Mapping as Prompt and Documentation

Although I am not entirely sure about the practical application of this yet, cartography has become an inherent part of my research, both as a means of documenting the material generated in the Performance Research Tests, and as a prompt to help create said material. I am increasingly convinced that you can’t separate culture from geography (which means I am currently on Team Nature as far as the old debate is concerned), so it makes sense that I should use maps and mapping as tools in a theatrical project involving  languages, cultures, and borders.

I was a bit stuck about how to integrate these notions into the design of my performance research lab, however, but it turns out that the National Library of Scotland has perfect timing with its events and today I visited the You Are Here exhibition, just after attending a workshop called ‘Mapping in Words’, led by poet Marjorie Lofti Gill.

This visit and workshop have provided me with very useful ideas and helped me find some much needed motivation again. Inspired by the beautiful Chimney Map and by the question “how is a spherical world made flat?”, I (who am not a writer) wrote the following bits of text as a response to the workshop, which I intend to further explore with actors in the PRTs when I get to do them:

The first bit that is missing is a reason. Discovery is exciting.

She would love to have a dress made of a map, in which she could mark the places she’s been and the places she wants to go to. In fact, she would have an entire wardrobe made of creased, rescued maps printed in silk, linen, canvas. Wearable geography, embodied cartography. Maybe tops would be made of her places, the ones close to her heart. Bottoms and even shoes would be the places where her legs would still take her. With time, borders would fade and boundaries would be torn. Meridians would shift and fold and she would get lost again.

Like removing the peel of an orange,

tell me where you want to go and I will help you find your way there.


The Chimney Map – photo credit: National Library of Scotland website


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