Speakers Corner 2016
a performance with Phoebe Ladenburg

'In 1872, an act of parliament set aside Speakers Corner of Hyde Park for public speaking. Even today, on a Sunday morning, it's not unusual to find crowds gathering at Speakers' Corner to listen to enthusiasts expounding their views. Anyone can turn up unannounced to speak on any subject, as long as the police consider their speeches lawful.' - www.royalparks.org.uk

A woman approaches different strangers around Speakers Corner, inviting them to listen to her story. She recounts a dark incident in her life to a small gathered audience - hoping to find absolution with the strangers.

 

 
 

Field notes
with Dr Ruth Cheung Judge, ethnographic researcher, UCL 

On the way to Speaker's corner -
exhaust fumes -
old hippies protesting Guantanamo
Alice edging, hedging - What is going on?
Dreadish anticipation.
Spot Phoebe. Red dress,
twiddling ring finger, looking pensive,
asking people something.
'I'm going to say something' - I catch it,
worry I'm interfering with the performance.
'It's just something...’
Feel like a bad stalker.
People's faces surprised, but more open
than I would expect.
Table clearly puzzled, talking about her.
Red against green looks lovely -
hesitant, hand gestures,
nervous hands folding over each other -
pointing -
fingers spread, imploring.
People look,
nodding and smiling.
People look like they know they're being watched.
Nodding at the mad woman,
smiling and shy.
Asks mostly women. Subconscious or
conscious? 
So much communicated through hands.
Only 1 group watching,
others studiously ignore.
A vulnerability -
‘Excuse me’, ‘Excuse me’.
One group wanders over,
a puzzled and shy girl talks.
Step back.
Brown hair, plumpish -
awkward teenagers.
Wave.
Denmark and Spain.
Bit nervous - show or genuine?
'Is it the first time you're going to do this'
'Brave.'
- ‘3 mins to spare?’ – ‘No, sorry’.
Everyone's listening -
vulnerability -
eyebrows knit -
someone comes up -
a woman holding
rubbish. Empty salad box and tropicana bottle
suspended in stillness as she listens. 
A mutual feeling of tension.
Perplexed.
Spanish girl nodding along, warmth -
'Further into the wood'
puzzled listening face
People wondering if she's sane. 
Crazy posh woman?
'Hit by a train'
Blonde woman sympathetic - Northern
'I've got to go back to work now.'
'Well, well done if you've wanted to say it for a while.'
Crying and hugs.
Women - 3 pairs - young Euro teens - 2 asians - 2 older - 1 bystander w empty frappucchino cup
Walking away, the post event intensity -
The sharing of a private
vulnerability in the most
public of spaces  -
a pocket of female concern.
Worry about them seeing.
silence,
mystery,
wondering what -
'OMG they were all so lovely'
'so supportive'.
People reacting with admiration at bravery - not an actor -
now worried they'll find out.
so empathetic -
the pause -
no applause.