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Showing posts from July, 2012

The Sleepwalk Collective - Amusing Themselves To Death

Entertainment and boredom mean a lot to The Sleepwalk Collective, the Anglo-Spanish ensemble who brought one of the most beguiling experiences to the 2011 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. As The Flames Rose We Danced To The Sirens, The Sirens placed audiences into an intimate arena to become a sounding board for one woman's cry for help amidst a very private apocalypse. If that sounds bleak, Iara Solano Arana's solo performance was leavened by a brittle, deadpan humour that made light of her predicament even as she invited the audience to join her onstage. Stylistically, The Sleepwalk Collective, under the guidance of director Sammy Metcalfe, had stumbled on some after-hours mash-up of live art, stand-up and self-reflexive tragi-comedy. This year the company return with Amusements, another solo show performed by Solano and directed by Metcalfe that takes things even further. “We became fascinated with what our relationship with entertainment is, and what we want from …

Legacy – Roderick Buchanan

Scottish National Portrait Gallery until September 16th 2012 For a work that brings together the two sides of the same coin that are Irish Republicanism and Northern Irish Loyalism, the black wall that divides the two screens of Roderick Buchanan's feature-length film installation without comment is a silently knowing piece of symbolism. Commissioned in association with the Imperial War Museum, Buchanan's piece charts two Glasgow flute bands' participation in two ideologically opposed marches. While the Black Skull Corps of Fife and Drum travel to Londonderry to celebrate the 320th anniversary of the lifting of the lifting of the siege of the city, the Parkhead Republican Flute Band commemorate the Easter Rising in Derry during 2010. With no narration, and with the sound wilfully flitting between each film a la censored UK news bulletins of the 1980s, at first glance here are a pair of community away-day rituals. With the screenings flanked on all sides by p…

Festival Promenade - Edinburgh Art Festival Hits the Streets

'I'm checking them out
I'm checking them out
I got it figured out
I got it figured out
There's good points and bad points
Find a city
Find myself a city to live in.'
David Byrne / Talking Heads - Cities
If Edinburgh's town planners had had their way in the 1960s, the city would have been cut in half by a flyover that would have run the length of The Meadows and across Calton Hill, razing many of the Georgian Streets in their wake. Just as such a shock-of-the-new attempt at social engineering was being kicked into the metaphorical long grass where it belonged, artistically speaking, Edinburgh was in the midst of a more beneficial form of turmoil.
Art was breaking out of the galleries, onto the streets and into the pubs of Rose Street, then a bohemian enclave populated by poets and painters, or the old Laigh Bakehouse on Hanover Street, where plots were hatched and schemes dreamed. As provocateurs like Jeff Nuttall, co-founder of The People Show, the UK's first e…

Ritualised Frequencies

Church of the Sacred Heart, Edinburgh
Saturday July 21st 2012 Madonna may have been getting sacred and profane with what was by all accounts a limp Like A Prayer routine over at Murrayfield, but it took Saturday night in a Jesuit chapel hall to really come together. The occasion was 16mm film divas Screen Banditas latest cross-art 'adventure in real film', as they put it for this exposition of rituals both ancient and modern by way of live soundtracks to crucial ethnographic anthropological archive footage. Artist Ariadne Xenou sets a striking tone with a brief introduction that puts the stress on ritual as a liminal experience, in which social orders and conventions are upended, but most people are sitting on the floor by this time anyway, only standing during the interval to form an orderly queue to witness Xenou's striking installation in a tiny ante-room. Before that, the depiction of native New Zealanders in 'Maori Days' is underscored by a duo of…

The People Show 121 - The Detective Show

Rumours of The People Show's death have been exaggerated. The UK's veteran experimental live-art troupe's last appearance in Edinburgh may have been with People Show 114: The Obituary Show, but, as the arrival in town of People Show 121: The Detective Show, should prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, the company who have helped to define 1960s counter-cultural frolics for the best part of fifty years are very much alive and kicking. Even better, The Detective Show finds the company getting back to The People Show's original make-shift roots which a million and one similarly inclined latter-day ensembles are similarly tapping in to. “We wanted to get back to doing a show in the way that we did when we first started out,” says Mark Long, who has been with The People Show since the start. “We didn't get into a theatre for eight years, and travelling round we had to be able to get everything for the show in a couple of suitcases which you could carry onto a …

