Tom Tabori discovers all the world’s a stage for students who enjoy the spotlight
With the sheer range of different clubs at university you could be forgiven for setting your watch by them, but there is still plenty more to be had just beyond your reach.
One man waiting for your call is Tawona Sitholé, whose urban poetry happening Seeds of Thought occurs every two months at the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA), in Glasgow. These events get packed with all manner of performance artist, who use this lyricist lounge and its up-for-it crowd to test spoken word and song. Tawona and his brother Earnest marry the diverse ingredients of their Zimbabwean-flavoured variety show by punctuating the poetry with the drumming of the Mbira, whose beat can be felt behind the poets, even after it stops and they break the silence.
Theatre makers, your stage is set at The Arches' Scratch Night (www.thearches.co.uk), a forum for emergent and established artists to try out ten-minute new ideas in front of a relaxed (often anarchic) audience. Jackie Wiley set up the Scratch Night before she ruled The Arches' roost, and it is likely to set the tone of her new order. The ideas can shine in this short run-time, and though the billing is of a particularly high calibre, the format is such that a powerful idea, well pitched, has a good chance of getting Jackie's approval.
If the Traverse Theatre (www.traverse.co.uk/new_writing.html) seems less geared towards students than the currency of raw ideas dealt in by The Arches' Scratch Nights, then it is only because the Traverse markets itself to a different audience, not because the arsenal of opportunities it affords playwrights does not belong to you. These resources too often go untapped by those who need them and deserve them (you), so do not leave them to those whose mummy whipped them into theatrical shape from the age of four.
Nothing removes the safety catch on how you go about your art more than Edinburgh's Dance Base (www.dancebase.co.uk). With over 130 classes every week, from Contemporary to Breakdancing, all in the award winning studios of Scotland's National Centre for Dance, here is somewhere you can properly up your speed.
Filmmakers, look no further than The Magic Lantern (www.themagiclantern.org), another creative opportunity housed by the CCA, something of a big tent for connecting communities and artists. Magic Lantern fight the corner for short film (less than 30 minutes), which they stand up for in its own right, rather than as a prelude to feature film. The smaller budget required also brings it within the reach of student filmmakers, as does Magic Lantern's call for work that ‘questions the boundaries between narrative-based and more experimental filmmaking’, a statement which could have been written for you and the films of your Odyssean journey from the student union to the CCA.
As creative, and more opportunistic, than all of the above is renting an allotment). Few students have access to land, but most students already share space and food with people, so for an annual £25 student rate and the price of some seeds here is a cheap way to source your fruit and veg, whilst getting a peasant’s physique and meditative replenishment. Most of all, you get the same creative buzz as in the Scratch Nights, Magic Lantern and Seeds of Thought, but with the added benefit of being able to taste test and not rely on feedback. Who knows: you might even have such a bumper crop of runner beans that your tuition fees are covered and everyone in your halls is sorted.