Pliancy Required
exhibition at the Jacqueline du Pré Auditorium, Oxford, 2017

At the beginning of Benjamin Britten’s first parable for church performance, Curlew River, the protagonists put on their costumes in front of the audience as part of a robing ceremony that repeats in reverse at the end of the work, blurring notions of onstage and offstage, and mixing theatre with ritual. First performed in 1964, Curlew River was written for four singers and chamber orchestra, in response to the Japanese Noh play Sumidagawa; it tells a story of several wandering and dislocated characters. The extracts of Britten’s music that accompany the Curlew robing ceremonies are used in Pliancy Required as prompts and coordinators for the stylised unrobing of 5 fabric objects, each bearing varied relation to narrative elements of Curlew River. Visitors were invited to view the performance from the stage or from an elevated gallery area.

Curlew Robe (remnant of performance Pliancy Required), 2017
Ink, canvas, polyester, acrylic. 380 x 320 cm