Hesitate and Demonstrate

Company name: Hesitate and Demonstrate

Founders: Geraldine Pilgrim and Janet Goddard

Established: July 4th, 1975

Reason: ‘We were part of generation that were taught by the luminaries of the first generation of performance artists and were educated to believe in the principle of creating work that could not be sold in galleries, that was live, of the moment and ephemeral.’ (Geraldine Pilgrim 2013)

Current Status: Ceased Trading April 1st, 1986

Area of Work: Performance Art

Policy: Hesitate and Demonstrate’s work explored the aesthetic of a highly visual style of performance where the central protagonists were always female. Pilgrim in 1986, said that their imagery was a celebration of ‘Englishness, gentility and rituals’ (Pilgrim, interviewed by Natasha Morgan, 1986). Pilgrim and Goddard drew from their backgrounds and personal memories to develop their shows. The performance narratives were also initially inspired by authors, films, poets and painters with which they identified. Hesitate and Demonstrate also explored the different phases of women’s emotional lives: from the curiosity of adolescence, to young women searching for love and finally lost love, betrayal and loneliness.

Structure: From 1975 to 1979 Geraldine Pilgrim and Janet Goddard were co-Artistic Directors with John Darling as lighting and sound designer and also for one show, as performer. Sally Cranfield joined as a performer and co-devisor in 1977 until 1979. In 1979 Janet Goddard left the company and Geraldine Pilgrim became the sole Artistic Director and a core group of Hesitate and Demonstrate family members was created that enabled performers to be available for different shows. Hesitate and Demonstrate received rolling Project Grants from the Arts Council which covered company costs only when producing shows, so a minimum of three new shows a year had to be produced if a year’s costs were to be covered.

Based: 1975–79, Artists’ home addresses; 1979-1984, Artsadmin, Unit 4, 34 Clerkenwell Close, London EC1; 1984 -1986, St James Institute Pollards Row E2. Geraldine Pilgrim recalls how most of the first shows of Hesitate and Demonstrate were developed in cafes, in particular Patisserie Valerie in Old Compton Street, Soho, London. The company would then physically create the piece and rehearse on site, usually for one or two weeks before the opening of a show. Artsadmin administrated the company from 1979. In 1984 Hesitate and Demonstrate moved with their own administrator, into St James Institute with the People Show (although the venue was rarely used as a rehearsal space).

Funding: Initial Projects Grants from Yorkshire Arts to cover props and travel for street and gallery performances when the company was based in Yorkshire. In London, Hesitate and Demonstrate was initially funded by the Arts Council with one-off Project Grants for each new show. When the company became a Limited Company and a Charity, the funding moved up to a rolling Project Grant which enabled two or three new shows a year to be funded all at once, to cover salaries, costs of creating and the UK touring of these shows over a year.

Performance Venues: Initially public spaces and art galleries and then studio theatres as part of the UK touring circuit and main house venues on the international Touring and Festival Circuit. Hesitate and Demonstrate toured the UK and Europe extensively. In London their home venue was at first the Oval House, Kennington and then the ICA in the Mall. The UK touring venues included, York Arts, Leadmill Sheffield, the Old Bull Arts Centre, Goldsmiths College, Jackson’s Lane, Midland Group Nottingham, Bath Natural Theatre, Warwick Arts Centre, Birmingham Arts Lab, Bradford Theatre in the Mill, Chapter Arts Centre, and the University Theatres of Newcastle, Exeter and Essex. They also performed on Brighton Pier and the Acme Studios. In Europe, The Mickery Theatre Amsterdam and the Netherlands touring circuit which included, De Lantaren Rotterdam, and theatres in Utrecht, Leiden, Maastricht, Harlem, the Hague and Gronigen, the Kai Theatre in Brussels, Polverigi Festival in Italy and ITC in Bologna and the Italian touring circuit which included Rome, Naples, Milan, Turin, Genoa, Modena, Jesi and international festivals in Denmark, Poland, Germany and Spain. In June 1983 they performed Goodnight Ladies at the Public Theatre New York, as part of the ‘Britain salutes New York’ festival.

