Outdoor theatre festival Surge is the antidote to dour ideas of performance art

Outdoor theatre festival Surge is the antidote to dour ideas of performance art


The 2014 programme features children's games, cabaret, cavemen and 'a carnival of falling and flying'

The Surge Festival has become an essential part of Glasgow's cultural calendar – it introduced Scotland to Red Bastard and Cantabile 2 as well as supporting local artists like Ali Maloney and Alex Rigg – and is an internationally respected carnival of street performance. Curated by Conflux, who are committed to developing powerful Scottish street art, physical theatre and circus scenes, it is expanding from its usual slot in the Merchant City Festival into the Commonwealth Games jamboree.

'This is the biggest year we have done,' says director Alan Richardson. From recreations of old children's games with Scotch Hoppers, a meditation on Rilke's beautiful poem of yearning The Panther (in Captive) to an invasion by Cavemen, 2014 promises to be the most eclectic programme so far.

The influx of tourists this July did influence the curation's theme. 'The basis behind it all is non-verbal work,' says Richardson. 'It's more of a practical decision than an aesthetic one: well, an audience decision.' In line with the desire to ensure that street theatre is accessible, many of the selections bypass the need for an understanding of English language.

Richardson remains committed to finding the most exciting work. 'Street art is very varied and we are always trying to find where physical theatre meets other things … in the case of Osadia, it meets with visual art and hairdressing, while the work from Motionhouse is what you call dance-theatre.'

Ending with a weekend of cabaret – including the first appearance in Glasgow of Edinburgh's alternative vaudeville Anatomy – Surge collides with the Merchant City Festival's atmosphere and offers surprises, including the epic Perch which features 200 performers and a link up with a parallel show in Brazil. Surprising, provocative and fun: Surge is the antidote to dour ideas of performance art.

Various locations, Glasgow, Sat 19 Jul – Sun 3 Aug.