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Tri Bywyd (three lives)
Site specific performance by Brith Gof at Esgair Fraith - in Welsh and English. October 1995.
Site: Esgair Fraith, Clywedog. An abandoned farm in a conifer plantation, west Wales.
Two new and temporary architectures, designed by Cliff McLucas and after Bernard Tschumi, were introduced at the farm: 16 meter steel scaffolding cubes, running through the ruin and among the trees. They were made up with floors and rudimentary features - stairs, furniture, lighting. These three ‘houses’ became the setting for three interpenetrating and episodic performances, each involving three sections of thirteen two minute parts, with physical work, commentary and spoken source materials (records, police statements, newspaper accounts), and amplified sound track. Five live performers, including two local actors who had known Esgair Fraith in the 30s and 40s. A dead sheep. Various artifacts including flares, book, buckets of milk, sheets and a pistol.
The audience of 300 were seated in an auditorium built of scaffolding running through the neighboring plantation. Buses bringing the audience were parked in a quarry over the ridge, where also were sited the generators.
One purpose was to address the question of how to engage with a contested locale in a way that did not reduce the encounter to simplified narrative or representation.
The three lives.
One. 1869: a cottage in the village of Llanfiangel ar Arth, Lletherneuadd Uchaf, near Pencader west Wales. Site of the death of Sarah Jacob, the Welsh Fasting Girl, who, it is said, survived without food or water for two years, one month and one week. She died when nurses from St Guy’s hospital London locked her door and watched the result.
Two. 1965: Esgair Fraith, Llanfair Clydogau, Lampeter. Rural poverty and suicide.
Three. 1988: 7 James Street, Butetown, Cardiff, site of the murder of Lynette White, a prostitute, and associated with the miscarriage of justice in the false conviction of the Cardiff Three.
See also my piece Three Rooms which took up some of the problematic raised by Tri Bywyd.
Funding and support from:
Gallery - [link]