Category Archives: Performances

‘And I remember a feeling of tightness on the skin…’

James Wilkes, And I remember a feeling of tightness on the skin…, 2016. Performed by Emma Bennett, Ella Finer and James Wilkes. Image Charlotte SowerbyImage: Charlotte Sowerby

A work for three voices, based on transcripts of interviews about three people’s experiences of a poetry reading. The transcripts have been organised into a score that explores the ways in which speech elaborates moments of experience, bringing them into being through the work of the voice and through a kind of digestion, of chewing over, which is shared, public and provisional.

Commissioned for the Voicings live performance series at the exhibition ‘This is a Voice’, Wellcome Collection, 7-12 June 2016.

Thanks to Emma Bennett and Ella Finer for their collaboration in developing the work for performance. Thanks also to Russell Hurlburt, whose Descriptive Experience Sampling technique provided the framework for gathering the descriptions and who conducted the sampling and the interviews.

‘A New Valve’

Aarhus, Denmark, 2 December 2015

This hour-long performance for Where Were We – On Intimacy, Writing, Body explored aspects of inner voice in an interaction with an ‘experimental system’ of live projected images, recordings and readings. The performance circled around ongoing research interests including ideas of translation, limestone imaginaries, Renaissance chansons and the archives of the Peckham Experiment, an interwar health centre based in South London.


Photo credit: Barbara Katzin

Ora 21: Rest

A live discussion with Daniela Cascella and Salomé Voegelin on the topic of rest – considering rest as interval, rest as social code and habit, rest as pause in reading and writing, and rest as critical device. Broadcast 28 May 2015 on Resonance 104.4fm.

Audio here

Read-Receipt: A Performance for Receipt Printers and People

Read-Receipt Documentation from James Wilkes on Vimeo.

A performance at Static Gallery, Liverpool, 21.01.15, as part of Torque2: The Act of Reading

3 ethernet-connected receipt printers were set up in the performance space. Over the course of the performance, they were remotely triggered to print receipts, with a new text printed each time one was taken.


The texts to be printed were assembled from over 2500 years of receipts, invoices and tallies, framed to allow reading, performance and conversation. The receipt is freed from its functional straitjacket, and turned into a marker for the reciprocal relationships between reader and writer, speaker and listener. It becomes a modern equivalent of the ‘tally stick’, notched and split to make tangible the indebtedness of one to another.

receipt cropped for web

Thanks to Sam Skinner and Nathan Jones.

Litmus Launch


Reading for the launch for Issue 2 of Litmus alongside Amy Cutler, Verity Spott, Peter Hughes, Lucy Sheerman, David Caddy, Markie Burnhope and Nancy Gaffield.

Weds 26th Nov 2014
Mascara Bar
72 Stamford Hill, N16 6XS.
7.30pm, £3.

Introducing Mopha

Update: second performance, UEA Drama Studio, Norwich, 21 October 2014, 7.30pm. Additional performers: Rebecca Tamas, Lawrence Bradby.

Mopha group

Our first performance: Rich Mix, Bethnal Green. 7.30pm, Sun 28 September 2014.

We’re really honoured that Marian Hazlitt has written an introduction to the first performance by Mopha collective:


I’m sitting in on a Mopha rehearsal. We’re in Patrick Coyle’s studio, and Emma Bennett is throwing a watermelon to other members of the collective, who are catching it with varying degrees of skill. She explains that she’s interested in ‘effort noises’, a phrase she learnt from absent Mopha member, Holly Pester. Efforts noises are the non-verbal sounds that radio actors make when they want to suggest invisible actions. A classic of the genre, apparently, is Shula climbing onto a horse in the Archers.

James Wilkes is also into radio sound effects. ‘It’s about the disjunction between eye and ear’, he says to me later. ‘Radio producers are often aiming for a concrete, realist sound world, but the ways of doing that are totally absurd. Like making the sound of a fire by popping bubblewrap.’ His piece for the Rich Mix show, ‘Live Realist Spacewalk’, combines meticulously transcribed dialogue from a spacewalk on the International Space Station with the tropes of sci-fi films and patently inadequate sound effects.

For Tamarin Norwood, the Mopha project is a chance to explore ideas, already developed through her practice in video and sculpture, around drawing, blindness, touch and instruction. With their inevitable errors of transcription, the works that she’s made develop a slowly emerging collective theme: the utopian idea of describing something perfectly, and the stubborn failure of words to be equal to the world itself.

Patrick’s contribution to the night, ‘Horse d’oeuvre’, not only picks up on Emma’s reference to Shula’s horse, but further undercuts any attempt to formulate a logical science of style. His work begins with a phrase taken from the 19th-century philosopher Herbert Spencer, concerning the correct ordering of a banal description of a horse; before long though, this fragment of language mutates, through chance algorithms, into something much stranger.

The last time I saw SJ Fowler on stage, he was in character as a sinister compere summoning the voices of the dead. This foray into theatre has clearly taken root, as he delivers a claustrophobic, repetitive miniature play for three characters and a director. Despite its overtones, this seems to be as much about what happens when you ask non-actors to act as it is homage to an absurdist tradition.

A few weeks later, I catch up with Mopha again. Appropriately perhaps, the watermelon has disappeared from the performance: Emma’s piece has evolved, and she’s now working on something derived from Basil Fawlty’s pathological relationship to the objects around him in Fawlty Towers. But the watermelon is there somewhere in the background, one more absent object amongst the many that this collaboration conjures.

Marian Hazlitt

Asylum Chapel – Sounding the Walls


Site-specific work for multiple speakers at Asylum, Peckham, 3rd July 2014. Performing alongside Patrick Coyle, Jenny Moore, Julia Calver, Gen Doy; curated by Edward Ball.

The speakers played fragments from my reading of Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent, which features a South London almshouse which may or may not be the same Licenced Victuallers’ Benevolent Institution to which the chapel was attached. They also played fragments of sounds created by running my hands over the walls, chairs, doors, plaques and masonry fragments in the space.

Poetry and Science – Archive of the Now

Discussion and performances by Dorothy Lehane, Eleanor Perry, Prof. Ellen Solomon and me, hosted by Sophie Mayer of Archive of the Now, on the topic of poetry and science.

A live radio show for the Science Museum’s Exponential Horn installation, broadcast by Resonance 104.4fm on 13th June 2014.

There’s a recording of this knocking around somewhere, and I’ll embed it if I can find it…