Rose and Bones: Spirit and Stones
Glasgow’s Tramway has always been a venue that dares to be different. So it stands to reason that its in-house artists’ collective takes a unique approach to integrated work. Co-ordinated by Rachel Clive, the Theatre Arts Group is a coming together of artists with and without learning disabilities, working across a range of artforms. About to present its fourth production, Rose and Bones: Spirit and Stones, the group is committed to being as egalitarian as possible.
‘Everybody owns the work’ says Clive. ‘Over the years we’ve found that often, the minute somebody with learning disabilities is involved, there’s a sense that you can’t do anything interesting or explore ground that could be seen as dangerous. But we dare to explore artistically whatever people want to – we’re open to each other and what we can all do.’
The collective has 15 members, nine of whom will appear in the new show. Featuring live music, visual art, film and performance, Rose and Bones is based on an old folk tale about sibling rivalry, during which a murder is revealed in a most unusual way. ‘One of the members of the group shared the story with us,’ explains Clive, ‘and in it, the truth comes out through the murder victims’ bones, which are turned into a musical instrument. We did some research and discovered that this folk tale exists in practically every culture across the world in one way or another. So we’ve made the story our own and interpreted it in different ways.’
Using footage shot inside Tramway and on a nearby building site, original music performed on a range of instruments including piano, fiddle and double bass, plus an element of choral singing, Rose and Bones clearly takes the original tale in a number of interesting directions. ‘The story is very important and is the reference point we’re all working within,’ says Clive. ‘But actually, the piece is more an exploration of what’s going on beneath the story, which is about human connection and disconnection. It’s dark, but it’s also tender.’