Collaboration, Music & Temporality

Collaboration, Music & Temporality

Last month, I was on a two week development residency with Claire Love Wilson, Rory Comerford and Alasdair Roberts at the University of West of Scotland culminating in a work-in-progress performance at the Gaiety Theatre in Ayr. We developed a staging for ‘Morag You’re A Long Time Deid’, a play written by Claire about the search for a common ancestor of three characters across three different generations of a Scottish/Canadian family who are connected by their Ballad singing tradition.

The project has been slowly cooking over the last four years when I first met Claire on a night out at the Art School in Glasgow. She literally fell into my arms on the dance floor. The evening before she went back to Canada, we spoke about loose ideas for a future collaboration over a pint and whisky at the Potstill pub in Glasgow. Little did we know that we would meet again at the same pub exactly four years later to discuss the script she had written. With the help of many dramaturgical sessions through Skype over the last year, we finalised the preparations for our first development period for the piece. We were eager to try out how we could carry the story dramaturgically through the music of traditional Scottish Ballads and loop-based live soundscaping. With acclaimed folk-musician Alasdair Roberts and our dear friend and experimental composer Rory Comerford, we had gathered an artistic dream team.

The process was not unlike many of our projects as a dispersed collective with The Doing Group. Many Skype meetings and discussions in online documents and shared folders leading to a short, very intense rehearsal period where all the prepared parts are tested out together. So was our shared interest in dramaturgy and the search for new theatrical forms that would be carried by the sonic worlds created. A central aspect of the work between actors/performers, musicians and myself as a director was to find a common language, to explain staging visions and nuances in acting to the performers who are primarily accomplished musicians using musical vocabulary (a practice I got used to in my work in opera).

I found it compelling to facilitate a meeting between music and theatre – two time-based art forms that combined to disturb linear temporality. The music and soundscapes were key in creating a felt ‘space of timelessness’ as it has been described by audience feedback at the work-in-progress sharing. The performance used the Ballads as gateways to transition smoothly between the three different time levels of the three generations and the soundscapes helped to place the scenes, even when it progressed into a mythical place of the valley of Elfland from one of the Ballads in which temporality was suspended enabling the three characters to encounter each other. The residency itself became like a time-warping portal in which we went out of time through dark Ballads and traversed colonial history, forest explorations and wood pigeon impersonations.

Besides a promising start of a new project with clear ambitions of where it wants to move after the work-in-progress sharing and new artistic friendships, I left the residency with a clarity about my interest in temporality in my own performance work. The interest in time runs like a red thread through my work from my first staging of a multilingual version of Samuel Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’ seven years ago, to an original performance ‘Flow: a dramatic haiku’ in which I tried to find a dramatic form inspired by Japanese haiku poetry to explore the last words of my grandmother: ‘Maybe time is really the most precious thing we get from life and to treat it preciously will always remain a life wisdom.’, as well as my choreographic and site-specific exploration of ruin(ed) temporality in TIME DUST which I hope to redevelop in the coming season on the suggestion of The Doing Group’s Irina – of course with her as dramaturge.

In ‘Morag, You’re A Long Time Deid’, it was Claire’s grandmother who inspired the piece and to start thinking about time through music. The residency was definitely a precious use of our time and resources, and its questions continue to resonate deeply as I constantly hear wood-pigeons and continue to dream of how it can be developed further in the future. Time will tell.

Embodied Yoga Principles Teacher Training

Hello Everyone,

I am now currently based in Basel, Switzerland. I have been working remotely with The Doing Group whilst also developing some key life skills: snowboarding. Yes, I have had the privilege to have spent the first few months of this year learning to fall down mountains gracefully and I have thoroughly enjoyed it.

Whilst engaging with a new challenge, I have also been studying German, Permaculture and other movement practices. With this is mind, I have just returned from a 4-day Embodied Yoga Principles Teacher Training in Brixton, London. It was an amazing weekend. To really understand the principles, we had to do these poses for ourselves and I must say, these poses are very effective. The training was challenging, troubling and very insightful.
So, what is Embodied Yoga Principles? Well in short, it is a set of principles that reveals patterns, behaviours, and habits through a series of poses and movements. The pose reveals how we are, and through this awareness, the pose gives us choice in how we want to be and what we may need more or less of within our everyday lives. EYP is about awareness, choice and integration.

I approached this weekend with some reservations. It was recommended to me, yet I didn’t fully know what it was. I practise Yoga, meditation and breathwork daily and I was unsure whether this course was for me. However, after the first day of critical observation, the practise gave me the opportunity for rigorous self-enquiry. The techniques are so simple, but so profound. This may sound like a lot of Yoga talk, but it really isn’t. This approach brings self-study, responsibility and choice into the foreground and has given me tools for informed transformation into my practises; not just Yoga, but everything I do.

