Gigogne: Archive of a Collaboration

This is the full archive of an amazing collaboration with the Paris based artist Julie Dalmon who contacted me in 2002 via a trawl of London writers listed on AOL.

This records all our online conversations at this time as we shared ideas and drafts. We’re still in touch and talking about another collaboration.


Gigogne Read Through, London 2004


Extracts from Emails between Julie Riou & Chris Meade

May 2002 – January 2003

Member Name: béca

Location: FRANCE

Sex: Female

Marital Status: CELIBATAIRE


Computers: PC

Occupation: Artist

Member Name; Snugandoutdoor

Location: LONDON

Sex: Male

Marital Status: Married, 46, two children

Occupation: Writer, Arts Administrator

Personal Quote: “This is a world of Imagination & Vision” – William Blake

hello Snugandout !

I’ve just read your personal card, I’m very interested in. I’m writing to you cause i’d like to find your help, working on my play.

Well, actualy, I’m Julie, 24 in Paris, and I’m putting on a play I need someone to write… The story bord I made is quite precised, but very free and unperfect : if we talk about it, i’m curious of your opinion.

I drew mine inspiration from Gertrude Stein’s texts. That’s the reason why i’d like to work with an English person for the script ! I read that you are a musician too ? A drummer ? I’m interrested in that too, mecause music will be an important part of the play, live music will be included. I’ve already got friends happy to help me that way (professional musicians, and olders than me, that i think it’s good)

I didn’t look for money now, but i hope to find subsidies… Would you work, just for the fun ??? :))

Or, if you could just give me your advice, not working really on it, it would be great too ! ?

I’m not going to explain you all the thing, because you are perhaps not interrested. So, *I’m waiting for your answer, let me know,


Well, what an interesting e-mail! Yes, I’d be very interested to know more about your play. I have written for the theatre and would love to get back to it. I live in London and run a charity promoting books and literature, I also am conga player in a band which plays (for fun) Buena Vista Social Club-type Latin American music. Please do send me your storyboard and I could certainly give some advice whatever.

All the best,


The pictures I sent you are taken from the scenary I made at the end of this project, as a played application of the applied arts principles I developped. The subject born of an object I was observing for two years : a very poetic metallic, old and colored top. This magic toy made me work on luxury, danse, life, air, music, repetition, overlaped “nest of ” (not sure of the word : “gigogne” in french), extreme sensibility, precious, dreams, projections, protection, transpearence….

And most of all, I turned the top into a person, studying how we are at the same time, a result of what surrounds us (the top is under the quality of the material wich it is mooving on, like a victim) , and the creator of what is surrounding us… These point of view gave me three caracters of the play : the actress-dancer, the manipulator-lover, and the relator. Perhaps the actress caracter should be divided in “gigogne”‘s ones.. I don’t really know.

For the athmosphere, I dream of an aerian, dramatic, quite and mute area. Only the music and the relator would be eared (Gertrude stein’s words are perfect for the expression of music and cycles). The play is a dance between the actress(es) and her home own space : at the beginnig, the house is invisible, looking like a packed new one. The actress is very heavy and like a colored “gigogne” statue. At the end, it’s the like Newton’s discs)or not (a compact ball). Perhap is it easy to say top is an allegory of life, when people don’t stay, whereas their intimity space (home, music, texts, memory) can remain omnipresents ? … I simply feel that way.

ok… enought to begin, isn’t it ? Would you tell me what is and not ? What draws your inspiration, what do you think is less good ?

Thank you for your time,

Julie Riou

Dear Julie,

I was at the Matisse Picasso show at Tate Modern today and saw the portrait of Stein and thought of you. Now I find you’ve sent me your amazing set designs and fascinating outline of what you have in mind. Let me think it over but I’m really interested. A major influene on me was Picasso’s play ‘Three Little Girls’ – do you know it? Years ago I wrote a play called We Two Boys, (the title of a painting by Hockney). I am busy, but like the idea of a project like this, and am still stunned that you found me on the internet! I’ll be in touch, What’s your deadline for this by the way, or is it a longterm project?

