A night-time-street-side-magic-peek-show

by ROTOZAZA + ICARUS with Alex Archenoult, Gaëlle Bona & Silvia Mercuriali with voices by Richard Demarco [taxi driver narrator], "Lennie", and the people of Edinburgh.


There are very few photos of [TAKE IT, TAKE IT], mainly because it happened during the night with very little light. The above photo gives a few rough examples of how things worked. In a sense, this piece was very much a continuation of the last ROTOZAZA / ICARUS collaboration, the film MISS[1]TAKE, and turned out to be a kind of expanded, site-specific, live version of the techniques explored in that film.

The audience were led from the box office in a nearby venue, along Prince's Street, down into St Cuthbert's Churchyard and all the way through it. Having reached the bottom of the path [x] it was explained to them that they should walk up to where this photo was taken and face the road. The whole area was thoroughly in the dark as we had blacked out various streetlamps in the churchyard, meaning you could watch everything happening up on street level without being seen.

This viewpoint was directly underneath a SOUND-EQUIPPED UMBRELLA. Sam Britton and Ollie Bown from ICARUS sat behind gravestones, each with a laptop, watching Lothian Road. Using specially created programmes they were able to choose from hundreds of voice samples recorded in Edinburgh and project them via the sound umbrella 'onto' the people walking by. On the pavement there is a sign-box for the Churchyard with a light inside it [marked on the above pic]. This had the effect of briefly spotlighting anyone who would walk under it, and it was at this moment we would "hear their thoughts".

The effect of this was, in a way, to make ordinary members of the public seem "part of the show", like actors in a film. Conversely, OUR performers seemed as if they were normal citizens [including a policeman on patrol]... to begin with at least; slowly they came into focus, eg

- The policeman suddenly runs into the cemetery and leans against the tower.

- Silvia would hang around on the pavement quietly crying, holding a balloon - EVERY night someone would come and put their arm round her; and it usually turned out hard to get rid of them! As they were calming her down, Alex would cycle in from right to left, stop next to Silvia, whisper something in her ear, and cycle off again.

- Another moment involved Gaëlle hanging and swinging nonchalently on the bars, looking down into the cemetery - her every movement picked up on with sounds to create an impromptu, Foley-esqe symphony.

Lothian Road is extremely busy and we were able to study some of the patterns; for example, taxis would come from right to left [traffic flow] and stop regularly at traffic lights situated behind the tower [top left in photo]. We knew roughly the timings for all this so our "narrator" was a taxi driver talking to a passenger; he'd be explaining all sorts of things about the churchyard, the festival, the dead, the saints... We'd catch fragments of this as the taxis queued up at the lights every 2 minutes or so.

The majority of what happened was, of course, beyond our control and expectations. Particularly on Friday night. Never to be forgotten the spectacle of fifteen men facing straight at us, urinating in chorus from the street down into the cemetery... The beauty of the show - and what made it so exhausting to do - was the level of risk involved.

[TAKE IT, TAKE IT] was the result of a month-long residency in Edinburgh before the festival started. We also did various street actions using some of the characters and strategies in the show- drunk riot police, beautiful girls in desperate situations...

click here for STREET ACTIONS

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