The self-enquiry is one valuable element of EYP, the other is choice. The pose leads us to embody an archetype and asks us to notice how it feels, whether this feeling is familiar or not, whether it is strenuous or easy. Through this process, we notice our behavioural patterns, observe them and having done so, we are given the chance to change them.
I met some truly authentic, genuinely inspiring people on this course and it has opened a channel towards a sharing community where lessons and wisdom within the field are passed on. I cannot wait to share these with the rest of The Doing Group to add another element to our physical practices. I am now in the process of completing the teacher training.

If anyone here is interested in movement, Yoga, embodiment practices, mindfulness, dance or physical therapy, I really recommend checking the EYP website:

Warmth and Kindness,


So as you you may have heard, we have recently spent time together on a residency in Berlin. Peter kindly hosted (most of) us in his one-bedroom apartment and we worked, talked, walked, and laughed a lot. We were here working on a new project born out of our fascination with cityscapes, the multiplicities of a space and urban unlocking. With this in mind and Italo Calvino’s novel Invisible Cities open in the corner of the studio, I invite you to engage with a game we played around with in.

I describe to you a man. This man is a city. Can you guess which one?

Quietness arrived. It is 3 in the morning and silence is rare. He was a handsome man. A little older now with dark hair and dark skin. You could tell he had an amazing smile, if only he showed it to you. His hair, a little long was greying very subtly at his temples. This man is a city. He was a kind man. He is worn down by the years with eyes full of unfulfilled aspirations, but he is still determined. He is a simple man. He wears a white vest underneath all his clothing, a small belly protruding on top of a very slender body. He wears bifocals but rarely puts them over his eyes, he doesn’t need them he says, instead they hold his hair from falling over his face.

He constantly wears construction boots, with a heavy-duty rubber sole, yet he does not have a job. He is a smoker. He smokes in the morning, he smokes with his breakfast, he smokes while talking to his wife, he smokes while greeting his daughters, he smokes while advising his only son. He smokes when he is working, he smokes when he is resting, he smokes before and after he prays, and he smokes into the night. This man is a city.

This man is a collector. He collects everything. His garage is full, bursting and bleeding out into other areas of the house, but all these treasures of the modern world are gathering dust, none of it works, but he still has them. He was an engineer. He is constantly tinkering and playing with something, trying to pry it open to understand it. He thinks he can fix it, but rarely does.

He is a beautiful man. He has great intentions and a perfect laugh but is often chastised for his selfishness. He loves with all his heart in the only way he knows. This is often not enough. He is found in deep thought, contemplating how he got here. He has many regrets. But there is hope, he has a new idea, things are on the rise.

This man is a city. Can you guess which one?


A short while ago, the Doing Group decided to bridge the physical gap between us once more and see what could be made of our coming together that doesn’t always come together apart. After having enjoyed last year’s February Finland jaunt we decided that once again we should wish to be cold and uncomfortable outside, spurred on to seek creative refuge in some previously abandoned compound now used for education. We raced to Berlin, desperate to take advantage of one of our group’s new living arrangements, and to put the fun in functional living.

Coming from across the globe to sit in this room, we spend much of the time in silence. Sometimes we move, sometimes I feel like the movement is not necessary anymore. You sometimes say something and then we talk about it. Variations on this theme continue for some days. Occasionally we look at phones and sometimes we lie on the floor. Sometimes we stay longer. On one occasion someone was rather stand-offish that we hadn’t vacated the room ever so slightly sooner. I have no time for people like this but I imagine someone somewhere does. At this point in time, I have nothing to reveal about our process or what we talked about. That’s not to say I am hiding anything, I just feel it’s unnecessary to say anything but that there were a lot of thoughts produced.

In the evenings, we turn these thoughts over and over in our heads, twisted together like some philosophical pretzel, revolving like a gyro, never-ending or beginning until, abetted with cheap pints, it is suddenly picked clean. Is what is left worth holding on to, or was it the journey there that should be cherished, regardless of how much attention we paid it at the time? Thankfully, it doesn’t matter too much. For once, we are wonderfully pointless. No deadlines loom over us, fast-approaching an occasion to let you see what we have done. We have nothing to show you yet, nor do we actually feel obliged to ever have anything to show you. But I think we should like to at some point.

A Slight Bend of the Forearm

We recently decided, to use this part of our website together, to keep track of the many strands of work and life which orbit the group projects of ‘The Doing Group’. As such we will be posting under the heading of ‘collective’ bits and bobs which contribute to our ongoing dialogue as individuals. To start off, here is a slight repost of what I have been up to in the chilli North!

While in Helsinki, I have been taking part in a pilot Masters in Ecology and Performance. At the core of this masters has been a question ‘what is performance now?’ This question is one shared often in the experimentation of The Doing Group. Engaging with contemporary theory around environment and interconnection, this masters has placed me in lots of new environments including biological research stations, tissue laboratories and taxidermy workshops. My research then has been really engaged with what art might offer, in an age where our relationship to science feels urgent and fragile.

