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Graeme Miller – Re-Play    
A Girl Skipping was made in 1990. Its final performance was in 1991 – having toured internationally and having left a strong legacy of influence on those who saw it and an equally strong legacy in the personal and artistic lives of those who came together to make it. This work was of its time and of its makers – site-specific in social geography and personal history. It was volatile, immediate and re-written nightly on the face of its 90 minutes duration. Of all stage works it would seem to be one far best left alone in the immediacy of its time. Yet there is something worth telling of the method and madness of this work if only to put it in the grasp of those driven to find an authentic voice now. Claire Macdonald's essay commissioned to accompany this work articulates with beauty and accuracy the compulsive relationship between works their time.

This audio and visual piece assembles words from separate audio recordings made in 2009/2010 with the core performers, Heather Ackroyd, Emma Bernard, David Coulter, Liz Kettle and Barnaby Stone. It omits the voices of others involved, including Stephen Rolfe, who built and intelligently lit the work and observed the process of its making intimately, Frank Bock and Jan Pearson who bravely deputised in later performances. Another missing voice is my own. Not unlike the original work I have had others speak for me by provocation, empathy and composition.

The film, shot on stop motion Super-8 at the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford in 1991 (with Frank Bock in David Coulter's role), has been slowed down 18 times to become a grainy staccato – a rhythmic visual track to accompany a pan-aural assembly of words that are clues to the process and ethos of the work. It has evolved to become a pattern of fragmented vocalisations – a choreography of words that belie serious concepts and perceptions. Perhaps just why and how A Girl Skipping was made can only be articulated in code. The ludic and allusive quality of the text makes this an extension of the original work as much as an analysis of it. A Girl Skipping was a play about play, but it was play. The word vicarious, for instance, unpacks to essay length in terms of relevance to this work, but is thrown in the air with other passing ideas.

Is its form also a response to the dangerous act of going back in time? Creating a surface of ideas that is supple prevents getting stuck in the past. The elapse of two decades of un-nostalgic challenging life in the speakers have created a strong and thick enough filter to only allow what can be found to be found. What is worth finding and relevant to the landscape now (and now-on) shares its vitrine with the random, just as certain frames of the film: luminous fossils of real events, have the ability to rekindle the essence of the work.

Graeme Miller, January 2012

  screen
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screen
         
    ResCen talk    
    ResCen launch event for the film Re-Play
from L–R: Emma Bernard, Heather Ackroyd, John Ashford, Liz Kettle, Graeme Miller, Barnaby Stone
   
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