Thursday, 11 June 2009

Subterranean Shenanigans

For someone who spends most of their waking hours at the moment in front of a computer it's appalling how little time I have spent on updating this blog. I would apologise but frankly I have been unapologetically busy! Nevermind, I'm reporting back now and that's what matters.

My painfully purple world turned painfully orange for the month of May as I spent most of it underground, literally and figuratively, working on the Subway Festival -

This was quite a project because it was hellish and amazing in equal measure. Hellish from a logistical and production point of view - programming performance of all kinds, from live bands to acrobats, into the confined space of a moving subway train that is operating on a normal service is sort of like trying to catch a bee with a puppy. You need a steady hand and a lot of patience but when you succeed you get a sense of triumph and satisfaction from accomplishing something utterly bizarre and completely pointless! The best kind of arty triumph!

And amazing because it worked, it doesn't seem like it should but it did; can-can dancers and Shakespearean performance can be appreciated that little bit further when placed completely out of context.

Despite the production problems, health & safety tangles, drunken Rangers fans and the fact that an entire festival was taking place in an underground network the whole thing was a brilliant successs. Our 30 strong crew and 300 odd performers had a ball even in the face of major event duress. Well done that team, lesser mortals would have thrown up their hands and proclaimed "Done!" in the face of certain conditions.

We also managed to achieve 4-5 star reviews and sold-out shows for the theatrical programme - ProudExposure's "Sub Opera" and Martin O Connor's "Inner Circle" both garnered excellent press in both The Scotsman and The Herald. Quite an achievement for a festival in its infancy that is still trying to convince the industry of its artistic value - nice one!

The Scotsman on "Inner Circle" & "Sub Opera"

The Herald on "Inner Circle"

And my own Theatre Company was well represented by our dear Ben Allison, performing a monologue especially written for the Festival. Armed with his can of Special Brew and a message on his lips he recited "A Midsummer Nights Train Home" to the unsuspecting commuters, quite hilarious to watch it slowly dawn on them that was in fact not a real drunken bum.

It filled me with elation and joy to hear people laugh and watch them enjoy Ben's performance and when they gave him a standing ovation at the end, on a train, not anticipating they would be performed to...well, that reminded me why I was working non-stop on this festival clad in a frightful bright orange hoodie...little reminders for big pleasures.

Here it is for you to enjoy

A Midsummer Nights Train Home

Friends, Glaswegians, Subway travellers, lend me your beers!
Taxi or not taxi, that was the question;
Whether was nobler in the mind to suffer
The puke and abuse of late night taxi queues,
Or to take the subway and unfortunately
Leave the pub early. On the train, you can sleep
And by a sleep you can stay the hangover
To come and the pounding head of morning.

But soft, no light through yonder window breaks?
It is the inner circle. And it’s dark down here.
Arise, fair lady, and give me your seat,
For I am already sick and pale with beer
And may fall over upon you.

Shall I compare thee to a Summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and just as hot:
Rough trains do shake the darling buds of... sorry
And so i ask if there’s any chance of a date:

Is this a lager which I see before me,
The can turned toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.
I should have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
Art thou not, tasty beveridge, illegal
By public drinking laws? or art thou but
A lager of the mind, a false creation,
Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?
I taste thee yet, in form as palpable
As this which now I burp.

I am a drunk. Hath not a drunk eyes? Hath not a drunk hands,
organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same
kebabs, hurt with the same chibs, subject to the same subway fare,
carried by the same train, warm'd and cool'd by the same wee window, as a sober man is?
If you kick us, do we not say “haw! Watchit pal!”?
If you tickle us, do we not say “gerraf me ya buftie”?
If you poison us, we do not die... cause we’re already pickled!

Out, damn'd spot! out, I say!— who would have thought a wee kebab
Would have had so much sauce in him?

All the world's a train,
And all the men and women merely travellers;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And each one must mind the gap,

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