I started working with water dowsing as a means of traversing different modes of knowing. I wondered what it might do to my body and mind to familiarise myself with a method that I cannot fully understand, an exercise in trust. Now I am beginning to form the outward facing component of this research. The following photos are from some performance and installation experiments I have taken in recent months.

For the next weeks of my thesis research, I will be working with a derelict site, much like the one we use in Rain is Liquid Sunshine, and a black box theatre. I am interested in teasing out what happens when things appear and disappear in theatre space and in cities.

As always, I look forward to sharing this conversation with the rest of The Doing Group.

Christiana x

It started

It started early on a cold and foggy Thursday. The fifth of November 2015, the morning of Bonfire Night. We met on the Botanics’ footbridge crossing the Kelvin. Eerie music, the reading of a short text, biscuits, coffee and juice: the liminoid meets the familiar, comfort mixed with Unheimlichkeit. Already this first meeting, with a loose agenda, a small breakfast and a non-binding ritual was hard to place. The Doing Group, as the first manifest that morning postulated ‘rejects simple answers’.

It started as an alternative to a reading group. In the proximity of theatre and performance, people are well aware that there are more ways into a topic than books. Making sense is an inherently active process. Doing is a way of understanding. The Doing Group sets out to explore proactively.

It started, because we wanted to do something. ‘Every doing in turn creates new realities’. It is a meaning-making process not only through understanding, but through the creation of the world around us. The Doing Group shapes its surroundings as it tries to explain it.

It started as a performance research collective, employing a plethora of different strategies reaching from invisible theatre and urban exploration to staged performances. We’re 6 members, located between Glasgow and Helsinki. We’re interested in many things. Urbanism, ecology, supermodernity, new materialism, concrete, liveness, ruins, labour and other topics along the way. During our first few months, our practice was simply to meet up regularly. We had investigative sessions outside and reflective sessions in the studio. Exploration and development. We gave ourselves a rule to work by: no answers, just questions. We would try and set ourselves a question that hopefully turned out impossible to answer and only move on to a new question, once we had failed to answer the old one exhaustively and to all of our satisfaction. So far, we have successfully failed to answer anything, often just raising more and more questions along the way. This process has helped us to figure out what we find truly interesting, and also to some extent made us undo existing knowledge and approach things with genuine curiosity and a confident lack of expertise.

At some point during these first few months of exploration, we felt that we had discovered enough questions that we could try and present something performatively to other people. We did not try to make shows that answered things, but that perhaps recreated some of our approaches, experiences, failures and questions. ‘Rain Is Liquid Sunshine’ was scratched at Only Skin first, and developed from there into a full-length performance shown at the Southside Fringe and UNFIX ReBirth. It investigates urban ecological cycles, and with it cycles of labour, production, ruination and location. It poses the question what futures we can imagine, when the idea of progress is drained away.

Since then, we have developed one other full-length performance, with the help of the University of Glasgow’s Alasdair Cameron Scholarship. ‘Elsewheres’ is a simultaneous performance between Glasgow and Helsinki, engaging with ideas about choice, overabundance, commodification of time and desire. It was shown in Glasgow and Helsinki simultaneously on the 10th and the 11th of March.

During our first year as a collective, we organised a series of seminars, where we would invite a speaker to present on a topic of their choice and in return serve them dinner. The talk would then be discussed over shellfish. This series of events, obviously called ‘Lobster Lectures’, was a way for us to engage deeper with our department and understand the interests and research of our teachers beyond the limits of the classroom. This has since also come to shape our practice through a sense of creative permeability: We try to let skills, interests and ideas enter our process, no matter whether they are obviously related or not; no matter if they’re ours or from somewhere else.

The idea of permeability goes hand in hand with that of creative absence: While we’re all dedicated, we’re not always in the same space, and we’re not always equally available. But navigating these issues, we actually gained a lot of trust into each other and us as a group. For example, it’s just me (Josh) in front of my laptop right now. Yet I know that everyone will be happy for me to write and sign and send this text and it will be representative of the whole group. Our members are the party line. Through this, we have found out much about creative absence and using the gaps that appear when not everyone is always equally present. In fact, these gaps often inspire the greatest creative leaps.

Seeking failure, permeability and creative absence are processes that don’t dictate a specific method or product. They aren’t themselves a tool for devising as much as a way to hold the tools. I think, perhaps, that these approaches are to practice what weak theory is to discourse: they don’t claim completeness or priority. They don’t compete with other approaches as much as enrich them. Rather than to restrict yourself through adhering to a grand approach or all-encompassing practice, these instances of what I call weak practice will hopefully lend themselves to all kinds of situations, enhancing other methods. Whatever topic we would engage with, whatever strategy we’d employ, these weak practices helped us in our creative processes, our group dynamics and our understanding of ideas.

And hopefully, they carry across in our performances as well. Keith Bruce wrote about The Doing Group to ‘give them your active support,’ so take it from him and check out our projects in the future.