Table Manners is one of a series of new formats for performance and discourse devised by Professor David Toop during his role as UAL Chair of Audio Culture and Improvisation.
The set-up is simple and intimate. In a quiet space, two performers (instrumentalists, singers or sound artists) sit opposite each other across a small table. The audience sits around them in a circle.
They begin with sounds, then gradually begin to talk about a previously agreed subject specific to the performance – radio, gardens or food - conversing informally but also improvising with sound in their own way, never quite settling on either one mode or the other, sometimes moving out of synch with their opposite partner, sometimes lost for words, sometimes performing and speaking simultaneously.
As a performance strategy, Table Manners lies somewhere between a séance, a chess match, table tennis, awkward dinner date and interrogation, blurring and confusing boundaries between sound art installation, music performance, public lecture, Q&A and private conversation. Are there rules? Probably, but does anybody know what they are?
For the first three presentations of Table Manners, the performers invited to sit across the table from David Toop were singer Elaine Mitchener, sound artist and singer Haco and sculptor Rie Nakajima.