Friday, 24 March 2017

"Here are some phrases..."


This is me trying to transcribe an audience's reactions to a show I performed nine years ago, a promenade version of Jonah Non Grata at the Shunt Lounge: Is that someone saying "This is an asshole of a night" 40 minutes, 40 seconds in? I can't be sure. I might leave that bit out. It's tricky. What sounds like "Good question" on one cheap set of headphones turns out to be "Is it Russian?" on another, and if anyone can tell me what I'm saying 22 minutes and 28 seconds into this, please let me know, or I'll just have to go with "I've discovered a new version of ham" which it definitely isn't.

But it's a surprisingly creative procrastination exercise. Initially I just wanted to subtitle the video using youtube's CC function because so much of it was inaudible (and because it beat writing something new), but the subtitles seem to be taking on a nice life of their own now, and something new seems to be making itself. Of course it might just seem like that because subtitles immediately make something look more like a documentary, or it might seem like that simply because I've spent nearly a week staring at the thing, but so much of the show concerned the reading or repeating of text - phrases in a foreign accent, instructions, hymns, Ian Livingstone's "City of Thieves" - that it seems apt to see this text finally take centre stage. Subtitling also means that any audience murmur I can make out also becomes part of the text now. An unpleasantly fraught audience relationship has become an engaging dramatic narrative. You could never do this in the live show. This is the book. It's almost like a comic. Finally. And the fact that so many of the words are inaudible might actually be helping that transition. Words and pictures.

I still haven't made a decision about Edinburgh though, obviously. This transcription is what I'm doing instead. I'll let you know when I've finished, but in the meantime here's the test piece I did a few weeks ago. I say "test piece" but I don't know who or what I was testing, maybe just people's capacity for attention.