All best


Dear Chris,

Thank you very much for your comments. I’m very glad you thought my set designs and outlines were amazing. I searched through the Internet to find the play “Three Little Girls”. However, I couldn’t find it. Neither could I find “We Two Boys.” Could you, by chance, email me a copy of these plays or perhaps refer me to the website where I can find them? Who made the scenary for the play you wrote? Do you have any photographs of this play you can email to me?”

You think my project is bizarre, not very clear ? We certainly need to meet each other and discuss it looking at my all scenery, and at the objects, the clothes I made. By the way, it’s sure that my project has to be criticized and corrected a lot. It’s the reason why I don’t want to work alone, but with a team. i didn’t take any date to go to London for the moment, but I’ll try to come soon. I hope to see you there.

So, Chris, thank you very much for spending time;

See you soon in my letter box ?

Julie Riou.

Yes, I’m keen to meet up with you on friday, and I’ll see if Hattie can come too. At Spitalfields Market there’s a bar called the Spitz which is well known. How about there at 3pmYou can call me there when you get to London.

I haven’t had much time to think about your project yet, but I’ll bring along a copy of my play and we can talk it through then.

Looking forward to meeting my internet friend!

Hi Julie,

Well it was fascinating and lovely to meet you both on Friday. Your dissertation is a beautiful document, rich with great images, and I’m trying to understand more of the text. I hope you weren’t disappointed by the real me! I am excited by the potential of this piece, whatever comes of it, and will try to send you some kind of treatment in the next few days. Let me know if you’ve had any other thoughts since we spoke.

Shame you missed the party – it was a very good night – but no matter.

All the best


How is my famous writter today ?

Well, I hope ! 🙂

I guess you finally didn’t have time enought to begin with the play ?

At last, I escaped from the disappointing area where I was, and thought of a lot a things, new things for the setting, and the actions, music…

Do you manage thinking about the subject while you are working ? I know you are busy, but, whatever you have in mind, or not, I think it would be great, if you could make soon a short beginning, in order to discuss about it . Even if it is very very oversimplified. I don’t want to force your inspiration, but we have to begin one day, you know ? ! Let’s beginning writting sentences, sounds, musical parts of ideas… I don’t know ! I would like you to work with your words like you are used to play drums : sensitively, intuitively… If you feel it lt this way of course !

Keep in mind Stein’s sentences that are written in the “memoire” I gave you. Do you have the ‘tender buttons” texts ? This texts are the reference.

I propose You to think about the parts, exactly the way i’m working with Yannick for the music:

1) Storm, air , cataclysm, violence, birth, bass beats, heartbeats, fear, expecting, big bang… live ! (short)

2) Quiet, calm, naked, new, young, awakening, first discovers, (short)

3) Game, mistakes, rules, energy, songs, experiences, growing up, piling up, maturation, space and body relationship, gigogne areas and persons. influence of the environnement under the individual human being, and the inverse (long)

4) accumulation, distorsion, too much, bizarre, strange, false, trap, wrong way, slower and slower, heavyer, and heavyer, darker, less air, suffocation

oldness ( slow, medium)

5) body death, body soul dance, return to the beginning. Cycle. very much air pushing out the bodies . things are still there, bodies have passed.

I’m working on the storybord, and will try to send you things at the end of the week, to make things go in the same order. What do you think about all that, Chris ?

Read you soon, all the best,


Ebbeca: hello Chri s!!

Snugandout: Hi there Julie, and I’m actually at work on the treatment right now!

Ebbeca: really ? I let you work quietly !

Snugandout: Probably a good idea. How about you? Hows the chandelier?

Ebbeca: they are at their very beginning !

Ebbeca: but i’m at home now, so I’m here for thinking about my own project… Tired of chandeliers !

Snugandout: Ok. How do you feel about the Narrator being covered in layers at first, like a prengnant person/the top/gigogne and the dancer starting off wearing little, then the Narrator gradually takes off different clothes which the dancer puts on to create different personalities for different rooms??

