Zoo Venues

Seth Ewin and Gareth K Vile get involved with an award-winning venue

Feature by Gareth K Vile | 04 Aug 2009

Zoo venues will be an ideal place to escape to during the Fringe if the zombie apocalypse were to begin. “Zoo is the best of all venues due to the dance productions. Dancers are extremely useful due to their increased stamina, and their very tight clothing means that bites are easy to spot, so you know if they've been infected,” said Dr Dale, expert on all things zombie.

Dr Dale and his fellow academics from The School of Survival will be delivering their seminar How To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse every day at 7.45pm. Zoo Southside, an old church, could possibly become a panic zone in the apocalypse, attracting too many people looking for sanctuary. That it is now a venue will be an advantage, however, said Dr Dale. “Performance venues are highly sought after as survival spaces, because of their lack of windows, limited access and supply of tubs of ice cream with wooden spoons (that can be whittled down to make very small spears).”

Dr Dale is not the only one drawn to Zoo. Tangram Theatre have found the place ideal for their claustrophobic thriller Art House: “A space that could give us a real sense of four walls, of a man made cage,” as director Daniel Goodman describes it. Art House has been devised by Tangram with playwright Rachael Coopes over five years, with Rachael coming across from Australia specially to work with the cast.

Also from Australia, Melbourne-based Outcast will be performing a Steven Dawson play at the Fringe after the success of his Butt Boy And Tigger last year. While Butt Boy involved dialogue across the internet, this year's Jane Austen’s Guide To Pornography will involve dialogue across the centuries, as a smutty present-day writer exchanges ideas on plots, characters and sex with Austen. Dawson said they chose the Zoo Southside because they "are going very intimate, and the Zoo studio seems perfect”.

For dance, Zoo remains a prime mover. Glasgow's Natasha Gilmore joins the acrobatic 2faced Dance and the politics of Tilted's Trapped in a line-up that spans contemporary, ballet and jazz. In One Up One Down, Natasha takes on consumerism, as three women struggle to reconcile flawless beauty and professional success. “It’s about the constraints that we all feel - about the moulds that we are trying to squeeze into that we can’t always fulfil,” Gilmore explains. Through series of pointed questions, she challenges the promises of materialism. “Even simple things like - are you able to stay in the house and look after the kids and be sexy? What pressure does it put on you to do it all?

“There is still humour and references to popular culture,” she adds. “These women being forced into these places just look funny.” The seriousness is sweetened by wit and by Gilmore’s fusion of styles. Where she has dealt in the past with the personal, she now observes the political dimension.

An even more political take comes from Maresa von Stockert's Trapped. "I am amazed by the amount of CCTV in the UK. Often we are not even aware that we are being watched," she says. This encouraged her to compare our society to the former East Germany, all set to a driving Motorik score. "Trapped is not literally about the GDR: set in an imaginary state, it tells fictional stories of five characters," she says. Yet it is inspired by the GDR's surveillance. "Germany after the war can by no means be compared with the UK today. The surveillance in the UK is meant to be completely different to that in the GDR – but is it always? Trapped is full of dark humour as well being thought-provoking," she concludes, "tragicomedy alongside charged drama; people’s stories told through spoken text merged with dance." A programme of dance, drama, pornography and politics. Just don't feed the zombies.