People Show

Feature in Issue 9-1 | Spring 1997

The People Show was founded in 1966 and was one of the first performance art companies in Britain. Their new show, People Show 103, incorporates live ‘crash-edited’ film and sound recordings and is currently playing at a venue near you. Ray Newe caught up with the company to find out more about the vital role that their audience plays in the creation of each unique show.

What is live ‘crash edited’ performance?

The term ‘crash-edit’ originates from the practice of editing video tape without an edit controller. The result of this is a tape comprising solely of cuts, instead of cross-fades, wipes etc. On tour, we intend to generate imagery on location; filming situations on the street, local population, architecture, etc. A similar approach will be taken with the sound/noise element, where recordings will be made of a noise jam at the venue with local musicians/noise makers. The majority of the audio-visual material will have to be remade at each venue. Due to the time-frame involved, crash editing techniques will have to be employed in order to lay down broad slabs of material. During the performance of the work, those audio-visuals will be mixed with live imagery and sound. We have designed the work to accommodate the free forming nature of live performance, allowing for plenty of room for spontaneity within the mix.

What about the music for the show, I believe an old single by Mike Figgis is to be recycled?

Over the past several weeks, a single released by the People Show in 1986, ‘I’m a Man’, was presented to a number of recording artists who were invited to make a re-mix. Their reactions to the initial hearing and their working process was documented. The consequent re-mixes have found their way into the sound-palette, ready to re-mix further into the performance. The recording artists we worked with include: Kingsuk Biswas (Bedouin Ascent and Sounds of the Asian Underground), Phil Winter (Summit), Ansuman Biswas (Acacia and Summit), Pondlife and Goose (Morg Studio, representing labels Galactic Disco and Hospital), Gary Asquith and Drostan Madden (Renegade Soundwave). The musicians on stage are David Gilchrist (live mixing, various electronica and guitars) and George Khan (reed instruments and synthesiser). The sound/noise material originates from the aforementioned remixes of the People Show single, the noise jam sessions with the local musicians and stuff generated by David and George.

In what way does People Show 103 celebrate ‘today’s culture’, as the press release suggests, and how does the live ‘crash-edited’ technique help?

103 will be unique in that it will be comprised mainly of younger generation artists, partially referencing People Show history while upholding the company’s long established non-autocratic ethos. The show will celebrate ‘today’s culture’ by exploring the diversity of the live medium (sampling, mixing, re-mixing, etc.) The process of 103 and its presentation will draw on these collective clashes, working towards an exciting new format accessible to a wider audience.

Why do you think the People Show has flourished for 30 years?

Strong, uncompromising, dedicated characters and a lot of luck. Ideology of individual members, rather than group ideology.

Some People Show alumni are featured in the show I believe. How did that come about and what will it bring to People Show 103?

The newer company expressed a desire to continue working with these long-standing People Show artists. However, the prospect of touring a show after 30 years of being on the road was not an attractive prospect to them, partially due to other commitments. Mark Long and Chahine Yavroyan have inputted during the devising process but are unavailable for the duration of the tour. George Khan is up to touring with us because he can utilise his two great loves in the show – cycling and jazz – with the proviso that he doesn’t have to lift anything too heavy (back injury, People Show 97). Founder company members, Mark Long, Chahine Yavroyan, Jeff Nuttall, Emil Wolk, Mike Figgis, have been invited to arrive at the venue during the performance as a guest appearance (one guest per venue). They will occupy the bar/restaurant area, eat a meal, have some drinks, while performing solo to the cameras. This event will be broadcast in the mix. Part of the People Show 103’s concept is to collide a number of stories/events drawn from the experience of the performer, members of the public and a number of classified sources. The guest appearance will constitute one of these stories/events, providing material to be included in the general mix.

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Issue 9-1
p. 11