Ensemble : A Poem about the beginnings of Performing Research

Ensemble : A Poem about the beginnings of Performing Research


In darkness, we gather at St Luke’s
on Claremont. Light shines
from mullioned windows.

Strangers, we search for a way inside
(outside our normal spheres.)

Known only by symbols:
we do not speak, yet we say so much.

We move alone
before we group and clump,
divide and separate.

Making mirrors of each other’s bodies.

We Stop,
We Go,
Jump Up,
Crouch Down.

Go back then forwards.
Or is it just the reverse?

We make eye contact,
then break away.

Only to look back over our shoulders
(before doing it again with someone new.)

Nothing here is proper:
we are no longer comforted by fact.

Instructed we form a circle.
Move closer, closer,closer
until our bodies touch.

Shoulder to shoulder,
arm in arm,
holding ourselves and then each other.
Palm to palm,
flesh pressed into flesh.

We move,
always some part of our body in contact
with another’s.

Out of curiosity,
and then in anger.
Through mud and water
we make connections.

Breathing, sweating, limbs entwining,
clamouring to the compass points.

Repelled and attracted in equal measure.

Neither death nor gravity can part us:

We Move Together
As One.

Words Copyright Eliot North 2014


I read this poem after the Performing Research show at Northern Stage on 27th March 2014. We then had a panel discussion about using performance and theatre to engage the public and explore our different cross-disciplinary research and teaching interests throughout Newcastle University.  It was a fabulous night and has been a hugely successful and enriching experience being part of the Performing Research ensemble guided by Cap-a-Pie.


The Russian Doctor: A new performance piece inspired by Chekhov’s experience in medicine.

Wellcome Trust – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBcQDWMpg9g.

Did you know that the second most performed playwright (after Shakespeare) was primarily a medical doctor? A new performance piece explores Anton Chekhov’s experiences observing and treating convicts on a remote Russian island. We spoke to the performer and neuroscientist behind ‘The Russian Doctor’ which previews next week (at Winchester Theatre Royal) 

Read more at the Wellcome Trust website: http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/News/Media-office/Press-releases/2013/Press-releases/WTP054900.htm. What an amazing collaboration between so many different interested parties.

I’m not sure I’ll make it along to this performance but I hope I do or that this play tours near Newcastle! Chekhov’s only non-fiction work ‘Sakhalin Island’ is now very much on my reading list.