Audience: Wide and varied depending on venue (see above)

Company work and process: Hesitate and Demonstrate was formed in 1975 by Geraldine Pilgrim and Janet Goddard, fellow students in the Fine Art Department, Leeds Polytechnic. Initially they developed a street theatre performance style that at first not only used everyday objects placed in unusual situations – such as taking items of furniture on a walk, or flower arranging in the middle of a roundabout- but were also inspired by the photographer Eadward Muybridge, emphasising the amount of single movements that went into creating a flow of movement in everyday occurrences such as the picking up of a tea cup or the sitting down in a chair. ‘[The] Muybridge equivalent in Hesitate and Demonstrate … is achieved by having the performer hesitate, as if about to move … then moving as if demonstrating the movement. … The impression created is like movement in a dream’ (Shank 1983:5). The fine art background of Pilgrim and Goddard played a key role in the development of Hesitate and Demonstrate performances, the result being a style that favoured images over text as a portrayal of narrative. The use of spoken words was sparse and often taken from their favourite books and films. The first three theatre based performances (Points of Departure, Ha-Ha and Horrid Things) included improvisational conversations created over tea shop meetings that were then written down as scripted text, however, by the time Scars (1979) was produced, language had almost disappeared and that show included only a single spoken line.

They became known as one of the first non-verbal theatre companies or Visual Theatre. However, the show script used both drawings and words to minutely describe the images that were to be performed. This, they discovered later, had created the script similar to a film story board. Hesitate and Demonstrate narrative departed from its literary tradition, its outcome was a dense network of atmospheric images, or, as described by Pilgrim in 2005: ‘…paintings coming to life’ (Pilgrim in Heddon and Milling, 2005:81). Adrian Henri in 1979 identified the echoes of Magritte and Delvaux in Hesitate and Demonstrate’s images. Shank in 1983, remarked on the influence of the Surrealist painters and suggested that Hesitate and Demonstrate had ‘adapted specific images from the paintings, at other times they have used similar subject matter, and most often they have used parallel techniques adapted for theatrical purpose’ (Shank, 1983:16).

Between 1975 and 1977 Pilgrim and Goddard were co-directors and often the sole performers for the company. During this time the company performed at small-scale events throughout Britain and developed a series of public places performances, conceived as single images in motion, with a surrealistic variation. For example, Pilgrim and Goddard at the Brighton Pier in 1976: two elegantly dressed women who start to argue and put on boxing gloves to fight. ‘Then we began to get a bit cold so we started working indoors as well…the theatricality… grew bit by bit…’ (Pilgrim interviewed by Dixon, 1982:13).

With Points of Departure presented at Oval House in 1977, the company started to establish a more theatrical framework to its productions. As Hesitate and Demonstrate’s performances were mostly non-verbal, sound and lighting were not only the accompaniment to the images, but also its revealing elements: ‘The sound is our script and the light is the beginning of our patchwork of colours’ (Pilgrim, interviewed by Dixon, 1982:13). Sound was used to create not only the atmosphere of a scene but also to hint at what lay underneath, subtly revealing what a character was thinking or dreaming. The sound designer for all of Hesitate and Demonstrates early productions was John Darling.

In 1979 Goddard left the company and Pilgrim became the sole Artistic Director, responsible for creating the initial concepts and images and directing/designing each production whilst devising with the company as the performers in each show always shared collaborative responsibility. Pilgrim having decided on the theme and initial images would collaborate with Darling on the sound. She would then work with the performers and the lighting designer devising the show. The whole company contributed in the process which usually lasted about eight weeks. This devising period took place in coffee shops and company members’ homes as Hesitate and Demonstrate never had a rehearsal space until 1984- which even then they rarely used. The script would then be initially put together in great detail, consisting of images, sound, performer’s movements and lighting cues. Objects were always a source of inspiration, either when bought in response to an idea or inspiring an idea when found by chance. Rehearsing for Hesitate and Demonstrate only began when the company were based in the space in which they were to perform the piece and they built the environment on site. During this often very short, residency stage, the final images were realised and rehearsed. While touring, the productions were always undergoing a process of constant reassessment and were often re-worked.