Blurt - Puppeteers of the World Unite

When Ted Milton was invited to play Optimo, Glasgow's uber-hip Sunday night left-field club night, with his band, Blurt, he didn't know what to expect.“We'd done the sound-check,” says Milton in his south London home, “and we walked out of the pub, and there was this long long queue outside, and I thought, we're going to die a death. This is a club night, and we're really going to bomb.”As it turned out, Milton's manic bark and relentless saxophone honking powered by his trio's angular guitar and drums had many of Optimo's cool people wigging out on the Sub Club's packed dancefloor.“It was great,” cackles Milton, “even though we could only do thirty minutes with no encore, and even though it was a very dangerous place to play. There was a piece of metal holding the amps up on one side of the stage. It reminded me of the time we played the Mudd Club in New York. The same sort of thing happened. We went off and the crowd were all cheering, then this …

Bill Paterson - And No More Shall We Part

Age becomes Bill Paterson. There's always been a calm sense of authority behind everything the Glasgow-born actor has done, ever since he arrived onstage in the 1970s in The Great Northern Welly Boot Show and The Cheviot, The Stag and the Black, Black Oil. These great popular works not only redefined contemporary theatre in Scotland, but introduced Paterson's dulcet tones to a world beyond the Citizens Theatre where his career had begun. Forty years on, the sixty-seven year old is preparing for his first stage appearance in two years in And No More Shall We Part, Tom Holloway's moving play about an elderly couple coming to terms with their own mortality. Hampstead Theatre's production is being brought to the Traverse Theatre as part of its Edinburgh Festival Fringe season following an off-radar try-out run on home turf, where it proved to be a very quiet success story. “They're a very loving couple,” Paterson says of his character, Don, and Pam, play…

Infinite Jest

Dundee Contemporary Arts until August 26th 20124 starsWith a title taken from David Foster Wallace’s footnote-friendly novel, going round in circles is the preserve of all three artists in DCA’s fun-packed summer special of a show. Where the videos of Brazilian interventionist Cinthia Marcelle subvert noisy city-scapes with meticulously orchestrated real-time arrangements, Rob Pruitt is all high-class paddling pools, monster-size cookies and down-time denim. London-born William Mackrell continues the party theme with birthday cake-sized illuminations that may burn fast, but which leave a lunar-etched after-glow to bask in.There’s fire from the off via Marcelle’s video piece,’ Confronto’, setting out its store on a monitor that wilfully obstructs the gallery entrance. Onscreen, a group of fire jugglers stop the traffic, increasing in number as their routine moves from red-light entertainment to green-light environmental alchemy. Marcelle’s similarly-inclined ‘Volta ae Mondo (Round the …

Neu! Reekie! Records – Jesus, Baby! What's Goin' On?

Over the last eighteen months, Neu! Reekie!'s monthly Friday nights of what used to be called alternative entertainment has captured Edinburgh's off-piste underground in a way not seen since Rebel Inc lit-zine first broke cover in the early 1990s. Neu! Reekie!'s speak-easy pot-pourri of spoken-word performances seen in-between screenings of avant-garde animations with a live music finale also recalls the ghosts of live-art cabaret night Silencio!, which lit up Edinburgh a few years back, while its spirit dates back to the 1980s post-punk happenings of Richard Strange's recently revived Cabaret Futura nights.
Now Neu! Reekie! Ringmasters Michael Pedersen and Rebel Inc founder Kevin Williamson bring us Neu! Reekie! Records, an aural experience that spreads the night's multi-media inclinations even further. Their first release is a double A-side 7” single, with Pedersen and Williamson overseeing a side apiece. While on one side, Williamson performs the title poem from…

