Hold the space

Last night I took my turn to perform the compere role at the Listening Room. It was particularly noisy due to the happy celebration of a wedding. Whenever I have this role, the aspect I find most uncomfortable is the beginning of the evening, where you have to attempt to clear the back room of those who are there for a chat with their friends, in order for unamplified singers and guitarists to be heard. This requires resources of tact and assertiveness which others posses in greater quantities. Once this is done, I enjoy the role, as I did last night.  Guitar Craft places a unique focus on preparing the performance area; during the end-of-course performance it’s routine for audience to carry out some form of sabotage such as removing a chair, placing an obstacle in the way or playing with lights during a piece. All to emphasise that the space itself is part of the performance. By coincidence Robert Fripp’s latest blog entry mentions it specifically:

  1. define the space;
  2. organise the space;
  3. protect the space;
  4. hold the space.

After a hesitant start, it was a good evening. Graeme Mearns had been carrying out extensive quality control of the Blue Blazer’s beers for the preceding few hours, but still managed a blistering performance. Sam Barber, Yogi, Bill Phillips and Ewan and Pavel all showed up to do their bit. A female audience member at the far end spent some of the time eating the face of her male companion, but when he went to buy drinks or whatever, sent me smiles that would melt the heart of John Knox. Or so it seemed to me. At the end of the the evening another audient told Bill and me that she’d come with friends, tired and uninspired after struggling all day with some creative work, and now felt great. Our work is done.

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