The Coming Tide

The Coming Tide was performed on 20th March 2013 in the tidal riverbed in Deptford Creek, with permission and help from the Creekside Education Trust.

The performance was conceived, devised and performed by Ivor Houlker, Jeanelle Archer, Holly Elson, Poppy Jackson and Riham Isaacs.

Academic discussion of the performance:

In the process of devising this performance, I was particularly interested in the development of ritualised pseudo-mythologized form out of the unique oppositions, architecture and transient nature of Deptford Creek.

“What makes an action ritual is not the action itself, but the context and consequences of it.” – Glenn Robert Lym, A Psychology of Building

The ability to use the site at all was dictated by the tide, and the site is remade and renewed by the action of the water in between each low tide. We are also passing under the intersection of Deptford bridge in order to access the site and as such the temporal and spatial liminality of this exact spot lends its own very particular ritual dramaturgy to any intervention performed there.

The beginning and end of a performance extremely important in terms of the creation of a relationship and contract with an audience; functionally/ritually engaging in a change of mode of experience. The way in which they are received and prepared has its own ritual structure, even before the more overtly performative rituals they are then brought into. My own initial unextraordinary engagement with the audience and subsequent transformation in sight attempts to bridge the gap between the two worlds, allowing the audience into the space as potential participants rather than alienated observers. Their initiation with mud, a condensed version of my own transformation, further developed the transition into acceptance of a more stylised development of the ritual already engaged upon in the donning of waders.

“[Site-specific performances] are an interpenetration of the found and the fabricated.” – Nick Kaye, Site-specific Art

One of the site’s most striking aspects is the interdependence of natural and artificial elements; the coexistence of wildlife and waste. Not long ago there was a sharp decline in fish populations after shopping trolleys were removed from the creek, robbing them of their (un)natural habitat. I sought to celebrate and embody the opposition between the found objects in the creek, and stereotypical romanticised ideas of the natural (as opposed to the urban) in rituals of cleansing and purification.

I found particular resonance between rituals arising from the dramaturgy of the space and the (ritually originated) structuring and aesthetics of noh theatre. Laban’s coloured facade resembles the noh curtain on a grand scale, and as a frame enables a perspective that dwarfs the performer and opens up the performance to encompass its full geographical context,

“providing prospects unfamiliar or impossible to conspire with in a theatre.” – Mike Pearson, Site-specific Performance

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