Personal appraisal and thoughts:
Geraldine Pilgrim sums up the Hesitate and Demonstrate timeline in 3 main phases:
Phase 1, with herself and Janet Goddard as Co- Founders and Co- Artistic Directors starting with street and gallery work then moving into theatre based performances starting at the Oval House Upstairs as their London base and then to the ICA with John Darling as Lighting and Sound Designer and Sally Cranfield subsequently joining.
Phase 2, Janet left and Geraldine became sole Artistic Director, a residency at Chapter Arts Centre resulted in a new company combination of Lizza Aitken and Alex Mavrocordatus as performers and Tom Donnellan as Lighting Designer. The company then fully entered the British touring circuit and the European Festival circuit and were funded both by ACGB and also the British Council.
Phase 3, the final phase when the company combination became mainly international and was based at the ITC theatre Bologna Italy and in St James Institute in London until its demise.
Please, use the links below to read Geraldine’s further accounts of Hesitate and Demonstrate:

Hesitate and Demonstrate 1975-1979
Hesitate and Demonstrate 1979-1982
Hesitate and Demonstrate 1982-1986

Geraldine Pilgrim: ‘When you are seen as a visual artist, it doesn’t matter if for example you work with an image of a bird, and you then go on to develop that image of a bird and you are allowed to repeat it, and the image adapts and grows. Whereas in the theatre I then discovered apparently you are never supposed to repeat the same thing twice. …for me it is one of the main differences between performance and theatre: … in performance work you can look back at something you have created and you can re-mould it, for me that is the nature of creativity.’

Reviews:

Horrid Things

‘…like the best poetry, the images are exact, their sequence seemingly inevitable, yet endlessly open to interpretation.’ (Adrian Henri in P.S. Primary Sources on the International Performing Arts, 1979)
‘The group have poise…a tight, sophisticated, widely referential approach, essentially literary and imaginistic, very much concerned with the visual potency of their tableaux’ (Time Out, 1979) 
Goodnight Ladies!

‘…is a milestone in performance, it evokes dream, nightmare, the unconscious, nostalgia and achieves that painterly quality that those of us starved of images long to see on stage’ (City Limits, 1982)
‘One way of describing [Goodnight Ladies!] is as a cinematic dream montage drawing on our collective impressions of mainly pre-war train-mistery-secret-police-European-spy films. … It is more evocation than homage, played straight, powerfully refined.’ (Neil Hornick in Performance Magazine, 1982)

PRODUCTION NAMESVENUEDATES
Blackbirds
Created/ devised/ designed/ performed: Geraldine Pilgrim, Janet Goddard
Alfred Jarry Night, Bratford Art College on 4th of July 1975,
Southampton City Art Gallery October 1975
July 1975
Monkey Puzzle
Created/ devised/ designed/ performed: Geraldine Pilgrim, Janet Goddard
Southampton City Art Gallery,
Oval House Theatre Upstairs, November 1975
1975
Points of Departure
Created/ devised/ designed/ performed: Geraldine Pilgrim, Janet Goddard
Sound and lighting: John Darling

Oval House Theatre Upstairs,
Goldsmith College University of London,
BBC Film of Points of Departure August 1977
May 1977
Ha Ha
Artistic Directors/Designers: Geraldine Pilgrim, Janet Goddard
Devised with the company
Performers: Geraldine Pilgrim, Janet Goddard/Sally Cranfield
Sound and lighting: John Darling
Leeds Polytechnic performance space,
Oval House Theatre Upstairs, Bradford Theatre in the Mill
November 1977
Horrid Thing
Artistic Directors/ Designers: Geraldine Pilgrim, Janet Goddard
Devised with the company
Performers: Geraldine Pilgrim, Janet Goddard/Sally Cranfield
Sound and lighting: John Darling

