By Lisa Thornton
You are immersed in your own little world, listening, waiting.
While You Wait is an experience; a series of podcasts created by numerous artists in association with Fuel, Roundhouse and King’s Cultural Institute. With a mixture of performers, visual artists, writers and musicians elements of site-responsive and one-to-one theatre have been fused together.
Waiting… In a queue by visual artist and performer Victoria Melody in particular feels intimate and personal. Not only with the surreal individual listening station which was situated on the 7th and 8th May in the ARC Stockton Arts Centre. Where the feeling of waiting emerged as the rest of the world rushed by, but with the juxtaposition between fact and anecdote.
The grounded authentic stories and opinions are relatable for the listener, whilst the facts established from research conducted by Melody and Dr Alan Latham make you think about queuing in a completely different perspective. This contrast is especially illustrated through the warmth of Melody’s family holiday story, presenting her initial reasoning for her interest in anthropology and of course the queue. Evidently it was this that resulted in her research of British history and the creation of numerous artworks in an aim to discover why queuing has become a core element to British culture.
Some say it is due to the rationing era whilst others say it is because of the introduction of public transport in Britain, buses only had one door. But are we now in British society losing sight of this tradition? As a prominent aspect to Melody’s podcast she delves into her notion that gadgets and the internet are abolishing the dialogue once created by queuing. Especially in today’s society people are immersed in their own lives, out for themselves, in a rush to strive to where they want to be, they are solo. Until they reach a queue then they become part of a collective. But with music blasting from headphones, the ability to be in touch with friends or the office in seconds on a smart phone for example and just not needing to leave the house to do certain jobs due to the internet it is harder for this strong collective to be formed. How can the mutual catharsis, protection of space and a sense of equality happen without the traditional queue?
The irony is that if you listen to this podcast on a gadget when you happen to be queuing you are conforming to the eradication of the typically British queue.
Nevertheless I agree with what Melody is contemplating. Waiting…In a queue makes you aware of not only potential loss of dialogue but tradition. In a society where it seems to be survival of the fittest we should see that “life isn’t always fair but we know that a queue is.”