Performance

TURN

Nic Green

We marked the interaction of turnings

TURN is a performance project created by Nic Green especially for the Govan Dry Docks in Glasgow, Scotland. Across three significant evenings in the September lunar calendar, a composition for bells and voice rang out from the Docks, as the low tide turned. Bringing together radio-broadcast speech, a bespoke choir and a series of hand-cast bells made in and with the people of Govan, TURN is a unique performance of people, place and acoustic instrumentation.

Story

The Govan Graving Docks are three oval-shaped, stepped, granite basins that have been in disuse for nearly 40 years. For some in the neighbouring housing it is a regular spot for trouble, while others seem to have a sense of pride associated with these enduring remnants of a thriving shipbuilding industry.

Over the years spent living in Glasgow, I have noticed how little or rarely the river and its banks are generally accessed or enjoyed. The Clyde is still strongly associated with a lost industry, mass unemployment and poverty, leading to identity crises, a mental health epidemic and widespread drug and alcohol abuse in former shipbuilding communities like Govan. Perhaps the river, a kind of ‘black spot’ of acute sensitivity, makes it difficult to re-imagine our relationship to the waterway, like a bruise that doesn’t fade.

The geography and sociology of our river city are undeniably tangled with notions of economics, work, class and symbolically with gender. The Docks are fraught with all those associations, brought into question even more potently with news of pending ‘development’ plans. I wonder how much the under-written narratives of past-place have a hold on future people-place identities, patterns and relationships.

Nic Green

The three TURN performances coincided with the new moon, the full moon and the last day of the lunar cycle, within one lunar month. All the performances intersected with the low, turning tide.  The artist wanted to begin with something bigger than the narratives of our human industrial past, instead considering the continuing ecological heritages of the river and its wild systems; their consistency found in constant movement and transitioning.  

The project drew a number of ‘circles’ in its creation, paying attention to the macro-cycles of moon and tide. Within this it drew geographical circles in and around Govan, presenting the stories of local life cycles and change, through the voices of women celebrating their birthdays. They described the turning of their own lives over the course of an hour. 

The women’s voices were broadcast live onsite over a local radio frequency, and listened to intimately by audiences through metal speaker boxes. Their speech was accompanied by a choral score, performed live and amplified from within the belly of the dock.

The choir also rang bronze bells created especially for the performance, each dedicated to a local organization or individual, with an inscription of their choice. Using architectural acoustics, the sounds of the performance were reflected and bounced, creating echoes and resonance across the granite landscape.

I consider the use of bells and the creation of them in the community as both a memory of a past sound world  (the hammering on the metal hulls of ships), and a gesture of movement, or an invitation for reimagining the potential of place and space. I came to think of the Dock as a kind of giant mouth, offering something abstract and ever changing in a transitioning, shifting landscape. What if we can enrich the associations made with this space? What if we can unfix what we think we know?  What if we can hear other, alternative narratives to the ones we are used to, bouncing off the architecture? How might that change our sense of place and possibility?

Nic Green

Bells in themselves have a cultural quality of transition.  For centuries, we have used them to mark changes or turning points. A birthday – indeed any marking of a cycle of time – is often used to reflect on the past, to move forward and change. The dock is a monument to past industry and urban identity, shifting into a changing and wild ecosystem. This project manifested as a performance system presenting qualities of transition and impermanence. There is no trace of the events left onsite now – only recordings, photographs and testimonials of its having happened. 

I imagine it like a thin gossamer dropped softly over the prevailing narrative of a place. A gentle nod towards the potential of an alternative narrative for the present and future of a place and its people, and the idea that even things set in stone might shift unexpectedly to become something other than what they have always been.

Nic Green

Traces

Check out a few drawings that guided the conception of the project

Here are a few production steps that preceded the performances

ID card

Nic Green

Nic Green

Nic Green is an award-winning performance maker based in Glasgow, Scotland. For thirteen years she has worked across performative disciplines, with projects commissioned both nationally and internationally. Her work is varied in style and method, with forms often ‘found’ through collaborative and relational practices with people, place and material, creating mainstage dance/theatre, intimate story-telling performances for woodland environments, large-scale live sonic compositions for outdoor spaces, site-specific audio works for one audience member at a time and physical/vocal works for studio theatres, to name a few.  Her work has received several awards, commissions and recognitions: ‘Best Production’ at the Dublin Fringe, 'A Herald Angel' for Trilogy, the Adrian Howells Award for Intimate Performance, Total Theatre Award for Best Physical/Visual Theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe for Cock and Bull. She is the first recipient of the Forced Entertainment Award, in memory of Huw Chadbourn. She is the 2018 Artist in Residence at National Theatre Scotland, and teaches directing at the University of Glasgow.

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Sustainable communities

Co-production and co-diffusion

Supported by Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Glasgow City Council, Berlin Senate Chancellery for Cultural Affairs, Arts Admin, Doors Open Days

Produced by Feral

Thanks

We worked closely with several organisations and individuals in Govan, without whom this project could not have happened. Thanks especially must be given to the Galgael Trust, which housed the development of our bronze foundry and the making of our bells. www.galgael.org

Thanks also to The Riverside Hall where our choir of ‘Ringer Singers’ rehearsed, the Pearce Institute, Govan Allsorts, Govan Housing Association, Govan C, Tara Beall, Govan Beacon, Glorious Govan, St Anthony’s Church, The Shed, Govan and Linthouse Parish, Kinning Park Parish Church, Fable Vision, Govan Fair and Govan Old.  

Thanks also goes to: Cove Park and the Jerwood Foundation, New City Visions, Callouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Glasgow Sculpture Studios, Berlin Senate Chancellery for Cultural Affairs, Ruth Olden, Buzzcut, Tam McGarvey, Norrie Anderson, Eden Jolly and Uist Corrigan at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop.

Much gratitude goes to our wonderful choir of ‘Ringer Singers’ who have collaborated on the singing of circles, and the three groups of birthday women who agreed to share their experiences as part of TURN. This performance is only made possible with their openness and participation.

Credits for the piece

Creation Nic Green

Production Feral (Jill Smith and Kathryn Boyle)

Sound Design Yas Clarke

Composition Naomi Pinnock

Production Manager Nick Millar

Spatial Design and Dramaturgy Minty Donald

Participant Coordinator Conner Milliken

Bell Maker Rosie Galloway

Print and Graphic Design After The News

Web Designer Neil Scott

Press Sharon McHendry

Front of House Management Charlotte Printer

Vidéo

Footage Progress Films

Photos

Event and portrait Julia Bauer

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