This blog post is a little late to say the least…..
However I started it in September, and may as well begin with that.
Wow, what a busy month. I have now slept and ate appropriately for 5 days (this was written in September!) and can actually begin to appreciate what a tremendous experience that has just been. That being the Edinburgh Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival. And I was lucky enough to be in the thick of it, working for The Place, London’s contemporary dance theatre and school, to help on the ground with their 3 productions and installation. I also helped with their marketing and social media. The installation was based at Greyfriars Kirk, and was by the one and only Rosemary Lee (couldn’t believe my luck – she is literally my idol).
And the pieces were by James Cousins, Luca Silvistrini aka Protein Dance and Avante Garde Dance Theatre, Tony Adigun. James Cousins and Protein Dance were at Summerhall, a great place to spend the festival with all of it’s brilliant programming and social areas, and Tony Adigun’s piece was at ZOO Venues.
Protein Dance shared Border Tales. This show was accessible to all audiences and appropriate to those not just interested in contemporary dance, but theatre and live music also. The dialogue shared honest experience of the dancer’s, all of different nationalities, transition into British culture and society. The piece had been developed 4 years ago, however has since been refined in light with recent political changes and situations, in particular, Brexit.
James Cousins shared Rosalind, based on Shakespears ‘As you like it’. Rosalind takes on gender changing roles throughout the piece, and the dancers turn, flip, connect and transform into and with one another. There was a giant 3 metre by 3 metre cube in the middle of the already small space, and the dancers moved seamlessly in and around it, and one another. The piece was transfixing; completely and utterly absorbing.
And on the last week, Avante Garde Dance presented a Contemporary Hip Hop version of Oliver, Fagin’s Twist. The piece was utterly encompassing, engaging and accessible. A real combination of dance and theatre, expressing a well known tale through a different light. The dancers performed with perfection, and ease, despite the energetic demands of the show.
Rosemary Lee’s installation was filmed at a cathedral of trees, in Milton Keynes, and captured the beauty and essence of being in such a place. The participants were community and professional dancers and ranged from 6 all the way to 60+. It was a mesmerising piece, a film triptych. And it was a great escape and a moment’s of calm from all the goings on of the Fringe. View an excerpt of ‘Liquid Gold is the Air’ here.
Not only was I lucky enough to be working with such renowned works and companies, and to get the opportunity to learn from such great producers and teams, all working together to pull of the impossible, but I also got the opportunity to represent The Place as an Award Assessor for the Total Theatre Awards.
The Total Theatre Awards are run by the British Council, and aim to recognise works of great quality and innovation happening in the Fringe. There are 5 categories; Emerging, Experimentation, Innovation and playing with Form, Circus, Dance and Physical Theatre and Theatre.
Total Theatre Awards’ “AMBITION IS TO CREATE THE CONDITIONS FOR THE UK’S INDEPENDENT THEATRE SECTOR TO BE RECOGNISED, SUSTAINABLE & TO THRIVE.
WE PURSUE THIS BY:
– Identifying, celebrating & giving visibility to exceptionally talented artists
– Providing networking & professional development activities for independent practitioners
Playing a critical role in exploring artistic excellence, evolving form & developing understanding of an ever-changing contemporary performance landscape”
As an Assessor I got the view multiple shows, from multiple forms, and critiqued them, providing reasons why the said piece should go through or not to the Shortlist, which would then be announced, and final awards presented from The Final Judges Selection.
Total Theatre Awards operate democratically, and we underwent over 30 hours of discussion to come to our final shortlist decision, including an additional 13 hour shortlisting meeting, making the final decisions. See review, with winners, here.
It was a real delight to be part of the shortlisting process, and I learnt an incredible amount from every show that I saw (which was up to 3 a day!), as well as meeting some tremendous people, and hearing what everyone thought of, believed in fighting for, and the opposite!
I also hosted an exchange; a collaboration between international and local artists to open dialogue around what they had seen. This was a brilliant opportunity for myself and others alike to meet others in the field and discuss informally our views on what we had seen, as well as learning what they themselves were up to artistically. Plus, the dinner I got to host had sushi boats! So that was exciting!
What a tremendous way to experience the Fringe. I feel like a very lucky lady!