FringeReview Scotland 2014
This was an evening of challenging thinking presented as the symposium to open new imaginative flights of fancy on theatre in a flight path filled with exquisite dining.
The Royal Conservatoire’s Contemporary Performance Practice degree has been ongoing for some time now. Having it showcased has also been something of a historical event and thankfully it no longer needs to be a hysterical one in order to gain attention. The practitioners who put their name to the three days of work are as highly impressive as they are fascinating and this was the launch with a bit of performance thrown in.
We began with an introduction that was swiftly set aside for the initial thought provoking commentary from Tim Etchells. This was designed to begin the thought process and I found myself listening intently to the video on screen though the balloon in the way did annoy me. Etchell’s work has been an inspiration to many artists who have lived on the edge of effective theatre so the crowd were there to learn as well as listen. It was unfortunate he was not there in person but his contribution was followed by some great stuff that illuminated his points whilst asking the same question repeatedly.
The star of the night with her ukulele was Eilidh McAskill who gave us lightness, deftness of touch and a humorous reimagining of imagination – and a little audience participation. The levity with which she brought attention to the plight of being an artist was just what the evening needed as this type of performance can often fall foul of the criticism that it takes itself far too seriously. If McAskill was the star of the night then the rest simply twinkled alongside as there was nothing in the evening that dipped or let the side down. In all aspects there was work – from Israel that was just great to hear and to then see, from what looked like Kelvingrove Park where adult and child funnelled the inner squirrel and poetry, dog impressions, a fantastic and imaginative mockery of a project thatw as all visual aids and laughs with thoughtful insight that left you fully conversant in what this little festival was all about.
I have to admit to feeling a tad over dressed in my costume of shirt and tie and more than a little old as the room was filled with enthusiastic students. They got their opportunity to host tables but the conversation and discussion at mine was a little stilted. The duties of our host then was to be involved in a short performance piece where each table host stood up, one after the other and gave a rendition of work about imagination that felt deeply personal to them but nevertheless part of the whole.
The structure of the evening was therefore only less than even when it was turned to the audience to participate. I have to say that my experience was perhaps unique and others managed to talk the night away.
What it did mean to me was that I had two days filled with other nonsense that meant I wasn’t able to follow up on the opening and see some of the shows on offer at the Arches. I have, however, noted in my diary that January can be illuminated by the Into the New Festival from RCS and for a fiver – YUP A FIVER – you can get some more than decent fare on offer!