It must be told,
Group exhibition, Arnolfini, Bristol, UK, 2013 / Solo exhibition, Enclave, London, 2014
(Above: 'Black In Woman The', framed inket print, clock mechanism, engraved trafolyte plaque. All photos Kevin Sykes)
A PowerPoint presentation, performance lecture, and series of found and constructed props used to examine the mechanics of a perpetually popular West End ghost play, hosted at the Fortune Theatre, Covent Garden for over 25 years, using the plot device of the 'doomed to repeat' curse that forms the heart of the play's story.
Playing the part of an overly keen audience member the performance and installation revels in minute details of the theatrical production, from the layout of the venue to the repeated adverts in the local press.
Initially commissioned for '4 Days 2013: Curtain Call' at Arnolfini, Bristol, UK it then 'transfered' to Enclave Guest Projects, Deptford, London. In each version the 1hr improvised monologue is delivered three times in succession, entitled 'The First Night', 'The Matinee' and 'The End of the Run', adapting to the audience each time through experience and human error. At Arnolfini this was across one day, at Enclave the three performances happened over one weekend.
The whole work is based around 'The Woman in Black', directed by Stephen Mallatrat from the novel by Susan Hill, which has played at the Fortune Theatre since 1995, for over 10,000 performances. My talk replicates the mannered, self-referential, relentlessly repeating nature of the play itself, adding yet another layer to the play-within-a-play.
The talk is built around 64 hi-res scans of the near-identical adverts for the play
'The Woman in Black' at the Fortune Theatre, Covent Garden, that have appeared in the pages of Time Out London listings magazine, collected by me from 2005-2014.
It also includes excerpts from my one-off 2hr acting lesson at RADA; dramatic recitations of footnotes and stage directions; audio of my interview with the original 'Woman in Black' actress; unauthorised photography of the production; frank discussion about the negligable value of the entire project; a big finish where
I actually act; and a Q&A with each audience.
The exhibition, which doubled as the set for the talks, was a month-long installation in the Enclave Guest Projects gallery space, coming fully into play for the talks on the last weekend of the exhibition. This set incorporates adaptations of the props from the first version of "It Must Be Told." and also a new set of hand made and found objects that furthered my understanding of the project, including:+ Slideshow of all 64 scans of Time Out advert pages, fading transitions.
+ A framed, reversed, 5x enlargement of one advert, fitted with clock motor and plaque engraved with play quote.
+ Appropriated photographs from 'The Fans Of The Woman in Black' Facebook page.
+ An approximate scale model of The Fortune Theatre, based only on my knowledge as an audience member:(i.e. view of the theatre from the street, view from the stalls and circle, Ticket Master seating plans. Model then colour-coded based on my certainty: pink for areas unsure of, yellow for certain, purple for not a clue.)
+ A wooden replica of an imagined backstage piece of metal equipment.
+ Video trailer for the exhibition and talks, playing on a loop in the space.
+ 12x black and white enlargements of sections of advert scans.
+ 22 chairs and calculated seating layout.
+ A custom removable wall sticker of Hermit Crab graphic.
+ Nine (or ten) lemons scattered randomly across the floor. Refreshed weekly, chosen to look like archetypal lemons.
(Above: Blown up hi-res scans of Time Out theatre listings pages; 'Black In Woman The' framed kinetic poster;
seating markings and lemons on floor.)
(Above: Model of the Fortune Theatre with lamp and mirror. The model made in cardboard from my memories of the building as an audience member - from visiitng the theatre myself and the layout diagrams on ticketing websites. Then painted with coloured aerosols, yellow for areas I'm confident about, white for uncertain and purple for unknown areas.)
(Above: 'Making Of' table of ambiguous ephemera, including - sketches of gallery installation; paint test board for Theatre model; Two versions of the Woman in Black programme showing edits to the content over time; a lemon.)
Above: 'Hermit Crab' clip art symbol by Jeff Buchino, enlarged into movable wall vinyl sticker; lemon.
Above and below: "It must be told", 2013, Arnolfini, Bristol, UK
-PowerPoint presentation and Installation (projector, play text, wicker trunk, stool, chair, blanket, 'theatrical gauze', lamp, electric candles, fixings, data projector, notes)
(Above: '4Days: Curtain Call' Gallery 1 install, Arnolfini. l-r, Barry Sykes 'It must be told.'; Jesse Ash, Avoidance Avoidance - tables, projector, sculptures and lamps; Edwin Burdis, The Fruit Machine (A Painting and an Opera) - wall sized painting, speakers and strewn flowers . Photo: Justin Yockney)