I find that, when I’ve had a lull in blogging, for whatever reason, it’s hard to write that return post. There is so much to say! So much I meant to write! A useful technique, I think, is simply to provide a short, unartistic summary post of things which have been happening to wipe the slate clean, clear the baggage to enable me to write good posts again. Which is what this is.
Things I’ve been doing
I have been in something of a fallow creative period — not barren, but just lying fallow, regaining my fertility, taking my time — instead spending my time contributing to wider projects. But, to disgustingly mix metaphors, I’m emerging from the cocoon, new shoots are showing, something’s brewing. I see myself starting some new performance and creative projects soon.
But I have been helping make an exciting and wide-ranging project happen at the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens: it’s called The Secret Grove, and it has involved taking over an often-forgotten section of the gardens, just behind the glasshouses, and turning it into a space for exploration and imagination, with an ecological twist. Our space has been filled with art installations, we have hand-built wooden yurts housing multiple creative and environmental workshops daily, and each day there are interactive performances embedded in trees, on lawns, and on benches around the space. You can turn up there any time during the day and something exciting — and sometimes chaotic! — will be happening.
I’ve also been working for the Edinburgh International Science Festival, training their street performers. Throughout the festivals this August, there will be street scientists with Christiania Bikes packed full of experiments for the public. They’re big, loud, smelly and fascinating; I’m proud of the work we’ve been doing together developing the show, and I think they’re a great piece of accessible and entertaining science communication. It’s been useful for me to hone my professional workshop skills as it becomes more and more clear that the way to survive as a performer and theatre artist is to get paid to run a lot of workshops. I’m gonna need to professionalise this site a wee bit more.
What else? I’ve had the occasional poetry gig, done odd little performances here and there, kept things smouldering. Read a lot, rediscovered comics, felt sometimes sad and sometimes astonished by the world. I’ve been doing what’s in front of me.
Things that are happening soon
First up, I’m doing a full set at Express Excess in Camden next Wednesday 18th, details coming soon to my poetry site. I’ll probably be hitting up the ever-brilliant and constantly-growing Chill Pill the night before. I have brewing to start a new free Open Mic and Read-Easy season in Edinburgh as well, now that I’m here for the long run, so stay tuned.
Climate Camp is coming to the city on the 19th as well, of course, so that’s going to be consuming a lot of my time. I’ll be performing there, but also practising my facilitation my helping run massive consensus decision-making meetings: always exhausting, but often thrilling, the sense of genuinely discovering anew what true democracy can be. I’m reading David Graeber’s Direct Action: An Ethnography at the moment, and it’s helping whet my appetite.
Come September, it’ll be time to get a large-scale theatre project of my own happening again. Happily, there’re a few things brewing. I’m talking with an old collaborator about developing plans for internet site-specific cybertheatre — intimate and surprising theatre performed in cyberspace — and I’ve plans to build on Open Source Theatre‘s cycle of work on property and capital, including the long-awaited debt project.
Meanwhile, what have I been thinking about? The purpose of theatre, of my life in performance, I suppose. (O delicious privilege!) At the moment Forest Fringe, the best place to be at the Edinburgh Festivals, is helping me with that a lot. Genuinely experimental performance, days of interaction and experience, so many opportunities to grow and think about art together with people who are committed, sincere and fun. I’m hoping to be writing more about that soon, keep my mind working, keep communicating.