Internal and Adrian Howells among highlights of Arches Behaviour festival
Arches artistic director Jackie Wylie talks to Steve Cramer about behaviour and its theatrical antidotes
In the era of the ASBO, more restrictions are placed on our behaviour than existed a generation ago. Our media focuses so much attention on the possibility of dangers presented by other people’s behaviour that we end up fearing others while policing our own interactions at the expense of self expression. A way through the problem is to try looking at things from the point of view of those in our culture we might normally see as marginal.
This alteration of perspective can be seen across the Arches Behaviour festival, which returns this fortnight. The festival stresses the need for people to gather together in order to dispel our preconceptions about behaviour. ‘There’s a lot about it which is intended to draw attention to human connectedness,’ explains artistic director Jackie Wylie. ‘Our behaviour is both collective and individual at the same time. I think there’s something about live performance that shows a need for liveness, that’s part of the human spirit.’
Part of the reason that our elites seek to alter our behaviour is about the need to turn us into good consumers. Wylie seems alert to this facet of our culture, and looks to the festival to address the issue. ‘There’s a human connectedness which runs deep within us, and can’t be commodified, which requires performance to bring it out. Even given we can’t escape that to the degree that we have to charge audiences to go to the events, there’s still something about being in a room with hot bodies in one space at one moment that subverts that.’
Perhaps the most notable act of this year’s festival is Ontroerend Goed’s Internal, a piece that, because of the nature of its revelations, is difficult to describe. ‘There’s a kind of one-on-one performance involved,’ says Wylie. ‘There’s a lot of conventions, personal and professional, about preserving the audience from certain things. Internal subverts that. People have gone into that show as a couple and come out broken – it’s very challenging.’
As well as the usual Arches Brick awards – two commissions from among highlights of last year’s Fringe, there’s Platform 18, a new version of the earlier Arches Awards for stage directors. But the diversity of the acts, as Wylie comments, is its strength. ‘Some of this work, like Susan and Darren, sees the artists telling their own stories in their own way. There’s a lot of participation from audiences in this one, but once again, that’s more about the artists than the performers. Then there’s Adrian Howells’ Won’t Somebody Dance with Me? where you’re invited to dance with him, and there’s a lot in there about tenderness. That goes back to that idea of being in the space with someone – a lot of the work this year touches on the idea of small encounters in which people show tenderness to each other. On the other hand, you might go to see Faust, which isn’t so tender, it’s more a kind of punk rock barrage. But once again, that emphasises behaviour and what interpretation we choose to place on people’s behaviour – the whole thing’s about that.’
Behaviour, Arches, Glasgow, Tue 11–Sat 5 May.