Flatrate: Energising the Sunken Faces of Britain

the Flatrate theatre group have been entertaining Glasgow audiences with one aim: “to work harder, faster and more intelligently than any other company"out there.

Feature by Anna Fenton | 24 Feb 2010
  • Initial Itch

“Within us the contradictions of our life scream for release display themselves in fists and sunken faces and distracted heads franchise out all you should contain, to others and so doing cease to support the Status Quotient we are better than this.”

This is the manifesto that Flatrate was born out of, an angry call to arms and the opening of the floor to the portrayal of lives withheld.

Their monthly arts night, Initial Itch, at 13th Note, welcomes all performers of every discipline. According to artistic director, Stephen Redman, “Initial Itch is going from strength to strength; if there was a larger venue which fit with the aesthetic of the night we would have to consider leaving the 13th Note to allow for audience growth. There isn't though. So, we will continue to do our bit by putting on the best bloody performance night in Glasgow.”

Redman dislikes the phrase ‘in yer face’, but enjoys the vital, controversial energy of the theatre of the ‘90s, and sees a creative source in the anger and expression found in British theatre’s “punk period”. He utilises the creative freedom left on stage by Kane and Ravenhill, and attacks challenging subjects, images and acts, presenting them to audiences within the theatre framework.

Redman has grand designs for his audience; he wants a performance that “changes them a little and leaves them feeling uplifted and inspired as they walk home.” He elaborates: “ I want to make the sort of theatre that has people wake up the next day and get out of bed with a spring in their step and a desire to change the world in their head.”

Although the company is still cutting its teeth, it places itself firmly at the cutting edge, with the aspiration of finding future famous names in this radical space. And what better topic for an admirer of Sarah Kane to tackle than that of the Snuff films industry.

A couple of years ago, Redman discovered that Snuff films had been distributed in this country in the early ‘80's, with no more illegality than the regular porn on sex shop shelves throughout the UK, a fact that many people are unaware of. The culmination of this investigation is Flatrate’s latest work, The Zeros Keep Going, developed into numerous collisions between feminism and pornography. Redman challenges himself with his subject material: “I knew that if it was an area I knew little about, then there was a good chance that if we managed to discover some truth in the rehearsal room there was a good chance the show would also have an element of discovery for the audience.”

When questioned on the appropriateness of the theatre for dealing with such a controversial topic, Redman does not claim to be an expert; ‘I just know it in my gut’. With Redman’s unwavering confidence in his project, the audiences can certainly expect a bold, polemical work.

11-14th February, The Tron