A Lot More Fun
Having read Elaine C Smith's autobiography, in which she castigated critics for being failed perfomers, I was inspired to prove her right. A few quiet shows at Flatrate's Initial Itch night- conveniently following a burlesque performer, ensuring that whatever I might say would be instantly forgettable- led to a chance to appear at this weekend's Allotment, The National Theatre of Scotland's fascinating attempt to bring together the Young Teams of Caledonian performance. In a small room in Govan Cross, various Skinny writers will create a magazine as events happen, inviting contributions from the audience and pausing only to offer discussions and monologues. With the magazine's increased focus on theatre that is abandoning the classic format of script and stage, my appearance within a performance was only a matter of time and opportunity.
Allotment has been running at Govan Cross since the end of last year, taking over a disused shop and filling it with the best and brightest of young Scottish performance. Past appearances from Rob Drummond- currently contending for the Tron's Open Write Award and Eilidh MacAskill from Fish and Game demonstrated that the NTS is supportive of this new generation: for the final installment, a massive cast and crew promise to explore the impact of modern networking technology, often from a low tech perspective. Drew Taylor brings his NY inspired poetry and Jenny Soep gets down with a art and music jam, while speed dating, phone confessions and letter writing all get the Allotment twist.
Across the night, seventeen events will take satirical and serious angles on how we interact, now that the internet has corrupted human relationships and turned us into computer addicts. Looking across the programme, it is refreshing to see how many old fashioned methods of communication have been revived, and that Govan Cross is being recreated as the exact opposite of an internet cafe.
Luckily for me, Fluid Networks have a worlshop in those all important dating skills. Rosamund Sydney explains: "This will give the tools, skills and attitude needed to find a life long partner and increase their social network. The speed dating format has allowed us to create intimate and playful encounters with unusual characters. It is also a very brief experience with each character, therefore it allows the audience to have an intense experience that will, hopefully, leave them hungry for more...!"
In the background, The Allotment Mercury will be beavering away, collating opinions, offering opinions, and looking at how new work can be supported and challenged by those short reviews that follow the shows. Traditionally, criticism has been outside of the theatre, a lone wolf howling in complaint or praise. By stepping into the arena, I am becoming a hostage to fortune, giving performers the chance to critique the critics.
Previous Allotments have combined the anarchic thrust of Live Art with the playful humour of a night out in a friendly bar. With performers in every available space, courtesy of award-winning Kai Fisher's design team, the last orders at the Govan Cross promise to entangle, delight confuse and celebrate.