Kieran Hurley: 'One of the most radical responses to the way the world is right now is to insist upon our shared humanity'
- Deborah Chu
- 28 November 2019
With Disaster Plan's Move~Gluasad about to premiere, we speak to Hurley and Julia Taudevin to find out more about the multi-story performance
It's a marriage of true minds, and a professional collaboration that's sustained theatre-makers Kieran Hurley and Julia Taudevin over the past decade. And so when the pair launched their theatre company Disaster Plan last September, it was merely giving a name to a partnership – in both life and work – that has already been built upon a decade-long bedrock of trust, creative effort and shared values.
'It's also a commitment to making work that's light on its feet, radical and accessible,' says Taudevin, 'to continuing in the nature of the way we make work.'
'Yeah, exactly,' agrees Hurley. 'It's a shared set of priorities around the type of work we both want to make.'
Both have amassed an impressive list of accomplishments under their own names, but run through their CVs and it's likely that the other will have played a role, whether it's Taudevin's co-directorship of Hurley's Heads Up and Beats, or Hurley's hand in the development of Taudevin's Blow Off. But why Disaster Plan, and why now? 'It's kind of funny as a name, isn't it, sort of implying that the whole thing could be a disaster of a plan,' says Hurley, leaning back in his seat. 'But also – this is the bit that's more earnest – it feels like we're making work in dark, difficult times, for an uncertain future. That's how we're living our lives, and so that's the time that we're making work for. There's something about the phrase that implies to us a kind of readiness to look at the crisis in the eye and respond to it.'
They've found that response in their first Disaster Plan production, Move~Gluasad, which will premiere on the Isle of Lewis as part of An Lanntair's Winter in the Wild Campaign. Formed around the Gaelic keening ritual, Move~Gluasad is centred upon the stories of five women and their experiences of migration across time and space, from historical exoduses to the contemporary migration crisis.
'It's trying to be as multicultural and international as possible, while at the same time recognising that we are very much in Scotland and that I am a white, Scottish artist,' says Taudevin, who is the show's lead artist and writer. 'With the keening, it was a ritual to begin processing the trauma of bereavement, and we live in this age where we don't really have any socially-structured outlets for grief. But something else the ritual did traditionally was that people would come and grieve even if they didn't know the person. It was an act, but there was also [this sense of], "I don't know this person, but I can still grieve." There's this shared kinship that – with the rise of fascism and homophobia and all that – we just don't have now.'
'One of the most radical responses to the way the world is right now is to insist upon our shared humanity,' says Hurley. 'And so one of the things that the show is insisting on is engaging with loss and migration, on a global level, and on the level of the grief that we really should and must feel for those losses.'
Rooting work in an ethos of 'here-ness' as well as an internationalist outlook is vital to Hurley and Taudevin, and thus was part of the appeal of the Winter in the Wild campaign, which will also feature the likes of Alan Bisset, Mairi Campbell and Karine Polwart. 'There's clearly a huge statement of intent about populating a programme with some of the best and most interesting artists working in Scotland,' says Hurley. 'I think it's got a really great balance between some of these big names, but also a fierce localism in terms of some of the subject matter of what's being pursued.'
There's similarly a sense of community and homecoming to Move~Gluasad's upcoming Lewis tour as well, particularly for Taudevin, whose family is from Lewis. They're excited by the chance to perform in community halls rather than more traditional theatres at first, to foster a space for connection in these fraught times and eschew any sense of 'preciousness' that can occur when there's a stage separating performers and audience. They reminisce fondly on a performance of Rantin that they staged in Tongue Village Hall, wherein audience members came up and gave them a hug after the performance.
'And then we went to the pub!' says Taudevin, aglow with the memory. 'I would love to find a way to create a space where we can do that, where we can talk.'
'We want the hugs!' exclaims Hurley. 'Depending on how you feel about the show. Physically express to us what you thought about the show. In hugs.'
Move~Gluasad, An Lanntair, Stornoway, Mon 27–Fri 31 Jan.