Ebbeca: it’s a good idea, why not…

THE PLAY presents five facets of one old woman whose memory is a blur – everything in her familiar environment has become invisible to her. But she has suddenly regained a strong sense of herself.

She has come FULL CIRCLE in her life.

At the start: the storm, everything in chaos around the woman who is spun like a top by the Manipulator.

Then five women climb out from the ground (as if from a nuclear bunker).

These five facets play musical chairs as elements of the room descend.

The losers are banished to stand frozen in different rooms of the house.

In the following scenes each Gigogne enacts a different aspect of the woman.

In the BEDROOM is the spoilt PRINCESS. She is innocent and fresh to things.

She brushes her hair, looks in the mirror, imagines her prince, but she is brittle and proud.

She talks about: ponies, jewels, cinderella-type fantasies, privelege, failed friendships with the ‘ordinary’ people

In the KITCHEN is the HOUSEWIFE, playing at making cakes, letting the washing up stack up into towers.

Her talk is about an imaginary brood of children, babies and husbands for whom she provides. She is hard working, sturdy, but resentful of her load.

Games of pat-a-cake, bizarre recipes, Cosmo-type advice for the Ideal Mum….

In the BATHROOM is the BATHER, sensual and animal, a wild side of her which she tries to control by washing herself obsessively. But then she luxuriates in the bath.

Her talk is sexual and scatalogical. She tries to wash away her sins.

In the SITTING ROOM is the VIEWER, depressed and passive, soaking up reality TV and cartoon fantasies.

Her talk is about an office job, the dull routine, her ambitions thwarted, loneliness, the Internet, TV, pills to suppress her worries and passions.

Finally in the GARDEN the NARRATOR begins to appreciate how her isolation has allowed her to live in the imagination, to allow herself to play with the different aspects of herself.

The five gigognes play. The NARRATOR has gone full circle to unlock herself. She waters cut flowers, she escapes from the house, climbing up her own hair(?) to be free/to die…

A rather predictable analysis would be that the woman was traumatised in childhood by taboo sexual feelings (perhaps an abusive uncle ), has fended off adult relations ever since, and now in old age goes back to that time to confront her fears and free herself.

Ebbeca: I think we are on quite same waves, don’t you ?

Snugandout: I think we are on the same waves yes!

Snugandout: (wavelength actually)

Ebbeca: oh thak you ! I was searchoing the word in my dictionnary !

Ebbeca: i’ve a big lack of vocabulary, you know ?

Ebbeca: I’m working on the game of chase, rhymes they chant. I’ll send it later today oh yes !

Snugandout: I’d like the woman to be living in a place which is a mix of paris and london. the writing should have some of the feel of our correspondence i think. infact i find myself writing in your kind of english !

Ebbeca: i liked this rythmic too

Minded to spin in the green green light. I ask you. And asked everything of everybody

Snugandout: And its a pleasure to be quoted back to myself!

Ebbeca: 🙂

Ebbeca: my kind of english ? It would be a disaster, Chris !!!

Snugandout: No – its very poetic actually!

Ebbeca: what does that mean ? childish english ?!!

Snugandout: And so strange that our ideas connect given how you found me

Snugandout: No, you bend the language in interesting ways.

Snugandout: brb

Ebbeca: yes, I’m very very very happy to have found you !

Ebbeca: i tjink i build english like french sentences, that’s all !

hello Chris !

Your text is magic…I am really impressed… and very happy you respected all the ideas we discussed about. Thank you for being so conscientious and implicated.

Now, shall you read it again, and try to make another version wtih more rythmical sentences, and poetic sounds (“alitérations” in french) ? really like a psalm.

I’m trying to make the stirybord of the second part, so we ‘ll be abble to discuss about it next. Pleasen if you can wait having the drawings before to write definitively, it would be perfect ! I appreciate your ses of articulate the scene together… I join your text, if you can read my comments, and tell me about it ?

read you,



GIGOGNE: (is she the narrator ?)

