Cuckoos in the Nest: Performing Place, Artists and Excess

Mackey, Sally and Cole, Sarah (2013) Cuckoos in the Nest: Performing Place, Artists and Excess. Applied Theatre Research, 1 (1). pp. 43-61. ISSN 2049-3010


Lead artist Sarah Cole invited Sally Mackey to research Nest (part of an arts residency in Basildon, United Kingdom, in 2007–08) as part of Mackey’s longer-term inquiry into how we ‘perform’ place. Could Nest practices provoke new insights into the role performance has in articulating or shifting our relationship with place? After explaining the context of the Nest project and articulating what might be meant by ‘a performance of place’, the article deconstructs two themes that emerged during Nest, which are offered as potentially important for future work of this kind. First, evidence suggests a significant response to place from even the most temporary of denizens, the visiting or ‘cuckoo’ artists, implying that even when performing there briefly, strong relationships with a place can develop. Second, an argument is made for ‘excess’ contributing to performing place – for example, arising from transgression, the non-quotidian and boundlessness – that can enhance participants’ affective response to, and memories of, place.


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