Monday, 1 August 2011

as part of the PBH FREE FRINGE (
we are performing our most recent ventriloquent exploration into
Kurt Schwitters' 'Ursonate' with


in the Princes Mall (space L8 and venue 203) in Edinburgh
on SATURDAY 6th and SUNDAY 7th of August @ 4.45pm
tickets: £o.oo

Dummy Company are at present:
Sarah Blisset
Ollie Evans
& Harriet Piper

featuring puppets, voices, and the elegaic use of tape and vinyl players.

it would be a pleasure to see you there.

Nimrod plays a tune on the face-organ

Friday, 18 February 2011

Dummy Company @ 3K Cabaret

We performed a new rendering of the Ursonata at the 3K Cabaret in Manor House on 22nd January 2011. Presented on a packed lunch.

Welcome new dummies: Sarah Blissett and Harriet Piper.

We're working on a new show that we may well perform in May in South Bermondsey and very most likely at the Little Angel Theatre in September.
Here are the YouTube links, because it takes years to upload onto the blog:

Ursonata Presented on a Packed Lunch Part I. (1:Theme & Variation; 2: Largo)
Ursonata Presented on a Packed Lunch Part II. (3: Scherzo; 4: Presto)


Tuesday, 2 November 2010


Once was
an egg
that cupped
between palms
hinged over
sink, cracked
apart was
and taken
to be
a piece of
shell or
yolk juice
no fool
but he
could muster.

Once irrevoked
never that
shell cracked
lost in sink
but only
dead yolk
his skins
rains beat
or sands
eyes sewn
back to

Seg? No.

Yes, they
the Thing
or mistrue
to verify

the mouth
sense is
or mute


or only
they O
their pout
or slit cheeks
with cry
sound dead

in mother’s


sense slips

it all

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Recent Acquisitions: Glossia (Colourhouse Theatre-Aug 2010)


Here are some some photographic records of the last Dummy Company show, Glossia, which we performed last August.
A strangely satisfying and challenging evening for all concerned, including the local patrons which consisted of an unanticipated audience of a family with their children.
The duration of the event might have lagged too much, primarily because we resorted to 'short' intervals to change the set up for each mini-show. But the benefit of this arrangement led to an informal occasion punctuated by the shadows of an expected formality. Despite the theatricality of its setting, complete with a velvet red curtain, it felt like we had invited people into our front room, as if we had just moved into the area and were keen to have any of our new neighbours over for a look at our workshop. Apart from the inevitable attendence of friends and associates, we had a welcome selection of strangers who were willing to give us their time to see and hear these strangers perform in their local theatre. Unfortunately we were never privy to what they actually thought or felt, but we know there was laughter from a child and a late middle-aged woman.

In hindsight, it must have been quite an overwhelming night full of guttural noisescapes, and performance pieces on hydrocephalic infants and female ejaculation. If you spend a lot of time thinking and working on these things it's easy to forget that the large majority of the rest of the world hasn't really given them much thought. But perhaps we opened a few minds...

Carina Levitan in Glossia

Thanks to Shaun May for providing last minute tech support and putting the night on the internet, which you can get as a free podcast here.

And thanks to Carina's friend whose name I have regrettably forgotten, for taking these photos during the get in.

Myself performing 'Stoma Tong'

Kirstin Smith preparing for 'Stunt:Ejaculate'

Saturday, 24 July 2010

GLOSSIA at the ColourHouse Theatre

with Stunt:ejaculate and Stoma/Tong
7.30pm August 3rd•
Colour House Theatre


Merton Abbey Mills
SW19 2RD
Box Office: 0208 544 1222

GLOSSIA is an evening of new sonic and verbal performances.

Kirstin Smith promises to teach and delight with her modernist inflected and erudite lecture on Female ejaculation whilst Ollie Evans will speak, chant, belch and sing his new electric opera, Stoma Tong. All of this will be bracketed by Glossia, an ‘Articulated Babel Construction’ made in collaboration with Brazilian sound artist, Carina Levitan.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

KAOSSONATA: Ursonate in Brixton (6.5.10)

Last Sunday I performed the Ursonate for the first time with live electronic manipulation (e.g. my Kaoss pads).
At the risk of 'translating' it into a cheap digitalisation, I think it opened it up even further to the possibilities of its performance as a piece of 'Merz' - where forms miscegenate and coagulate.
Rather than a straight 'accompaniment' it became more of an accomodating conflict between the input of my voice and the output of the kaoss pads. Maybe...

LISTEN: Kaossonata @ Arch 468

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Residency in Cambridge Pt.2: Finnegans Wakes

Finnegans Wake: Ventriloquent Agitations

The speedboat steered towards disaster seciton of the residency.

The attempt was deceptively simple enough: try to get Finnegans Wake through new throats whilst miscegenating objects in the same splace.

On Thursday 4th, I led a 'workshop with close friends (who else would want to attend one of these things at the end of term?). The last thing we did involved everyone (but me) reading from and playing with Finnegans wake. I inserted labels into a copy of the book with words like "fall" "homunculus" "stomach" "ventriloquise" and "miscegenate" written on them. Being a 'ventriloquent agitation' (FW, 56), rather than a 'performance' or 'improvisation', material was literally 'agitated', as in the way the OED describes agitation as 'the mental tossing of a matter to and fro'. I wanted something that has existed for so much time inside my skull, to be tossed about in a room with other people.