Oval House Theatre Upstairs
January 1978 (first version)
April 1979 (reworked version)
Minutes
Artistic Directors/ Designers: Geraldine Pilgrim, Janet Goddard
Devised with the company
Performers: Geraldine Pilgrim, Janet Goddard/Sally Cranfield/ John Darling
Sound and lighting: John Darling
Oval House Theatre Upstairs, ICA Theatre, Milkveg Amsterdam, Bradford Theatre in the Mill

May 1978
Frozen Moments
Artistic Directors/ Designers Geraldine Pilgrim, Janet Goddard
Devised with the company
Performers: Geraldine Pilgrim, Janet Goddard, Sally Cranfield
Sound: John Darling
Acme Gallery (London)July 1978
No Regrets
Artistic Directors/ Designers: Geraldine Pilgrim, Janet Goddard
Devised with the company
Performers: Geraldine Pilgrim, Janet Goddard, Sally Cranfield, Melanie Thompson
Sound and lighting: John Darling


Oval House Theatre downstair, Bradford Theatre in The Mill, Hemel Hempstead Arts Centre, Jacksons Lane London,
Mickery Theatre (Amsterdam), Mickery touring circuit in the Netherlands
October 1978
Scars
Artistic Directors/ Designers: Geraldine Pilgrim, Janet Goddard
Devised with the company
Performers: 1st version, Geraldine Pilgrim, Janet Goddard, Gill Greenhaulgh, Jan Hardisty. 2nd version, Geraldine Pilgrim, Janet Goddard, Didi Hopkins Jan Hardisty
Sound and lighting: John Darling

1st version: Liverpool Academy Gallery.
2nd version: ICA Theatre London, York Arts Centre, Aarhus Made in Britain Festival Denmark
May 1979 (first version)
August-October 1979 (reworked version)
Excuse Me
Artistic Director/ Designer: Geraldine Pilgrim
Devised with the company
Performers: 1st version, Geraldine Pilgrim, Didi Hopkins, Carol Dooley, Jane Nash, Alex Mavrocordatus. 2nd version, Geraldine Pilgrim, Natasha Morgan, Carol Dooley, Jane Nash, Alex Mavrocordatus
Sound and lighting: John Darling

Oval House Theatre downstairs, Nottingham Trent Poly Theatre, Sheffield Crucible Studio Theatre, York Arts Centre, Hull Arts Centre,
Bull and Gate Theatre Kentish Town, Belgium Kai Theatre, Rennes Festival France, Mickery Theatre and tour

January 1980 (first version)
March 1980 (reworked version)
Do Not Disturb
Artistic Director/ Designer: Geraldine Pilgrim
Devised with the company
Performers: Geraldine Pilgrim, Lizza Aitken, Alex Mavrocordatus,
Sound: John Fiske
Lighting:Tom Donnellan
First performed from a residency at Chapter Arts Centre. Toured Britain and Mainland Europe extensively including Nottingham Trent Poly Theatre, Leadmill Sheffield, York Arts Centre,
Bradford Theatre in the Mill, Midland Group Nottingham, Poland tour, Holland tour, Theatre De Velt Cologne
November 1980
Goodnight Ladies
Artistic Director/ Designer: Geraldine Pilgrim
Devised with the company, Goodnight Ladies was based on Points of Departure originally devised by Geraldine Pilgrim and Janet Goddard
Performers: Alex Mavrocordatus, Lizza Aiken, Andrejz Borkowski. Italian Tour: Chahine Yavroyan, Geraldine Pilgrim, Andrejz Borkowski.
Nb: Initially the two other male performers would be recruited from available friends and colleagues including: Steve Whitson, Jan Hardisty, John Darling and subsequently recruited from the touring venues. After Andrejz Borkowski came from Poland to became a permanent member of the company one male performer was recruited from the touring venues.
Sound: John Darling
Lighting: Tom Donnellan.
Touring technician: Vick Kravchenko




