TOUR GUIDE

I know the lie of the land. I have wandered these streets alone. I have dined under strip lighting. I have stood on the shoreline. I have allowed my empty eyes to sweep across the sea, looking for the drowning and the drowned.

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The Scottish theatre company Suspect Culture used to run annual day conferences on topics looking at the connections between theatre and some other discipline under the umbrella title Strange Behaviour. Topics included psychology, mathematics, economics, theology and more. In 2005, they tackled geography at the Byre Theatre in St Andrews. Most delegates were bussed to St Andrews in coaches from Edinburgh and Glasgow and I was asked to provide a tour guide. The idea was to write a script which would be recorded by an actor and then played through the in-coach PA system on both coaches. Because they were travelling entirely different routes, the tour guide could not possible be accurate. The idea was create a kind of dérive, which was a kind of wandering journey devised by the Situationists; unlike the wandering of the nineteenth-century flâneur, which perhaps pretends to a kind of pure freedom, the dérive acknowledges the constraints of the world and thereby tries to overcome them. A famous kind of dérive involved using a map of London to navigate around Paris. 

Tour Guide was a dérive which imagined a slightly inebriated tour guide with a sadness in his past, a deep-set resentment against Fife County Council, and a few drinks in his system, talking as jovially through the sights that we may or may not be seeing. The piece lasted around 20 minutes and was timed to conclude just about the time we arrived in St Andrews.

You can read it here.