It was an indulgence to say the least.

But on that day, my (mostly) sceptical colleagues played along with the whim and produced some interesting doings. Despite the apparent formlessness of everything that was happening, things were remarkably tied together (aside from Kirstin's proclivity towards the spool of string) by the voices that spluttered, delivered and refused the text. This is a text that rarely instructs you how to read, yet due to its delusions of mythology, it can often determine a particular, grandilquent and ultimately pathetic tone. But when someone like Jeremy Hardingham flicks through the pages, beginning with a cod Irish accent flattening into something which quite simply takes the piss, the joke of the matter really seeps out.

This book shouldn't be read with reckless abandon, but it should
be abandoned, it will always be abandoned because it can never be finished. A performance of it will always be an abandonment in some way. There was a point when Jeremy began reading, probably one of the most famous passages in the book, the tale of the Mookse and the Gripes, at which point he violently spat at it and flicked to another page. Afterwards he told me that he starting making some of it up whilst Kirstin tied him to the lecturn with string.

Is it frustration? tedium? disgust? does the text agitate its reader as well as itself? I thought that this could be, out of all this impossibility, an entry point into a performance of Finnegans Wake. A series of abandonments, agitations and revulsions. As well as the love that is always there whenever someone generously offers to read it.

However, I should have left it at that and let these thoughts sink in. A week later I attempted to recreate the agitation in the Miscellaneous Theatre (?) Festival, but this time with strangers from the audience.

I outlined (what I thought was) a simple structure that would lead into a crescendo and then descend back to a single reading voice. It was a large audience and they'd already been there for 3hours (and there was at least another 3 to follow), and people did not hesitate to participate.

The long and short lesson to be learned: the gift of freedom can be an ugly prison.
I was entirely open to 'anything' happening, so politically I do
n't regret the 'performance'. But there was a part of me that lost faith in humanity as I saw people sawing my objects in half and mindlessly dropping flour everywhere. I am, of course, entirely to blame for encouraging such directionless squalor and my vagueness in my introduction, "You will be given a label with a word which you can regard or disregard as you please", didn't help to dictate any kind of ethical expectations. But ultimately I was disappointed in the general lack of respect that took place. It's one thing to tie some one up with string, but it's another to confront another persons objects (whether physical or mental) with deliberate violence. Apart from the examples above, I can't really pin point specific actions but it was more the violent absence of communication that was quite disturbing.

Alot of this does depend on circumstance, the mood of the room , the selection of volunteers, what had come before and what was to follow; and perha
ps I did waste alot of people's time. But despite the failure, it was a valuable, ugly experience which was necessary for figuring out what I want to do with Finnegans Wake in the future.

Finnegans Wake: A Solo Droma

The quieter, solitary route into 'performing' with the Wake.

Following a sketch for a 'Ten Minute Tone Performance' that I had made a few weeks before, I gathered some materials (A flower, some eggs, water, two puppets (Which I had made as Albany and Cornwall from Unfolding King Lear), and a large hardback book, the Complete Lewis Carroll), and then I recorded an audio piece to accompany some tabletop object manipulation.

Whilst listening to the audio and going through the actions Jonny came into the studio and watched. Afterwards he told me that it was far more engaging watching me perform to myself, with headphones, than if he could hear the audio that I had composed. I agreed (half because I thought the audio I had made was pretty mediocre), and it became part of the performance.

Essentially, the little performance attempts to depict the skeleton of the Wake through symbolic objects (e.g. The egg for HCE, water for ALP, the flower for Isabel and the puppets for Shem and Shaun). But the outcome was not to effectively describe or represent Finnegans Wake to an audience but to present a creator
doing Finnegans Wake, exploring the many ways of treating and ultimately cracking an egg. My favorite moment involved using a cracked egg as a mouth which plucked petals from a geranium and eventually devoured itself as the pressure of the bites gradually crushed the shell.

It's hard for me to really assess the piece as its so introverted. In a way, it doesn't really feel like a performance, or more precisely, it doesn't feel like I'm really 'showing' anything, but simply 'doing' something in front of an audience. In a way, the absolute extreme opposite to the Ventriloquent Agitation in which the audience are asked to participate.

But did I forget about the audience entirely? How can a performer actually 'forget' an audience?
I think there's a value in the act of giving something to the audience, even if it is just a series of solitary actions. An audience doesn't have to be physically dragged into an action in order to feel part of it.

But ultimately, with a text like the Wake, which will always seem to be a 'members only' kind of experience, how far can an audience be included in work made around it?

That's the next (series of) question(s) for the project.
How should we consider an audience if we are ultimately abondoning a text in front of them? How privy to this experience can they be? And how far can they 'understand by enjoying', as Gertrude Stein would put it, whilst retaining the inevitable sense of bafflement and frustration that the text inevitably produces on everybody in the room?