A Garden Party At Her Lady’s Pleasure
Before the performance, which took place at The Wig in Birmingham on Friday, 23rd August 2013 we kept the information that we shared about the piece to an absolute minimum.
We wanted those who attended to experience the evening with no preconceptions and we are gratified that so many people trusted and took the journey with us on the evening.
We may be performing the piece again in future so if you’d like to stay mostly in the dark we would suggest you skip to the archive of the original site for the show, which contains no spoilers. However, if you'd like to know and see more, continue on below…
Good, you're still here. It might be best to let the story of the evening unfold in the same way that it did for the audience but if, instead, you’d like a look behind the curtain please follow this link.
A month before the performance was due to take place we announced the show via social media. The event was to be free to attend but a physical invitation would be required to enter. We hand set and printed the invitations at the London Centre for Book Arts and posted photographs alongside the announcements to give an indication of the aesthetic and some of the elements involved in the event:
You are cordially invited to a garden party
At Her Lady’s Pleasure
An exclusive event for respectable ladies and gentlemen of fine upbringing and moral negotiability.
Partake in the finest delicacies from around the globe for the mirth and stimulation of Her Lady; cavort and participate in the Hysterical Concerto constructed by the court’s alchemists and physicians.
Please arrive at 7pm on Friday, 23rd August, where our disciplined butlers will escort you to our cornucopia of earthly pleasures.
Dress for a decadent evening exploring the boundaries of human sensation.
When they arrived at The Wig our guests were greeted by Her Lady’s masked and cowled butlers, given their own masks to wear for the evening and shown up the stairs to the performance space.
With the audience sucessfully transported and separated from their everyday lives the evening’s events were now ready to unfold…
Over the following two hours our guests were served tea, sandwiches and cake while Her Ladyship looked on from her swing behind a curtain. The three courses corresponded to three musical movements and throughout there was an ever-changing projected landscape across three screens separating the guests from the performers.
It quickly became apparent to the audience that they weren’t merely passive observers but could take an active role in the evening’s entertainment. The table from which their refreshments were served was discretely covered in an array of sensors that could change elements of the music depending on pressure, light or proximity. However, it wasn’t until the end of the performance that some of our guests realised quite what the effect of their actions had been …
Video by Timothy James Pratt
At the close of the performance we gave the following text to our guests and sent them out into the night (you can also download a copy of the original as a PDF).
Thank you for attending this evening At Her Lady’s Pleasure. We hope you have enjoyed the performance.
Many of the details of this evening have been kept secret before the performance to keep elements of the night a surprise, so you could experience everything as it happened.
Now, however, we would like to divulge more information about the event you have participated in.
Way, way back, Kate Spence decided she would like to make music from an orgasm, to create the most beautiful symphony from the most beautiful feeling. To make something that transcended any possible remnant of shame that could be attached to this experience of sexual pleasure. To make something that would be using the body’s state of arousal to create something so beautiful that it could become a shared experience. She wanted the audience to be complicit in her arousal, to create those feelings, and for those feelings to be translated into magnificent imagery and sound, allowing something internal and elusive to become externally manifested in a shared art experience of epic resplendence.
In order to make a piece of live art that would be able to do this, it needed to be incredible.
In April 2013 both Kate Spence and temp0rary performed at an epic live art event in Bristol called Tempting Failure; Kate slow dancing in a prison cell with members of the audience in an intimate piece about love, longing, heartbreak and failed chances, and temp0rary performing a large-scale interactive audiovisual performance exploring extreme physical states through music in collaboration with performance artist Traumata. Boom, right there and then Kate knew that these were the men for this heroic task.
Better yet, on proposing her idea to temp0rary they didn’t laugh her off as a mad woman but completely and utterly understood the concept and driving force from day one. This has been a true collaboration from creation to completion.
Meetings in London, Cheltenham and Birmingham followed, culminating in a journey where each of us has pushed past our creative and personal limits in an attempt to bring you an evening that celebrates wholeheartedly and without shame all pleasures as equal – equally important, equally vital to life, to be experienced no matter who you are, what your parents told you, what Freud said, or what you have been told is acceptable or unacceptable.
Tonight there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure.
For some people, this is easy, and that is to be celebrated, but for others there are times – sometimes lifetimes – that can be spent in shame of the self and a feeling that one is undeserving of certain pleasures for whatever reason. For those in this position life can be a constant state of self discipline, the body’s natural desires repressed by constant chastising chatter in the mind, any moment of weakness punished by thoughts and actions of self castigation for daring to have the audacity to disobey the mind’s demands for the body to ‘behave’ – let alone, daring to enjoy it.
Whatever created this is perhaps unimportant. It is one’s self that keeps itself trapped and only one’s self that has the power to unlock it too. This knowledge is the key to empowerment and liberation.
Tonight you have been interacting with the sound and the visuals through shared rituals of drinking tea and eating cake. These actions have been translated into light, sound and vibration which have been relayed to Kate through a specially created audiovisual environment designed and built by temp0rary. In turn, Kate’s physical and mental states have been monitored to create discreet bio-feedback loops that have affected the performance. This has resulted in a fantastic feedback loop of shared enjoyment – quite literally, At Her Lady’s Pleasure.
We cannot guarantee that you enjoyed this experience but we sincerely hope you did. We cannot guarantee that Kate enjoyed this experience but we hope she did too.
Tonight we attempted to manifest an audience/artist interactive orgasm through the power of tea and cake. Whether or not this was achieved we can’t think of a more beautiful way to try.
Life is too short and too long to spend waiting. No regrets.
Many people have helped with the creation of this event in numerous ways. We would like to thank…
Sara Dobson, Vicky Roden, Aleks Wojtulewicz, Marcus Lanyon and Charlie McNeill.
The Wig & Sonya Russell Saunders;
The Rep Theatre for prop hire;
Susan Holder for costumes;
Charlie McNeill for technical support and logistics;
Siobhan Abbey for catering;
Daniel Salisbury, Ana Benlloch, Ian Messenger, Andrew Fentham and the London Centre for Book Arts.