Helen Robertson


[these roarers]

Bernice Donszelmann, Lucy Gunning, Helen Robertson

02.06.18 Whitstable Biennale


[these roarers]

When the sea is. Hence! What cares these roarers for the name of king?

[these roarers] is a durational participatory event that will draw together the participants’ bodily movement, the rhythm and fragility of speech with the rhythm and mutability of the coastal borderline of Whitstable.


In the boatswain’s words that open Shakespeare’s The Tempest ‘these roarers’ are the wind and waves of the storm and as such become a character. Nature’s speech is indifferent to the name of the king; its breath and rhythm forms a wordless, structureless roar.  In the storm scenes in Shakespeare (both in The Tempest and King Lear) nature’s tempests are coupled with a crisis of stability – of both king and kingdom; the hierarchical social order is out of joint and these crises are witnessed through acts of human speech which are in turn dissipated and absorbed by the elements.


Questions around power, agency and land are for us the beginnings of a process of thinking about place, creativity and what it is to be human-in-place. The shoreline can be understood as an architecture that suggests an equivocal physical and symbolic formation. There is a paradox in an island mentality insofar as the coastline is a modulating and uncertain border undergoing both daily ebbs and flows and longer term coastal shifts and erosions. As a natural architectural border flux is part of the shore’s essence.  Speaking and bodily action are both a means of temporary and unstable inhabitation and in the performed event, movement, text, voice and site will interact at the shoreline in a series of continual re-formations.


The rhythm of the sea, the sea as a consciousness, will be our audience as we read, speak and move to it, by it and with it. Shakespeare appropriated many texts and the Tempest equally has been appropriated (Woolf, Jarman, Greenaway to name a few). Cultural concerns both overlap across time and diverge. Our process reflexively grounds itself in the reading of multiple texts that were written across different historical periods using these as a springboard to think about what it is to live at this moment in history.


The work will be open to all who wish to join so that it becomes an open collective body. The performance will involve a simple repetitive choreography of bodily movement in tandem with the reading of a range of texts (to the sea). Participants will engage in groups of three moving and reading together. No rehearsal in advance is required.


June 2nd @ Long Beach, by The Street, Whitstable

Am: 11:00 – 13:00

Pm: 14:00 – 16:00

Texts provided