A Day in the Life

Relay Process—Ins and Outs!

(Relay No. 1) Four Landscapes

Each morning at 8am the Relay Team will begin their physical relay from one town to the next. They will split the roughly marathon distance between four runners, traveling relay style, one after another. Their support van will shuttle the non-runners to the next exchange points.

As each runner tackles their miles, they will “gather the landscape” making observations with their senses as well as with GPS body cameras mounted to their torsos. This landscape data will be used in mapping analyis by the Water Institute of the Gulf as well as in mapping exercises at the “Gathering Ground” community performances presented each day upon arrival in the next town.

(Relay No. 2) Six Voices

Each afternoon around 2pm the Relay Team will begin a relay of information. Through one-on-one exchanges with six local residents in the town where they have arrived, the six members of the Relay Team will “gather the voices” of that community. For three hours that afternoon, the local hosts will invite the team member to observe their everyday lives, witnessing how they are moved by the environment around them and the issues and concerns they face each day. The team member may find opportunities to participate in activities that are a part of their local host’s day, as well as enter into conversation about general and specific topics.

The intention behind using this shadowing method is to truly place the “voice” or story of the individual in the location they are in, and to get passed the programmed narratives we all tell to a place of familiarity and even friendship. By building relationships through art, Artistic Director Bradford believes you can create a greater opportunity to affect change and make an impact.

As each team member spends time with their local host, gathering their voice, the team member will use a practice of “whole body listening” to make observations as well as using audio recorders. This story data will also be used in mapping analyis by the Water Institute of the Gulf as well as in the “Gathering Ground” community performances presented that day and subsequent days along the River.

(Relay No. 3) Sixty Minutes / Gathering Ground

Each evening around 6pm the Relay Team will begin a relay of time, space, movement, and voice. A gathering event will take place in every community, slightly different from one town to the next as the communities are each so unique—in scale, of course, ranging in population from 200 to 600,0000, but also in culture—the urban centers of Memphis, TN and St. Louis, MO to the rural enclaves of Morganza, LA and Burlington, IA. And yet, in each town a diverse group of local citizens and the Relay Team will gather, brought together by the multiple contacts that Bradford has cultivated over this past year.

The intention of the gathering is threefold: to “relay” to the local citizens what has been learned from upriver, to “relay” to them what was witnessed that day in their own community, and to invite them to “relay” their own stories and insights on the connectedness between what came before and what is present in their own voices and landscape.

A House Unbuilt has devised a performative framework to acheive these goals which includes participation from those gathered from the community. It is adaptable to different venues and spaces as well as audience sizes. In some communities, the gathering event will deviate from this structure but retain the gathering and relaying ethos.