Having Fun

Spent much of the day in the Traverse theatre photographing the tech rehearsals for the four Scrapyard performance pieces ahead of their evening show - a double bill of Scrapyard and Paper Doll Militia as part of the manipulate theatre festival. The Scrapyard works had each changed a little after Saturday's sharing session - the advantage of having the opportunity to share and discuss a work in progress ahead of the performance in front of a paying audience. Perhaps not surprisingly given the ephemeral nature of many of their props and costumes, the first group didn't do a full costume rehearsal, but the other three groups all managed to fit in at least one more-or-less dress rehearsal giving me the opportunity to take performance-like images.
Four very different pieces of visual theatre on a single theme. As you might expect from this sort of experimental theatre some things worked better than others. I guess it is always a difficulty with this sort of project. The participating artists need the freedom to experiment and take risks but in the very nature of risk-taking is the possibility that ideas don't always work out quite as envisaged. Creating art is always a process and the only real way to develop creative talents is to support that process rather than judging things simply in terms of 'finished' product at any particular stage in an artist's development. The dilemma is always whether to share such 'works in progress' with a wider audience, inviting criticism of the things that didn't work in performance when the process has still been a great success. In this case I'm sure all the participants have explored many new ideas, bounced numerous suggestions off each other that may well inspire future projects, organised the logistics of the show and had some experience of the working environment in one of Scotland's premier theatre spaces. Not to mention the inspirational aspect of wanting to bring a full production of their own to the Traverse in the future. It seems almost churlish to comment on the pieces themselves.
This was from the last of the tech rehearsals, although the first of the actual performances, A as in Hat. The three women pictured spent most of their time on stage laughing, observed by two others who seemed to be trying to learn how to laugh. I realise that simple description doesn't do it justice! Second on the night, although first up for the tech, was Your Life in Newsprint. Some interesting visuals, although not entirely clear what was going on all the time. Next was Bert and Flo, which was probably the most accessible narrative of the four, even if it did appear to involve a man in a relationship with a parrot that was then killed by his friends before the man began to believe he was the parrot. Some great music and choreography too. And then the final Scrapyard piece, A Piece of Cake, with some simple shadow puppetry, extensive use of flashlights and some real 'earworm' live musical accompaniment that conjured up a rather disturbed kitchen landscape. After the Scrapyarders had all returned to take their curtain call there was then the Paper Doll Militia piece that had provided the inspiration for the project - Unhinged, an amazing piece of acrobatic aerial theatre/dance. Giving the packed Traverse One audience a more polished piece to round off their evening - perhaps the best of both worlds.

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