Space for Art

Another venue expanding into new territory

Feature by Nick Manderson | 16 Aug 2011

"The growth of the arts is in the face of current economy," says Charles Pamment. As one of the venues that have expanded in the past few years, theSpace is a symbol of this surprising health. "Theatre at the Fringe is fighting back," he adds. And we have always had a good reputation for having a high-end bunch of engineers." The plethora of Spaces in the centre of the Fringe is a natural, even inevitable consequence.

Pamment is especially passionate about the elegant Space at Surgeons Hall, and the new dedicated cabaret venue on North Bridge. "Cabaret is the hidden gem of the festivals," he says. "And SpaceCabaret is a proper cabaret space, where you can get a drink as the performance is happening."

The big cabaret star of their programme is Dusty Limits: the dark prince. A fixture at the Bongo Club as compere, his solo shows are where he excels, holding his audience gently while leading them into dark, Weimar-influenced territory. Adding Tricity Vogue - another London neo-cabaret star who frightens and entertains in equal measure with her Blue Lady - The Sundaes and Muse Chanteuse makes SpaceCabaret a hub for the challenging acts that have invigorated variety.

Muse Chanteuse is an act that could only exist in a healthy cabaret environment. Owl Chris Taylor (pianist and composer) and his Pussycat, Lisa Byrnes (operatic singer-songwriter) set sail on a sea of romance creating a new genre: Opera Cabaret. Over an hour, the personality of the two performers is given the chance to develop and tackle tougher subjects.

Their original songs are an enchanting fusion of opera, jazz piano, wit and seriousness that conjure dream-like landscapes and fantasies of romance. Opera director David Letch praised Byrnes as a “rare singer who can deliver Eartha Kitt as well as Mozart and has the performance instinct of an actor.”

As for dance, there is an emphasis on serious themes, from Jean-Paul Sartre's notion of "the other" through love as insanity and the tale of a man who could only love a woman who loves a certain flower.

Amaryllis, by Svjdance, brings together choreography by Sarah Vaughan-Jones and visuals by conceptual artist George Horne to immerse the audience in the hero's idiosyncratic desires.

Amaryllis'  innovative duet of dance and media - directed by Sarah Vaughan-Jones - explores different perceptions of individual curiosity in the structural and meaningful potential of a space.

Two pieces also showing at theSpace, The Problem of the Other and State of Mind, take their audience on a tour of the psychological, too.

The Problem of the Other, brought to Edinburgh by Symposium Productions  is a vibrant piece of physical theatre that draws on Sartre's theory of "the other"; molding dance and live sound. Z Theatre Company's State of Mind explores Einstein's thinking on the route to lunacy. Stretching the limits of mentality delving into insecurity, betrayal and infatuation.

theSpace offers more than just a place to stage a performance, it is creating venues that are a pleasure for both performer and audience. The key ethos, as Pamment suugests is that passion breeds passion.