Notes from the Fringe
– a series of blog posts from SHP’s CEO, Ron McAllister –
Day 4 – Tuesday 23rd August: Reaching out to aliens
Would you believe it – not one but two of the shows I saw today took, as their starting point, the 1977 Voyager missions into outer space…. out of 2,500 shows what are the chances?!
The first of these was “World Without Us” which opened with recordings of messages from 55 countries of the world which were sent by way of greeting, on the USA’s Voyager missions, to other civilisations in outer space.
However, in “World Without Us” this was only used as a device to illustrate how optimistic we were in 1977 that, as a civilisation, we would last forever. This show’s real purpose was to examine what would happen to the world if mankind ceased to exist with immediate effect. It was a bleak and stark piece which was performed mainly in darkness (or just a hint of light) which did nonetheless create strong word pictures to describe the world’s changing landscape without man.
The second piece – Third Angel’s “600 people” made more direct reference to the Voyager missions as it explored man’s need to reach out to aliens. This was a well researched Astrophysics lecture basically, delivered with good use of the dramatic pause! So what is the likelihood of there being life as we know it out there in some distant galaxy? Well as it turns out, almost nil, I’m afraid. Sorry, Star Trek fans!
The most important piece of theatre that I have seen at this year’s festival came from the Flemish company Bronks. It is called simply “Us/Them”. A whole school is held hostage in their gymnasium while terrorists use the children as a bargaining tool, ironically, in their attempt to negotiate freedom and peace. The tale is told from the children’s perspective by two outstanding performers with charm and a lightness of touch which makes the final outcome all the more moving and shocking.
I need to bring this experience to SHP. I need to share this experience with you. This is why I come to Edinburgh year after year. My passion for theatre and for SHP is such that I will not rest until I achieve that.
Later, in the afternoon between shows, I met with Navi Fong from Fiji – a choreographer and member of the British Council’s ambassador scheme. We talked about international collaboration through live streaming. A useful meeting – and also fascinating to hear what it is like to create work in Fiji, (not easy) whose population is about the same as Glasgow’s!
The night was rounded off with a piece of political theatre from NYC and a catch up with my daughter ( who had been checking out some comedy shows on my behalf today). I also caught up with colleagues from all over the uk (and from festivals across 3 continents) – lots of festival highlights were shared and discussed. Some time after midnight it started to rain (quite heavily) and so, reluctantly, we called it a day and scampered to find taxis to get back to our digs in various parts of the city!
Tomorrow will be my last blog of the festival – see you then!