Developed from a residency at the Jeanetta Cochrane Theatre /Central School at Art and the Lantaren Theatre Rotterdam. Then an extensive UK tour including the ICA and European tour (including Italy, Belgium, Holland, Spain, Germany, Poland ). Performed at the Public Theatre (New York) as part of the ‘Britain Salutes New York’ festival, June 1983. Toured for two and half years.1981-1983
Shangri-La
Artistic Director/ Designer: Geraldine Pilgrim
Devised with the company
Performers: Alex Mavrocordatus, Anderzj Borkowski ,Lizza Aitken, Geraldine Pilgrim
Lighting: Tom Donnellan
Sound: Pete Moser
Touring technician: Vick Kravchenko/Rick Fisher
Developed from a residency at the Lantaren Theatre Rotterdam, then an extensive UK tour including the ICA and European tour1983-1984
So No More Songs of Love
Artistic Director/ Designer: Geraldine Pilgrim
Devised with the company
Performers: Original cast, Didi Hopkins, Geraldine Pilgrim, Jan Hardisty, Tyrone Huggins. Sally Cranfield replaced Geraldine Pilgrim for the UK tour
Sound: Chahine Yavroyan
Lighting: Jan Hardisty
Touring technician: Johnny Mac
Developed at St. James Institute then an extensive UK tour and European tour 198-1985
A Woman Alone
Artistic Director/ Designer: Geraldine Pilgrim
Devised with the company
Performers:Natasha Cashman, Daniele Sala, Lille-mour Jonsson, Maurizio Cardillo
Sound: Chahine Yavroyan
Lighting: Johan Yonk

Developed from a residency at ITC Theatre (Bologna, IT) then an extensive Italian tour and one performance in the UK at Warwick Arts Centre1986

Interviewee reference: Geraldine Pilgrim.

Links: Geraldine Pilgrim website

Existing Archive Material: Geraldine Pilgrim holds a personal collection of Hesitate and Demonstrate archive materials. All the material listed in the bibliography is held at the Unfinished Histories Archive.

Bibliography:
Dreams and Deconstructions, Alternative Theatre in Britain
ed. Sandy Craig (AmberLane Press Limited: Ambergate, 1980)
Hesitate and Demonstrate: A Photographic Portrait and Script  by Adrian Henri in P.S. Primary Sources on the International Performing Arts (vol.1 pp.8-13, June-July 1979)
Geraldine Pilgrim by Luke Dixon in Performance Magazine (vol.17 p.13-14, 1982)
Night Train to Freedonia by Neil Hornick in Performance Magazine (vol.17 p.15-16, 1982)
Paintings You Can See Into: Hesitate and Demonstrate by Theodore Shank in The Drama Review, New European and US Theatre, (Mit Press: New York University,  Vol.27 pp. 3-16, spring 1983)
Breaking the Boundaries: The People Show, Lumiere & Son and Hesitate and Demonstrate by Lynn Sobiesky in Contemporary British Theatre ed. Theodore Shank (Backingstoke: Macmillan, pp. 89:106, 1994)
ArtsAdmin 20 Years (ArtsAdmin, London 1999)
Devising Performance, a Critical History by Deirdre Heddon and Jane Milling (Palgrave McMillan, 2005)
Histories and Practices of Live Art ed.  Deirdre Heddon and Jennie Klein (Palgrave McMillan, 2012)
Geraldine Pilgrim interviewed by Natasha Morgan (audio) 1986. CD 1-2-3. Copies are held at the Unfinished Histories Archive, British Library Sound Archive and Natasha Morgan personal holdings.

Acknowledgements: This page has been constructed by Sara Scalzotto, with gratitude to Geraldine Pilgrim who wrote the initial company information and Company work and process sections. November 2013

The creation of this page was supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.