Notes for a Speech on (Canadian) Flagmaking
by Dale Lakevold
Excerpts of the 2004 installation at the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba
This excerpt from Notes for a Speech on (Canadian) Flagmaking is Part One of a four-part narrative. The audio adaptation of the full script has a running time of about 45 minutes. In the story, a character called the Flagmaker rehearses a speech about how he first began to make his extravagant versions of the Canadian flag. His speech details a picaresque adventure across Canada that ends in Brandon, where he narrates his story from inside his studio overlooking the train yards and the Assiniboine River.
The audio adaptation was produced by Derek Gunnlaugson and Dale Lakevold. The voice of the Flagmaker is Steven Ratzlaff, and his performance was recorded by David Kattenberg.
The adaptation was produced in 2003 as part of an audio installation at the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba in Brandon. The character’s fictional studio was created inside the gallery by Shandra MacNeill with the assistance of Grant Curle.
The installation consisted of two parts: the audio recording of the text and the creation of the character’s studio in the gallery, within which the audio played on a continuous loop. The installation thus became both a theatre space and a stage for the performance of a radio drama. The audience occupied the “imaginary space” of the play and experienced an immersion into the Flagmaker’s melodramatic crucible–the interior space of his mind and a darkened, womb-like environment of sound and object. As Marshall McLuhan reminds us, “Radio returns us to the dark of the mind, to the invasions from Mars and Orson Welles, it mechanizes the well of loneliness that is acoustic space.”