Ruth Barker

As Pages Turned And Ink Was Spilt

2009
Royal Edinburgh Hospital
as pages turned performance image as pages turned performance image as pages turned performance image

Performance, running time 8 minutes.

the 1000 word text was memorised, and then performed as a spoken word event by the artist. 

As Pages Turned And Ink Was Spilt was written for and performed at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Morningside Place, Edinburgh. The Royal Edinburgh Hospital provides acute psychiatric and mental health services, including treatment for learning disabilities and dementia. The performance was scripted specifically for the hospital residents as an Artlink commission, and was performed four times on 15/01/09 - twice in the hospital's residential wards, and twice in more public areas of the hospital (pictured). Staff and residents were present at the performances, and due to the nature of the location, the artist performed seated, and without a microphone.  The event was curated and managed by Ciara Phillips. Images 1) and 2) courtesy of Anthony Schrag; Image 3) courtesy of Ciara Phillips.

 

TEXT:

As Pages Turned And Ink Was Spilt

Once upon a time a Good Queen picked an apple, ate the pips and grew a story in her belly that grew into a bump that grew into a girl, who grew into a Princess; only child to the Good Queen and her husband the King.

In time the Princess grew and she grew up and she grew strong. But she grew to watch the Good Queen her mother grow sick and dim. Grew to watch the Good Queen her mother pass away and die. Grew to watch the King her father take a new and jealous wife as Queen and as Stepmother tot he Princess.

But the Princess was soon a young woman, and she had blonde hair long enough to spin as rope, and her clear skin was as white as snow, and her lips were as red as roses, and her feet were so tiny that she wore glass slippers. She wore a red hood to go riding, and was loved by everyone who met her, except her Wicked Stepmother the Queen, who hated her very life and every moment that she lived it.

And then as pages turned and ink was spilt, the Wicked Queen wished to rid herself of this Princess now grown too beautiful, and so the Wicked Queen wept a Royal Declaration: when a year and a day have passed, the first one at the castle gate will take our Princess as his wife.

And so they waited, days passed, and the Princess grew more lovely by the moment, until the setting sun itself regretted the hour when it passed from her skin. Three hundred and sixty six times the sun crossed the kingdom and returned to her, breaking its rays over the horizon, tearing the clouds from its skies in order to embrace her loveliness again. Three hundred and sixty six times the sun rose. One year, and one day has passed. And there was a knocking at the castle gate.

An ogre stood to claim his prize and wed his bride, called only by the logic of the story that demanded that he come. He came, and the Princess recoiled.

This ogre was of a foul and rank creation; the worst that any girl could fear to take to bridal bed. Thick skinned and clogged with dirt and rot he grinned a mouth of poisoned lies, and offered her his arm. The Princess choked. Beside him lay a dark hide bag, so heavy and corrupt she could not think of what he’d made it. The bag lay fat, like a drunken dream of trespass, as it blackened out the threshold to her home.

And so the ogre asked for the Princess’s hand, and would have taken it, but the Princess said:

“Old man, old man, I will take your hand if you make me a coat of the finest silk to wear on my wedding day.”

And the ogre grunted and he raised his blunted right arm to the crease of its filth and he lashed the bag with a quick black stick and he took from it a silken coat and he gave the coat to the Princess, but the Princess said:

“Old man, old man, I will take your hand if you make me a coat of absolute silver to wear on my wedding day.”

And the ogre grunted and he raised his blunted right arm to the crease of its filth and he lashed the bag with a quick black stick and he took from it a silver coat and he gave the coat to the Princess, but the Princess said:

“Old man, old man, I will take your hand if you make me a coat of the steepest gold to wear on my wedding day.”

And the ogre grunted and he raised his blunted right arm to the crease of its filth and he lashed the bag with a quick black stick and he took from it a golden coat and he gave the coat to the Princess, but the Princess said:

“Old man, old man, I will take your hand if you make me a coat as bright as the sun to wear on my weddng day.”

And the ogre grunted and he raised his blunted right arm to the crease of its filth and he lashed the bag with a quick black stick and he took from it a coat as bright as the sun. And he gave the coat to the Princess, but the Princess said nothing as she put on her bright coat and blinded the ogre as he burnt and turned away.

Then the Princess ran away from the bones of the ogre and she ran away from the castle and she ran away from her kingdom and she ran towards the handsome arms of the setting sun, whom she married and she lived with happy ever after until the end of the story.