The joy of index

worries from Oli Clark on Vimeo.


“First time I read the dictionary, I thought it was a poem about everything.” Steven Wright.

I love lists. I don’t love them in the classic interview answer way: “I’m a very organized person, I love making lists”; I love them in the cliched contemporary theatre director way: “I love reading lists”.

Lists are a simple way of breaking away from the tyranny of ‘the story’ because they don’t share the rules of a story. They have beginnings, middles and ends only in so far as there is always the first entry, the last entry and some in the middle.

Lots of people share my joy of lists; a few weeks ago I attended a performance which was an hour long list of Worries written by Lucy Harvey and read by Michael Wolters and Paul Norman. I enjoyed the performance very much up to a point and beyond that point I enjoyed considering why I’d stopped enjoying it so much and that led me to consider the challenges of sustaining a really good list.

Long standing friend of Stan and counter of sneezes Peter Fletcher is approaching the tenth anniversary of his legendary list Sneeze Count. His approach is for an almost arbitrary event – a sneeze – to trigger a miniature fragment of autobiographical writing. It’s a great list.

Of course I tend to enjoy most the purity of the found list, such as the list of all the Top 40 hits that start with the word Love, which provides the text for our radio piece Love List. A few days ago I was sent a very pleasing list painstakingly put together by the excellent Dr. Mark Crossley, it is the index for our forthcoming book Devising Theatre with Stan’s Cafe. I enjoyed reading it so much I thought I’d share one of my favourite sections with you. This may be in breach of copyright but we’ll risk it.

tasks / task-based, 15, 24, 28, 55, 61, 64-69, 90, 102-103, 110, 113, 118, 142, 160, 170, 174-176, 179, 185, 189, 213, 224, 230-231
Tarkovsky, Andrei, 112, 141, 143-144, 236
tea, 62-63, 73, 149,
tension, 41, 52-54, 59, 84, 100, 130, 172, 182, 185, 227-228
Terry and June, 66
Text, xv, 28, 95-120, 163, 200, 226, 231, 234

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