Harry Josephine Giles is from Orkney, Scotland, and is a writer and performer. They have lived on four islands, each larger than the last. They trained in Theatre Directing (MA, East 15 Acting School, 2010) and Sustainable Development (MA, University of St Andrews, 2009) and their work generally happens in the crunchy places where performance and politics get muddled up.
As a performer, Harry Josephine has been featured in the SPILL National Platform, and programmed by festivals and venues including the Ovalhouse, Forest Fringe and Sprint. Their performance lecture This is not a riot toured to Italy in 2012, and their one-to-one show What We Owe has toured European festivals 2013-17, including in Slovenia, Latvia and Romania. What We Owe was also listed in the Guardian’s “Best of the Edinburgh Fringe” 2014 round-up — in the “But is it art?” section. They also do vocals in the punk band Fit To Work. Their current touring show is Drone, a poetry, video and sound show about technology, gender and anxiety, and is part of the 2019 Made in Scotland showcase at the Edinburgh Fringe.
As a poet, Harry Josephine has toured North America, given feature performances at venues from the Bowery Poetry Club to the Soho Theatre; hosted events at festivals from StAnza to Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, won multiple slams including the UK Student Slam (2008), the BBC Scotland Slam (2009), the Glasgow Slam (2010); and been published in journals including Magma, Gutter, PANK, Irish Pages, and New Writing Scotland. They won the IdeasTap National Poetry Competition in 2012, and their first collection Tonguit (Freight Books) was shortlisted for both the Edward Morgan Poetry Award (2014) and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection (2016). Their most recent publication is The Games (Outspoken Press, 2018). Other publications include the pamphlet Oam for Govanhill Baths (Stewed Rhubarb), a box of postcards for the Crichton Carbon Centre (Farmform, 2014), a map of games for the Nevis Land Partnership (Casual Games for Casual Hikers, 2015), and a collaborative neural network rewriting border ballads for the Common Guild (New Minstrelsy, 2018). Harry Josephine is currently undetaking a PhD at te Universty of Stirling in Creative Writing, with a focus on minority language poetry.
As a game-maker, Harry Josephine has designed games for Now Play This, Book Week Scotland, Winchester City Council, the BBC, and more. Their game The Chinese Room, co-written with Joey Jones, came 5th in the 2007 international Interactive Fiction Competition, and their twine game Raik was featured in PC World, Rock Paper Shotgun and IndieGames.com.
Often the theatre, poetry and games get muddle together into hybrid forms.
Harry Josephine has developed and delivered workshops for organisations including Keats House, People & Planet, and the Edinburgh International Science Festival. They were artist-in-residence for Govanhill Baths in 2013, the Crichton Carbon Centre in 2013-14 and the Nevis Land Partnership in 2016,
In Edinburgh, Harry Josephine founded Inky Fingers, a spoken word events organisation, co-directs the nationally-funded quarterly performance art platform ANATOMY at Summerhall, and has been part of the collective behind the Forest Café, Edinburgh’s open access arts space.
You can read their full professional credits here.
My work is about what it feels like to live under capitalism, and how to survive and resist in a violent world. I make participatory performances, including one-to-ones, installations, street sideshows, interventions and longer interactive shows in theatre spaces.
I explore the performance possibilities of internet spaces. I use social media and blogging extensively to build public discussion around each project, and my performances often take place simultaneously online and offline. I Want to Blow up the Palace of Holyroodhouse, for example, exists as research and explosions in public spaces, discussions with participants around those events, a continuing twitterstream and discussion during each event, and satirical online auto-surveillance reporting. My website is a source of performance and documentation together.
This is not a riot is a performance lecture and training session on the political history of riots and what to do if you find yourself in one. Class Act is a gameshow about class war, designed to teach class politics and incite political action. What We Owe is a debt counselling service, supporting participants to come to grips with overwhelming feelings of emotional and political obligation.
I like to occupy aesthetics stolen from systems of power: PowerPoint, lectures, spreadsheets, reports, business suits, surveillance, social media. I enjoy clowning through these regimes as critique and therapy. I like taking bankrupt aesthetics and making a good joke with them, or disrupting a lecture with a teddybearfight, or using a deathly scatterplot to ask a political question.
Making performance is a way to explore politics, performing a way to intervene. I combine participatory performance and public feeling – to feel with audiences and resist together. To me, feelings are not a soft form of politics: they are hard, edgy, scary and potent. I am trying to use disruptive action, satire and discussion to drive a wedge into political moments, opening a space for audiences to think, feel and act.