The Third Chamber

June 16th, 2015
by Alison Andrews

Over the last two weeks (June 2015), Ludus Festival Leeds has been inviting people in the city to say what they think.  ‘The Third Chamber’ is a place where people can correspond with each other about their opinions, ideas, experiences and hopes – on any subject.  Across the city tables were set up with writing materials, refreshments and a comfortable seat – for you.

You could take the role of citizen, and write to the Third Chamber, an imaginary appendix to the House of Commons and House of Lords, leaving your address – or become a Member of the Third Chamber, and write a response to a citizen’s letter – which is sent through the post.  You could also take both roles.   No expertise on any subject was required here, just your personal reflection on what someone else has offered.

The Third Chamber is created by Gillie Kleiman and Hamish Macpherson, who both have a background in dance.  They are interested in relationships between performance and politics.

Ludus Festival Leeds invited them to bring ‘The Third Chamber’ to the city, as part of the Festival’s ongoing investigation into “Performance, Place, Possibility’ and to set it up in Beeston, at Cross Flats Park, in an empty unit in Bramley Shopping Centre, and on the main concourse at the Merrion Centre. While we were setting up the tables for the Third Chamber to take place in these different sites in Leeds, Hamish talked about the concept of the piece with the team of volunteers.   Thinking about the physical set up of the House of Commons for example, it’s easy to see that this supports the kind of antagonistic debating style we are familiar with from Prime Minister’s Questions.  The scenography of the set-up underpins the relationship between the political parties and between the proceedings and the public.

The Third Chamber particularly explores the relationship between politics and choreography, in the sense that the physical act of writing involves the body.  Making the marks with the writing materials keeps the idea connected to the body through the hand.  You have to move in order to commit your thoughts to paper.  When responding to a letter as a member of the Third Chamber, dressed in a gold cloak, you use a fountain pen, and write on beautiful paper.  The choice of the materials here is important – several participants remarked on how they enjoyed using the fountain pen.

The act of writing, and writing in response to a handwritten letter – created by an individual whose marks you see on the paper –  in contrast for example to firing off an email, slows things down.  Choosing the materials to write a letter to the Third Chamber , perhaps decorating the letter with stickers, or drawing rather than writing, reflects  the writer’s personality. Clearly, your handwriting is personal to you.

The Third Chamber came to Leeds as part of an investigation Ludus is making into what might emerge from the possibilities of performance and place. We will be continuing the discussion on 26 September 2015 between 12.00 and 16.00pm at Stage@Leeds…and if you missed the Third Chamber it will be popping up at this event so you can contribute your thoughts, opinions, ideas and inspiration!

If you are interested in joining us for the afternoon to discuss performance, place and possibility email Alison Andrews or sign up to our newsletter (top right) to register your interest and we will contact you directly once final details are confirmed.