Dining in Prison: Sensory framing and performative perception in Rideout’s Past Time

Geary, Paul (2022) Dining in Prison: Sensory framing and performative perception in Rideout’s Past Time. Performance Research, 26 (3). pp. 66-73. ISSN 1352-8165

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Abstract

This article examines the processes of sensory perception in Past Time (2018), Rideout’s project with prisoners at HMP Hewell (Tardebigge, Worcestershire, UK) that explored both the histories and contemporary experience of food and eating in prison. The article explores how we make sense of perceptual experience (in terms of reflection, meaning and significance), as well as how the sensory encounter itself is guided and framed. The article argues that, experientially, perception is always already framed in advance and that sensory perceptions are not neutral, apolitical information-gathering. The article focuses on a performance for an invited audience in the prison, which was a result of the research and development process conducted by the prisoners and the company. During the performance, the audience were served and ate portions of gruel, soup and bread made from historical recipes (notably manuals on cooking from the Prison Commission). The prison operated as a loaded site for guiding and framing the experience of eating. By exploring the intersection of taste, smell, touch, sight, sound and reflection as part of a performative model of perception, the article considers how language and thought operate as a key part of perceptual experience, while also examining the politics of the site of the prison as a framing device for perception.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Past Time was conducted in HMP Hewell, a men’s prison in Tardebigge (Worcestershire, UK) as a collaboration between Rideout and the University of Warwick. It was part of the Wellcome Trust-funded project ‘Prisoners, Medical Care and Entitlement to Health in England and Ireland, 1850–2000’, with additional funding from Arts Council England, HMP Hewell and the University of Warwick. Rideout (Creative Arts for Rehabilitation) was formed in 1999, initially focusing on creative practice with prisoners and staff in UK prisons, though from 2014 their work was extended to include projects outside of a prison context. Working with a range of historical and archival materials, in Past Time a group of prisoners examined histories of prison food and its effects on physical and mental health, working through historical research and theatre workshops and by experimenting with historical recipes, notably from the 1902 Prison Commission Manual of Cooking. The process culminated in two performances for an invited audience in the chapel of the prison. The performance I attended, which is the focus of this article, consisted of moments of performance from the prisoners (including songs, staging court proceedings from archival records and autobiographical narratives and reflections from the current prisoners) and samples of food, served to the audience.
Uncontrolled Keywords: visual arts and performing arts ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1200/1213
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2022 11:30
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2022 09:30
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/82961
DOI: 10.1080/13528165.2021.1977505

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