Wha?? Where was I? When I saw – a blur – all blur – What? Everything spins and I fear to topple. I am toddler and totterer both – that terrible, beautiful, blessed, scented morning.

Spring obviously, as it always is back then; honey-suckle and fresh lawns and applesharp deedah (don’t understand this word)and beeswax(nor this one), mind your own. Minded. Child. Minded to spin in the green green light. ( i like the rythmic) I ask you. And asked everything of everybody.

Why is the sky blue and the hole black and the how many light bulbs does it take to make a sun, Mummy? (very nice, i like this flash back !, the picture)Child chided (word..?.). For playing tictack with the ruffians, scuffing my best – what a crime! Go to your room! Go on! Up the stairs to Bedfordshire(word ?). Brush your briar-tangled locks! Get hot and hurt, you and your red-eyed gang! You witches!

Where?? Where was I? And where are you, weird sisters, stirrers and spellbinders. Where are you locked up with me somewhere in the ivory tinkling tower? I hear you still – yes – sniggering and gibbering through keyholes. Do I? O -i like that !

i don’t understand this part

The derangement – quite pleasant sometimes – off my rocker/ trolley /tree etcetera – going round the bend and up the road to pastures brimming.

How many breathes does it take to make a lifetime daddy? Not so many more.

i like that flash back, and the idea is very poetic too !

I keep my breathings in little stone boxes which I shut with a click and lock (nice rythmic) inside slightly larger boxes. I adore this idea beatifull picture

I breath into lockets (the thing you put on your neck ?)and plastic bags, store them in baskets on the off chance that it shall never come to me: when I shall lay me down to rest, sleep till the maggots mingle with my brain and the slugs lick my jelly eyes my oozy eyes my barefaced eyes all naked naked o what sights we are seeing sister!

O God forbid are we so filled with the light with spun gold blurred invisible the known world the virgin lands. Wake me to a world fresh baked and body bared and all awakening! i like


Bedroom: (princess and pea

really nice idea to put the light on the princess, narrator and princess again because of the incident. i like this exchange and parallel)

PRINCESS stands in THE BEDROOM like a sleepwalker. She opens her eyes suddenly and gasps.

She takes off her nightie, places it over a lamp and the light dims.

She brushes her hair…

(i like the hair role, perhaps making a relation with the 3 Greek godesses that are making live’s thread(Clotho, Lachesis, Atropos), and the sleeping beauty that injure herself on the spinnig weel ?

(NARRATOR explores her privileged, spoilt upbringing. The dancer finds a pea in her bed. Takes it the kitchen…. what dancer ? one from another room ?)



In the kitchen the next dancer, COOK, bakes a cake, plays pat-a-cake

(what is that game ???) , mummies and daddies, discovers the OBJECTS of the home.

Fantasies of being wife and mother, mixed with dread of it too.

(nice !)


Bathroom – Snow white

Sex games and songs as the child slowly becomes adult. This becomes a frantic scene, with the dancer trying to scrub her clothes and her self clean, to clear out her system like a bulimic etc.

(i like that. Not sure about the way to write sex games ! but why not… if it’s by poetry !

(i drew a bathroom where the dancer is following a kind of puddles /flat bowls route before to access to the bath bowl. (remember the foot tiny contact with the watter ?) She could make bowls singing, dancing with them too. You talk about a frantic scene, and, a few days ago, i imagined that , on the wall, we could have projection of views : on the left, a right view of the bathroom; on the right a left view of the bathroom, on the back, a above view, like in a kaleidoscope. Perhaps it is quite the same idea of looking everywhere and clean every part ?


Sitting Room – TV cartoons/reality TV

The dancer is a couch potato, watching Reality TV, having fended off relationships.

She is drugging herself (yes ! hypnotic top)- suffocating.

Miss Potato Head, Miss Cabbage Brain, Miss Melons-for-breasts heavy as bombs on the sofa in slo-mo, blood’s whoosh and blink. Suffocating on this hot air of punditry, very nice reality tv: sitting in a room watching an empty room.

