In A Days Work

Due to the ongoing strikes, we haven't met for a Live Art seminar for a couple of weeks. So, in true Theatre Student style, we decided to put research into practice.

In A Days Work was a performance action, designed by Katherine Vinogradoff, and devised collaboratively by Katherine, Lauren Burnett, and myself, with participation by students and lecturers from the MA Theatre and Performance Studies course.



The durational work took place on 6th March, 2018, and lasted from 9am until 5pm at Bush House; one of the buildings that forms the Strand Campus for King's College London. The time period was chosen as it is the standard 'working day' in Western culture, and reflects one of the arguments the work refers to: that Academia is labour, and should be recognised, and rewarded, as such.

 

 

 

Each participant chose to read from a piece of work published by one of our lecturers. We consciously chose work that was published outside of a specifically academic frame, to point to the fact that we are the university for our lecturers, for their work, and their expertise. The buildings, the 'name' of the institute is not particularly relevant if the teaching staff are not world-class, and it is their contribution to the life of the university that should be highlighted, not taken for granted.

In a show of mutual solidarity, several of our lecturers chose to participate, and read from the work submitted by students. This beautiful gesture performs the conversation which takes place between students and lecturers, explicating the reciprocal engagement that happens during the learning process.


Alongside the durational reading, the performance utilised disruptive tactics, such as blowing whistles, and using party-poppers and confetti-cannons, to create noise, mess, and spectacle: each passing hour was heralded by setting off of the party-poppers as the readers changed.


Passers-by were generally quite supportive and interested: one member of the public was quite hostile, verbally, but he didn't hang around for long! Several people were kind enough to donate money as we were collecting towards the union fund which supports striking lecturers. Interestingly, the final total came to almost exactly the amount that would have been earned on a junior lecturers salary for a 9-5 job!

I found the piece challenging to perform, for several reasons: as I began reading, from 'Essays on Theatre and Change: Towards A Poetics Of' by Kelina Gotman, she appeared in my peripheral vision! Speaking to her afterwards she said (fortunately) that I had read beautifully even though I admitted I was supremely self-conscious at the time. During my hour reading, I noticed a small commotion taking place off to one side, but I didn't dare lift my eyes from the page in case I lost my place; afterwards, Katherine told me it had been a BBC London news team, and they were going to feature us on the program that evening! I'm so glad I had done my make-up that morning!

Apologies for the poor quality - and for the needy cat that makes his presence known!

During my hour reading I felt as though I was going to lose my voice several times, not helped by the blustery weather (although originally we had intended to stage this piece last Tuesday; we postponed it due to weather warnings, and I'm so glad we did as mid-afternoon the 'Beast From The East' swept across London!) It was hard work, keeping pace, diction, and projection for a whole hour, and points, again, to the 'laborious' nature of academic labour.

I'll reiterate: I support the lecturers strike - education should be a public good, not a private service. 

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