The Look of the Thing
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Hannah Bruce and Company - 'The Look of the Thing'. Image of Luke Ganz by Sarah Dixon. Clarence Mews, Hackney, 2011.

Luke Ganz [image: Sarah Dixon]


The Look of the Thing is a site-responsive promenade performance piece that we have had the pleasure of making in response to some amazing venues. Surface to Air’s wonderful new building for Langford Primary School in London, the derelict basement of Shoreditch Town Hall, Wilton’s - Europe’s only surviving Grand Music Hall, 40 Clarence Mews (a family home / dance studio designed by Architect Ed Frith and choreographer Caroline Salem) and and the hidden backstage areas of Northern Stage in Newcastle.

As we reflect on the experience of responding to great spaces we’ll be posting images and sounds on this page. All images on this page are by Sarah Dixon and the musical team for all the versions of the project are Victoria Bernath (viola), Jonathan Eato (composition, sound design, saxophone / piano / electronics), Tom Adams (guitar), and Simon Goulding (bass). The audio for The Look of the Thing is mixed for our TlotT App and so works best on headphones.

[last updated 30 April 2014]

40 Clarence Mews

The trailer we made for the Clarence Mews version in Hackney features Helen Longworth (voice) performing text by Matt Morrison. The image in the player is of 40 Clarence Mews.

The 'Threshold' set piece for piano and electronics (below) was developed for a dance solo by Sophie Arstall. The image in the player is of Sophie performing at Clarence Mews.

Wilton's Music Hall

All of our set pieces in The Look of the Thing are somehow transformed to respond to each venue that we work in, whilst retaining the specific character that makes them part of The Look of the Thing. 'Trapezium' is a text based piece and so the spoken content is rerecorded to respond to a particular context. For The Look of the Thing at Wilton's we took selections from old press cuttings mentioning the music hall, many of which are framed and are on display at the top of the main stairs (as in the player picture). Helen Longworth's performance was a tour de force.

'J.G.' is a little nod (OK, quite a big nod) to Jan Garbarek as his album In Praise of Dreams was a big influence on Hannah when The Look of the Thing was in development. This version supported a duet between Sam Lawrence and Sophie Arstall at Wilton's, although the image below is of Luke Ganz from the Clarence Mews performances.

Shoreditch Town Hall

We made a version of The Look of the Thing for the disused basement of Shoreditch Town Hall as part of the 2012 mini-festival co-curated by Create and The Barbican for the Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Awards. 'A.B.' is a small tribute to the great Tunisian oud player Anouar Brahem as his album Thimar with John Surman and Dave Holland was a big influence during the development of movement for The Look of the Thing. This doesn't sound much like Brahem's music, but it does feature a stunning introduction by Simon Goulding on bass.


If you are interested in commissioning a version of The Look of the Thing for your space, please contact Hannah.