exhibition archive

Rehearsing/Samuel Beckett

curatorial concept and design by Donald Smith

25.03.06 - 29.04.06

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Special Events


Shaun McDowell: Sucking Stones Drawing Lines

lines drawn 2006

Friday 24th March

During the Private view of Rehearsing/Samuel Beckett, artist Shaun McDowell created a new work in CHELSEA space. Surrounded by people socialising, drinking, looking at and discussing the exhibition, McDowell quietly created his work, oblivious to the ambience of the occasion, isolating himself in a repetitive process, obliquely referencing Beckett's novel, Molloy.


Shaun McDowell   Shaun McDowell



A Rehearsal of Pablo Bronstein's Plaza Minuet

(Performances: 7th-8th April as part of the Tate Triennial 2006)
organised for CHELSEA space by Adrian Shaw

Wednesday 5th April

While the CHELSEA space walls explored the idea of two series' of Beckett rehearsals at the Riverside Studios; Pablo Bronstein and his two dancers conducted their own rehearsal of Bronstein's baroque-influenced Plaza Minuet within the space itself.

The whole process of this rehearsal was made open to the public through the gallery's glass window wall, providing access to the organic development of the piece and the free movement of the practising dancers. From observing the group discussing and eating cake to spontaneous pirouettes and graceful contortions; all the motions of this usually enclosed and private method were exposed. There was no element of self-consciousness connected to this rehearsal mode either; as one of the dancers put it, "I'm used to being a goldfish."
(Text by Ronojoy Dam)


Plaza Minuet   Plaza Minuet



Words and Music
John Edwards, Bass
David Ryan, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet

Tuesday 11th April 5.15 pm

With Beckett as their backdrop, bassist John Edwards and clarinettist David Ryan gave an inspired performance of improvised music. John Edwards is one of the most sought after improvising musicians here and abroad. A musician of immense vitality and versatility he has anchored various ensembles, working with Evan Parker, Archie Shepp, Peter Brotzmann, Paul Dunmall, Eddie Prevost, Sonny Murray, and others too numerous to mention. David Ryan has been involved in both experimental and improvised music, and worked with John Edwards as a duo on many occasions. He has also worked on projects with Earle Brown, Christian Wolff and many others.


John Edwards



John Tilbury - Beckett as Music

Followed at 6.30pm

Following Edwards' and Ryan's improvisation, John Tilbury, renowned concert pianist and interpreter of Morton Feldman, Cornelius Cardew and John Cage, gave a superb talk on musicality in the texts of Samuel Beckett and showed excerpts from his own performance in Krapp's Last Tape.

Tilbury recently recorded Samuel Beckett's Cascando and Rough for Radio 1, contributing as both composer and speaker, a project which is being expanded to a realisation of Beckett's short prose piece Worstward Ho in a version for speaker and two percussionists in 2006/7.


John Tilbury



David Toop - Considering Embers

David Toop Flute and Laptop computer
Phil Durrant Laptop computer
Stefano Tedesco Vibraphone

Wednesday 19th-Thursday 20th April

Across a two day period, the renowned musician, writer and curator, David Toop, worked on a new improvised piece with Phil Durrant and Stefano Tedesco taking Samuel Beckett's Embers as their starting point.

On the first day the musicians concentrated solely on playing but on day two, after a shorter improvisation, Toop took time to talk about his music and the potential resonances of Beckett's work.

CHELSEA space, with its concrete floors and ceiling and glass curtain wall, proved to have a good acoustic for Toop's music, and he also found looking out across the open space of the Parade Ground towards Tate Britain provided further inspiration.


Considering Embers   Considering Embers



Gaby Agis and Florence Peake - Night Studio

Tuesday 25th April 2006 1.30 - 5.30pm

Gaby Agis and Florence Peake used CHELSEA space to rehearse performance/dance ideas around the theme of the artist's studio:

Readings of Night Studio - a memoir of Phillip Guston, lead towards notions of the studio, time, place, making, rehearsing, and the experience of process, sleeping bags, paint, newspaper, music, movement, inside the studio, inside CHELSEA space.


Night Studio   Night Studio



Adrian Shaw - Ping

Wednesday 26th April 1pm - 2pm

One lunchtime, artist and musician, Adrian Shaw came into CHELSEA space and started reading Beckett's Ping.

When he had finished reading, Shaw moved towards a photograph in the exhibition of Beckett wearing a gag. He then proceeded, in his distinctive Barnsley accent to address the photograph asking questions about the lack of punctuation in Ping and how the author felt it should be read.

When Adrian Shaw had finished this futile monologue, he proceeded to read Ping again, using everything he had learnt from his one-way conversation with Samuel Beckett.


Adrian Shaw    Adrian Shaw



Frank Sidebottom and the Dalek

Thursday 27th April. 3pm and Teatime (5pm)

Timperley's most famous son, comedian Frank Sidebottom, and a world domination seeking Dalek came to Chelsea space to perform an improvised endgame of two halves.

At 3pm Frank Sidebottom and the Dalek lectured to a mixed group of Chelsea students on the virtues of correspondence, poetry, plays, and fame, and Frank's imagined role in Beckett's success.

At 5pm (after an impromptu sing along of Frank's 'Monopoly Song' in a postgraduate diploma student's Teepee!) Frank and the Dalek decided to write and perform a play inspired by Samuel Beckett and Doctor Who on the themes of Waiting, Time Travel, and Outer Space and culminating in a duet of 'Imagine' and 'Anarchy in the UK' - "it's set in the future, right, and Chelsea space is called 'Space CHELSEA Space' and is all covered in errm..Bacofoil, and actually the view out of the window is all stars and stuff and what you can see there now is a hologram of errm..what it looked like in 2006!".

As with Samuel Beckett's rehearsals with the St Quentin drama workshop, Riverside Studios were the venue for many early recordings of Doctor Who and the Daleks.

Frank Sidebottom is performing across the road from CHELSEA space at Tate Britain's 'Late at Tate' evening on 2nd June, 7-8.30pm.


Frank Sidebottom    Frank Sidebottom



Acting, Eating, Reading, Drinking, Meeting

Friday 28th April

Actor Patrick O'Kane and director David Gothard discussed theatre with actress Nell Dunn.

Patrick O'Kane helps Eddie Farrell and Michael Wedgewood cut vegetables and prepare soup.

2pm onwards
A Soup Kitchen opened in CHELSEA space and free soup and wine was served by Eddie Farrell, Paul Carr, Patrick Loan, Michael Wedgewood, and CHELSEA space director, Donald Smith.

Everyone was welcome and visitors included students from Chelsea and the Slade, filmmaker Michael Shamberg, and artist Gustav Metzger, amongst others. Soup was taken to the sounds of French 78 rpm records on a wind-up gramophone. With reference to Beckett's years in Paris and the St Quentin Drama Workshop, the atmosphere was somewhere between a cheap Parisien caf and a prison canteen.

Eddie Farrell read a Short play by Daniel Kharms. As Eddie started reading, he took the first swig from a bottle of vodka, which he then passed round. Everyone present took a drink from the bottle and, as Eddie finished the poem, so the last drop from the Vodka bottle was drunk! The proposal to read Kharms came from artist Gary Woodley.

A 'Rehearsal Meeting' took place in CHELSEA space. This meeting was one in an ongoing series conducted by artists Eddie Farrell, Paul Carr, Patrick Loan, Michael Wedgewood, Julia Carver and others. Tables and chairs were laid out, overhead projectors and flipcharts were set up, paper hats were worn, and speculative discussions and impromptu lectures took place.


Eddie Farrell    Eddie Farrell