Get Up and Tie Your Fingers Eyemouth: Listening for dialogic resonance within a co-produced community performance

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This article addresses concepts and theories of listening and the impact these can have on community theatre-making. The article draws on Jean-Luc Nancy’s analysis of listening as resonance (écouter) rather than listening to hear meaning (entendre), and considers his concept of renvoi (a return, send back, repeat). Get Up and Tie Your Fingers Eyemouth was a participatory performance work that the authors of this article ‐ theatre director Fiona MacPherson and dance artist Liz Pavey ‐ together with musician Eleanor Logan, realized with multigenerational cast in Eyemouth, Scotland. We analyse how listening techniques became the primary model of rehearsal activity and approach to performing which Fiona developed with the narrators in this production. An emphasis on listening supported the development of new methods of ensemble storytelling fostering a collective creative agency in how participants worked with the script and explored the musicality of the dialogue. These innovative methodologies question conventional and hierarchical delineation of artistic roles in performance making and storytelling challenging traditional notions of ownership in theatre practice. Our analysis considers listening as an embodied and emplacement activity particularly within the context of a coastal location. We argue that an attention to listening can foster aesthetic and somatic sensibility and awareness of interrelationship of self and environment. The article concludes with initial analysis of how we have been furthering our exploration of the application of listening practices to performance making within our subsequent collaboration with the Eyemouth community, Eyemouth: People and The Sea.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-45
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Arts & Communities
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022

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