As ever, this September’s Arches Live! festival has far too many acts to catalogue here. So too, there’s a great variety of approaches and forms to experience, but artistic director Jackie Wylie points us in the direction of some of the emerging threads.
‘The thing about this year in particular is that there’s an engagement with the world that is coming through non-traditional theatre makers,’ she says. ‘It’s coming from people from such areas as performance art. Every year with this programme we’ve pushed the boundaries a little more, and I wonder if that’s about consolidating a new identity, which is about risk-taking and bravery. Some of the performance makers are about finding a new type of politics.’
At least part of this year’s festival seems to be about blurring the distinctions between performers and audiences. This is most strikingly exemplified by David Overend’s project, Midland Street, as Wylie points out: ‘The piece starts on Midland Street outside the Arches, at the queue for Death Disco. It’s going to be impossible to tell what’s the queue, what’s Midland Street and what’s the piece of theatre – the performance carries on in the club itself. It’s difficult sometimes to get the clubbers into the theatre, so here the theatre will be coming to the clubbers.’
A similar audience-driven approach can be seen in Peter McMaster’s House: ‘The audience go into the room, and it’s set up like a home, but a kind of junkyard home,’ says Wylie. ‘The audience is invited to smash the place up, and then rebuild something around the idea of hope. It’s a lovely way of making the audience a part of the creative process, and also asking them to make a gesture based on hope by the end.’
Personal politics are also to the fore in autobiographical work Kate Baird’s Is it Because …? and Lucy Gaizely’s Eggshell’s Sweetheart. ‘This is about artists looking at themselves in order to understand the world around them. It’s almost like a game of how much you can reveal about yourself in order to help the audience learn new things about their own selves. Looking at the individual might be a bit more democratic and fun.’
Arches, Glasgow, Thu 17–Sat 26 Sep