Glasgow's Surge festival showcases street theatre and live arts scene
Work from companies including Conflux and Mischief La Bas
In 2010, Conflux, a new producer of street arts, physical theatre and circus, burst out of the Arches and onto the streets of Glasgow with the first ever Surge festival. A diverse array of performances, ranging from the mainstream to the decidedly leftfield, culminated in the Surge Grande Parade up the length of Buchanan Street.
Inevitably, the festival involved longstanding figures from the Scottish live arts scene, including Conflux’s artistic director Al Seed and perennial piss-takers Mischief La Bas. They’ll be involved again this year.
However, as Seed explains, while the festival intends to go on into the future, 2012 is a special year for Surge. ‘This is the festival it’s all been building towards. Conflux was set up with the intention of having a big, climax festival on the Olympic opening weekend. It’s definitely grander than the ones we’ve done before.’
In particular, the 2012 programme emphasises the two dominant strands incorporated by Surge. ‘In terms of outdoor performances and street theatre,’ says the artistic director, ‘populist, light-hearted, fun work has its place, and we have it in our festival. However, we also want to engage with making productions that are more challenging and unusual. We want to explore what’s possible in an outdoor setting.’
Top of the bill is Deviator, a major outdoor work with acclaimed Australian company PVI Collective, which runs throughout the festival. Before arriving at the Arches, where the show begins, the audience will download an app with instructions. ‘The idea is that it’s like game playing,’ Seed explains. ‘The show is using new technologies and live performance to disturb the natural rhythms and flows of parts of the city. It’s deliberately and playfully about the audience being provocateurs.’
Various venues, Glasgow, Mon 23–Sun 29 Jul