LeithLate

Various venues, Leith, June 28th 20124 starsOn a rare evening of summer sun, for one night only, Leith Walk itself became a little piece of live art promenade theatre it's sort of always been. From Whitespace and Superclub in Gayfield Square at the top to Henderson Halls in South Leith Parish Church at the left of the bottom, some nineteen largely bespoke venues from the Windsor Buffet to Oscar's Alterations, Leith Walk Barber's Salon and beyond played host to a cavalcade of live music and pop-up exhibitions that fused a civic and social experience with an artistic one to expand the aesthetics of community spirit in the best sense of that much overused phrase.Individual events were sometimes rough and not always ready, but in their willingness to experiment with form, content and circumstance, facilitated an explosion of noisy life that captured a sense of what's going on artistically in Leith – and indeed Edinburgh – away from the city's more august institutions a…

Rachel O'Riodan - Perth Theatre's 2012/13 Season

There’s a window built into the roof of Perth Theatre’s brightly lit bar that won't open. This bothers Rachel O’Riordan, and has done so ever since the Irish-born creative director for theatre at Horsecross Arts first arrived in Perth to breathe fresh life into one of Scotland’s most important rep institutions a year ago. For all the energy that goes on in the building, it seems, that window retains its somewhat stifling presence. While there's little to be done about that window until the theatre's planned renovation takes place over the next three years, it hasn't prevented O'Riordan from turning the place as it currently exists upside down in an artistic sense at least. In her first season, O'Riordan's back to back productions of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Frank McGuinness' hostage drama, Someone Who'll Watch Over Me and Ron Hutchinson's Hollywood romp, Moonlight and Magnolias, stacked up to make an impressive calling card…

5 Minute Theatre

4 starsThe National Theatre of Scotland's third 5 Minute Theatre online extravaganza of bite-size plays performed largely live was focussed around the theme of youth. With some fifty-six separate performances beamed from hubs in Glenrothes, Glasgow and beyond in a myriad of classrooms, bars and living rooms, the event was run partly in parallel with this year's National Festival of Youth Theatre as well as the NTS' own young peoples' theatre programme, Exchange.The end result was a lively, non-stop five and a half-hour mix of rites of passage and a desire to be understood on the one hand, and a mourning for lost youth on the other. If technical gremlins hadn't prevented it, proceedings would have begun with Douglas Maxwell's 162 Bars Out, a lovelorn percussionist's interior monologue performed alongside Claire McKenzie's live orchestral score. Even on second, Maxwell's piece was a powerful dramatic lesson on the social and creative power of musical …

As You Like It

Botanic Gardens, Glasgow3 starsIt takes a wrestling match to make Rosalind’s heart go all aflutter over Orlando in what’s possibly Shakespeare’s most long-winded comedy. That it’s taking part in the grunt and grapple game that similarly gets Orlando’s endorphins going speaks volumes about the excitement going on in these would-be lovers young lives. Especially as the mat Orlando throws himself about in Gordon Barr’s promenade production for this year’s Bard in the Botanics season is ever so slightly soggy due to the light drizzle that briefly delayed this weekend’s opening performance.Barr goes for broke while it stays dry, moving from the opening scene in Duke Frederick’s court set beside one of the garden’s hothouses, to the Forest of Arden sheltered under a tree, to a flame-lit finale beside a sheltered pagoda. The trouble is, to get through this extended rom-com awash with rustic cross-dressing, one needs to do it with a gallop that the longeurs between locations hinder somewhat.T…

Craig Coulthard – Forest Pitch

When Craig Coulthard was growing up in Germany, he liked a kickabout as much as most other small boys. It gave the Edinburgh-based artist a sense of belonging, he reckons, helped him bond and integrate with the German kids. Rather than scrambling about in jumpers-for-goalposts childhood, however, Coulthard’s games took place in a forest, undercover of an all-encompassing blanket of trees that gave the games a more dramatic and mysterious edge.Coulthard revisited his old playground a couple of years ago while on a residency in Dusseldorf, only to find a razed and abandoned site. It was a similar story in Cathkin Park, the former home to the now defunct Third Lanark FC in Glasgow, where Coulthard played as a teenager, and where the overgrown trees lent the environment a moody air. Flying over the Borders en route home from Dusseldorf, Coulthard was similarly struck by the dense impenetrability of the tree-lined landscape below and what might just be at play beneath.All of which goes som…