In the cold, wet January a weekend of colour warmed my frozen heart as two days of cross collaborative art, provocation and music flamed into life at the former National Theatre of Scotland (NTS) headquarters, Civic House. The ‘Just Start Here’ festival, which was the brain child of Engine Room Producer Anna Hodgart, really was about thinking big!
The two days comprised of performance (mostly BSL interpreted) which came in the form of music, theatre, a panelled discussion and some more intimate work. ‘Dinner‘ with Laurie Brown was an visceral piece of art about observing the rituals surrounding food and the role food has within our lives. I feel very lucky to have experienced this two hour meal. It felt almost meditative in its observance of food related ritual but also pleasantly social with the delightful added aspect of delicious food and great company. It reminded me of the importance that a meal (especially with family) can hold and the rushed, unceremonious way most of us eat.
We were also privy to the outcome of the ‘One Day to Play’ initiative. This paid opportunity for artists to experiment across art-forms in order to generate a brand new idea was fascinating to watch. Personally I think that devising under a time-constraint can often produce the strangest but the most honest, and raw forms of artistic expression for each individual involved. All three pieces were imaginative, movement based and very interesting (if not altogether understandable) and I do hope that Engine Room continues to offer empowering opportunities such as this. Amongst the plethora of works there was sultry and emotive music by ‘Heir of the Cursed’ unlike anything I’ve heard before (cannot wait for the album). Also, a one-on-one piece called ‘Ignorance is a Sweet Cup of Tea’ about the identity of tea and its role in Empire. It made me reflect on my own understanding of Empire and this nations foundations in the exploitation and enslavement of people.
As a young and emerging artist the weekend was an invaluable experience as I gained insight into what my National Theatre is doing for me and the artistic community around me, as well as a chance to network and talk to more experienced creatives from a multitude of backgrounds. It reminded me that NTS really is a ‘theatre without walls’. I was very shocked there were not more young people there especially at such affordable ticket prices. I could go on and on about this wonderful event but unfortunately cannot. If you’d like to know more about the artists who participated in the event check out the link below to the festivals programme and some clips of the artists who performed. Also check out this interview with Engine Room Producer Anna Hodgart.