An image of Third Angel’s Pills for Modern Living installation at Edgelands.
I find that I only really want to comment on a couple of the shows that I saw on day four and five, so I have decided to make a C-C-C-OMBO post. Followed by some very short reflections on Edgelands and Hitch.
Day the fourth
(g)host city – St. Antony’s by Kieran Hurley
(g)host city is an invisible festival without a venue. Or, rather, the city is the venue. A selection of audio pieces curated by Laura Cameron Lewis that you can download all of (7.99) or just the ones you want to do (I downloaded Kieran’s from Bandcamp for £2). St. Antony’s plays out like you’ve found a phone fallen between some rocks in Holyrood Park. As if you picked it up and listened to the first voicemail by mistake and then slowly not been able to stop. I wonder if you could put the piece on a phone just like that? Be sent the location to a lost phone. Pick it up, listen. A small piece for a big place, this is one of my favourite experiences from the fringe. Not just for Kieran’s lovely ear for the idiosyncrasies of dialogue, or the gripping unfolding of increasingly tragic messages that are fated to never reach their receiver, but because Holyrood park, and Edinburgh, is fucking beautiful place. I enjoyed a moment of being embedded rather than transported in it.
2401 Objects – Analogue
Apart from the slightly disconcerting resemblance of one of the actors to a younger Hugh Laurie, I found plenty to enjoy in Analogue’s story of ‘the world’s most famous amnesiac patient’. It felt a lot more drama-y that Lecture Notes on a Death scene, and I don’t think it always benefited from that. (I’m very easily bored of ‘actor voice’, these days). But a really affecting story, told in quite a visually strong way; I liked very much the way the screen moved and wiped away scenes, like the dropping away of memories. I wanted the piece to be smaller though. It felt too big, the sense was of the wide world of scientific enquiry, when I think it should have been closer, more ‘in the head’ of Henry. The most powerful moment was the tying of it down to our bodies – the moment you’re asked to place your hands on your head. I felt like after acknowledging the audience so much at the beginning, it was strange to move into more conventional 4th wall stuff. A really interesting piece that I think could afford to be more tied down.
Day the fifth
The Adventures of Wound Man and Shirley – Chris Goode.
Not sure where to start on this one. THERE WAS JUST TOO MUCH LOVELINESS. Chris is a master of theatrical storytelling, his gentle, open and warm manner fill the Baby Grand and a simple 3 chair set (with associated teenage paraphernalia) becomes the scene of a devastating fire, the threshold of a school’s changing rooms, the back seat of a car, the formica tables of a poor Spud-u-Like imitation. A story about a superhero and a sidekick. A story about a family divided by an empty room. A story about a shrinking trumpet. A story about young love, and running. A story about ‘feeling just like you look’. Go and see it. Don’t let me spoil any more with my clumsy words.
You Wouldn’t Know Him He Lives in Texas – Look Left Look Right and Hidden Room Theatre
Immersive! Site Specific! Interactive! Digital Technology! In Show Tweeting! Live Streamed Every Night! And yet it still managed to be endearing and uncontrived. Loved this. It wasn’t about big or deep things, probably won’t stay with me for that long afterwards, and my judgement was likely somewhat coloured by the fact that there were Pringles and free wine, but it was a brilliant piece of brightly-coloured techno-melodrama. I just made that word up. But it fits. A simple and easily identifiable story, the opportunity to ask your own questions of the characters, and, again, a relief to be out of uncomfortable chairs in darkened venues. I got to go on a Skype date with a bald Texan, waved a giant inflatable Scottish hand, ate some Haribo, and left grinning.
Day the sixth
Edgelands and Hitch.
Absolutely delighted with how this event went. Such a wealth of great minds and conversation in the room with amazing contributions from provocateurs, performers, tech people and live bloggers. Too many people to thank here (and they’re all credited elsewhere), head over to the link to find out more. I was mostly taking photos and HD video with a shiny camera for most of the day, so am sad to have not been a closer part of the conversations, but you can read the live blog (with tweets and transcripts of the conversations) over here, listen to the 4 sets of provocations here, and see all of the photos here. Videos will emerge as fast as I can edit them and upload them. Bear in mind I have about 64GB of footage and a PhD deadline on the 26th and come to a best estimate on that. Any volunteers for help with subtitling videos once there up would be very welcome. It’s not hard, and I can link you to all of the relevant in-browser tools. Each video will be around 3 minutes, comment if you’re interested in helping out.
Things to improve on: 1) make it more local. Only about 6 people from Scotland in the room. Probably should have advertised it in the Forest Cafe, etc. 2) get more people on board to help get stuff online, 3 wasn’t quite enough, 4 might do it. 3) diversity audit of contributors: 18 male, 13 female, 1 self-described disabled, 2 BME. Not good enough. Our original programming had m/f numbers pretty much equal but last minute changes made the pool of people we could get to contribute much smaller. Still, will try harder next time. 4) do it on a week day, the online conversation was a lot less than I thought it might be, and wonder if that’s because far fewer people seem to be online/on twitter on Sundays.
Hitch by Kieran Hurley
I can’t possibly have a critical opinion on this piece, and I don’t want to. Left me crying for about half an hour afterwards, and bursting into fresh tears unexpectedly for a few hours more. A simple story told in an open and incredibly engaging way, as Kieran recounts his impromptu journey hitchhiking from Scotland to Italy, for the 2009 G8 summit in L’Aquila. I’ve been to quite a few protests since my first 3 years ago, almost always on my own, so I recognised a lot of his journey. And I suppose I hadn’t realised that anyone else feels that… afraid, and hopeful, exhilarated, breathless, and by turns potent, impotent; together, and alone. I thought it was just me. And I suppose I thought somewhere that I was a bad protestor, that I didn’t care enough to not be scared. And I cried. I cried from the accidental Patti Smith gig onwards. I cried for all of the fire in us that the world constantly pours water on. I cried for the love of everyone who tries. And I think I cried so much because after watching it I didn’t feel so alone; even if I still feel all of the other things, suddenly realising I wasn’t on my own made me feel how alone I had really felt. But now it’s gone. Kieran’s piece begins with his ‘thank you’s. I’d like to add my own: thanks.
And now, today is Day the Seventh. And I am Going Home.