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Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Staging The Wreckage

Chris Thorpe and I have a new article in the journal Performance Research: Staging The Wreckage. It’s a lovely volume, and includes contributions from friends and colleagues including Rhiannon Jones, Michael Pinchbeck and Bridget Escolme. Edited by Gianna Bouchard and Patrick Duggan, the volume explores ways of, and reasons for, staging different forms of wreckage.


As soon as I saw the call for contributions, I knew I wanted to submit something about Parts For Machines That Do Things, our 2008 show about air-crash investigation.

Chris and I had an email conversation about the fragmentary making process of the show, and then I assembled the six pages as a collage of model plane parts, our email conversation and extracts of Chris’ text for the show. The final version is published as “A Piece Of Metal: Parts Of Third Angel’s Parts Of Machines That Do Things”. I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out. 

You can download a pdf of the article (for free for the first 50 people) here.

In making the pages we generated more material than we had space for, of course. Here are a couple of extra images that I liked that we didn’t use, along with a brief extract from mine and Chris’ email correspondence.


ALEX: I remember that we just talked a lot to start with. We made a long list of things that the show was about.

CHRIS: I remember I used to be terrified of flying. And then I read a book about air-crash investigation. And it cured me. I remember the terror switched to awe at the complexity of the planes and the global systems that operated them.


CHRIS: We knew the thing we were re/constructing was a show, but there was no original version of it (that had smashed into the ground, or landed on water, or suddenly and violently depressurised) to work towards. And we could always make new wreckage to fill any holes that appeared. 

ALEX: After a week in our studio in Sheffield, we did a couple of work-in-progress showings with BAC, in Edinburgh and London. Each time we presented a different selection and order, picking a different route through our constructed debris. 


Big thanks to Gianna and Patrick for commissioning the piece.

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