Via the web seeking out dull people from other incontinents. The sticky fingered web full of creepy crawlers.

Mister Bigcheese visited yesterday. Mama was pleased. We ate pleasantries and spoke of modes of torture in foreign climes. How starchy he was I thought.

I am learning backgammon, the bolero, nuclear physics, the square root of pi – I think I get it. I like the fact you are writting in passed time, but i think it’s too much illustrative. i would prefer something more poetic, even if the meanning is the same (taste of unfair, disgust of happiness, something negative is appropriate, yes.)

Let us speak of filing cabinets, square, smug and stuffed full of stuff. Lines of guardmen at attention,

The fax stutters, the internet whines and whirrs. yes !

No air.


Garden – Rumpelstiltskin

this is fabulous

The next dancer is watering the cut flowers she places in vases in the ground.

Imagining her own funeral.

She has locked herself away all her life, but now remembers that feeling of spinning when she first felt love and desire. (

yes, a cycle)

The dancers come together and at last the Narrator “lets down her hair” – then climbs up her own hair to escape from the room which is now filled with objects.

(beautifull idea)

Bedtime, Gigogne

Baby, my baby,

My possible,my probable

My might be, my maybe.

Sleep sweet Gigogne


Bedtime, Gigogne

Baby, my baby,

My possible,my probable

My might be, my maybe.

Sleep sweet Gigogne

Haunting this home

Where an old lady lives

Where a hurricane came.

Sleep sweet Gigogne


Bedtime, Gigogne

Baby, O baby

My possible, my probable

My might be, my maybe.

Spoilt Gigogne

Thrown in a spin

Where an old lady cries

When a story unfolds

Begin sweet Gigogne


Dans un courrier daté du 01/12/02 18:55:50, Booktrust a écrit :


Bedtime, Gigogne

Baby, my baby,

My possible,my probable

My might be, my maybe.

Sleep sweet Gigogne


Hi Chris,

And congratulations for the words, they seem to make sense 🙂

In order to help me make them fit the melody, would u please tell me: in ur mind, do they begin like the melody i sent u lately, i mean, a kind of “verse chorus” rythm ?

Thanx in advance,


Hi Julie & Vita,

I just phoned Julie’s answerphone and sang Gigogne! I hope I got the right number!

Let me know if that’s helpful. The first verse is shorter than the second, and the third ends verrrrry slowly – I’ve changed the last verse so it’s simpler:

Hello Chris!

Thank you very much for your lolobye on my answerphone !! It was delicious and so funny !

We agreed with Vita, on that the sens is nice, the words right, but still too many !! He will try to add notes in the music composition, but if you could make the more long syllabs shorter, it would be perfect… The aim is that people understand and remember it very easily. You are really near the best version ! We will make the moovie and photographs on friday evening. I’ll tell you how it was !!

I read the beginning of your new script, but didn’t have time enought to read it entirely. I’ve so much sewing to make this days… Thank you for your nice work, i’ll tell you about it in a few days, after the moovie’s sequence !!

Hello Chris !

We made the photo and the film on saturday, it xas a great moment, with a lot of tire, but many nice feelings !

I’ll have the film next week, and the phots at the end of this one. We’ll put the sound on the moovie when we’ll got it. I’ll try to send you a copy by postmail, okey ?

I have to got to my mother place, in Le mans tomorrow, and will be back on saturday. I’ll try to read all the stuff you sent me there and will telle you about it this week end.

Have a nice week,



I’m glad it went well, Julie. As I said the last draft of the script has a different kind of beginning, but then becomes random notes for scenes. Don’t waste too much time on it. Work is hectic and stressful at the moment so I have little time before Christmas I’m afraid. But afterwards I’ll have a few days away to work on it. Is that okay?

Dora (my daughter) and I have started seeing a french tutor – a woman called Helene, born in Le Mans!

Enjoy your visit.

Looking forward to seeing the video.

All the best