Murray Edwards College, Cambridge (UK)
Performative walk. Nightjar and Cambridge University Festival of Ideas October 2009 & 2011
Murray Edwards/New Hall Phases 1 & 2 was built in 1964 by architects: Chamberlain, Powell and Bonn to house the 3rd women’s college of Cambridge University, founded 1954. A weeklong period of research followed by 3 performative walks focused on people working at the edges of the college. urban (col)laboratory talked to Porters, Gardeners, Administrative staff, Caterers, Chefs, Librarians and Maintenance staff to review the college as a stage for everyday performances, rituals and routines from the perspective of those whose functions are academically marginally located, yet whose daily repetition is central to the functioning of the college.
The walks for groups of 20 - 30 took place during evening routines and focused on the position of the audience who became participants and performers through locations they were invited to take up in relation to the physical spaces. Staff were invited to take part in the walk, including the Arts Collection Curator who welcomed people and held master keys to all doors en route, the Night Porter who recited college rules, the Librarian who gave instructions on how to use the library, and the Head Gardener who introduced garden routines by torchlight, while the audience sipped hot tea made with garden herbs.