From the very beginning of this process the group had a strong idea about what sort of Site Specific performance we wanted to create, I believe this helped us in the process as we was driven in which way we wanted to take the process. The piece we create (The People Tree) was intended to be a community based project whereby we invited people from the community of Chichester to trade their memories for homemade cake in order to create a memory tree (based on Keri Smiths Wish Tree) this would be a piece of art which could resemble the community and bring a sense of community spirit back into the city.
Unfortunately the Chichester council could not allow us to perform our final piece where we had planned to (Market Cross, Chichester) as we was not allowed to obstruct the pathways in the centre of town, I feel this was a failure for the piece as it changed the dynamics slightly of the final performance as we had to move to the University of Chichester Campus instead. Although moving the piece was unfortunate it did bring some positives as well, it allowed us as a group to focus on a smaller community therefore being able to gain a wider perspective as there are less people to account for, meaning we would be able to reach a bigger percentage of that community. Furthermore the site we had chosen within the campus also offered us a tree already embedded into that space which would allow our aim of reconnecting with nature be a lot more prominent rather than the original idea of bringing a tree into a space.
The final performance of The people Tree has aspects of Site Generic, Site Responsive and Site Specific theatre. The performance was Site Specific as the performance was created through the history of Chichester as a market town as well as the atmosphere it presents “the real power of site specific work is that it somehow activates, or engages with, the narratives of the site in some kind of way” (Mclucas in Morgan, 1995, pg. 47). As we can see from this quote the narratives of the site is key for site specific work which is why we tapped into the historic nature of Chichester and brought that into the performance through the trading aspect of the performance. In addition to this, due to Chichester being a University town there is a divided between local members of the community and those of the University so by creating a performance to encompass all members of the community of Chichester. Both of these aspects, the trading past of Chichester and the inhabitants within it worked as stimulus and purpose for our final piece therefore the piece could not be moved to another location because of this.
Additionally the final piece had elements of a Site Responsive performance this is due to the vastness of the stimulus Chichester presented to us. Although we have used specific areas that are connected to Chichester the piece is a response to these elements. This is because the piece found the divisions within the community and tried to create a piece that brought them together but this stimulus can be found in other places or sites not only Chichester, which means that the piece could be moved and adapted for another city or site that is suffering from these divisions between local residents and university students.
In conclusion to the final performance being site specific, site responsive and site generic, the performance could be considered site generic or considered to have site generic elements because if we strip away the process which lead us to our performance we are left with gathering memories from people in a particular site. This task as a bare minimum could be considered as site generic as it could be taken anywhere to any site as memories are created from all places no matter the context of the site. Although stating in which ways The People Tree could be Site Responsive or Site Generic I believe that our performance was Site Specific, through the process every decision made toward the final piece was due to Chichester’s history, present and atmosphere, although the performance could be views in other ways the process of the piece and its delivery both contributed to create a Site Specific performance.
The response we got from the participants involved were all very positive, we exceed the level of participation we first assumed we would gain. We all together collected over 150 memories through the trade of our home made cakes plus around another 30 to 40 memories from people who just wanted to participate with the making of the people tree. A number of comments were made at the final stage of our performance when the tree was complete that it was “striking to look at, you can see it as your walking toward the tree, I think you should keep it up and allow people to add to it at will” (participant), another participant described the work as “a beautiful way to share our experiences” (participant).
If I was to move forward with this piece I would run it as a longer piece, although the piece was durational for the day I feel that it being for a longer period of time would allow us to involve more participants covering more of the community of the University, from there I would again attempt to take the piece to its original destination of the Market Cross within Chichester as then I would have collected memories from both sides of the division within Chichester and been able to collaborate them both, achieving the purpose of the piece to bring together the community of Chichester.