Work, No Definition’,
a season of performance crossing the boundaries between art and theatre opens in Glasgow and Edinburgh this month. Stephanie Billen and Sarah Hemming talk to some of the performers and to the organisers (on Page One).
‘With the political instability here, art which addresses politics. directly or indirectly, can have more meaning, may count for more, than in a politically stable society.‘ With his installation ‘Out the In‘ Alistair MacLennan brings ‘here‘ to ‘here‘ — the perils of Northern Ireland to Scotland. A stench of rotting fish and
the wail of Irish music create an eerie envirnoment for a bomb site of symbolically loaded bowler hats. prams and newspapers.
MacLennan is the lonely balaclava-ed figure in black charcoaling fish on the walls. In this, as in his previous mesmerising installations. he is present twenty-four hours a day, a quiet,
insistent presence (3.3). Out The In.
Third Eye,16—l8 Oct. NEIL BARTLETT
‘Turning up at parties with his boyfriend made Solomon Simeon a bad Jew and a bad person,‘ says Neil Bartlett. recalling the prejudiced Victorian society which lauded then lampooned one of its finest pre-Raphaelite artists.
Bartlett finds hope though in Solomon‘s apparent rejection by society after he was arrested for having sex with an older man in an Oxford Street public toilet: ‘He knew what he was doing and that he would be caught sometime. It was he who rejected society.’
Bartlett and fellow-gay Robert Whitmore do not seek to act or impersonate Solomon, or even to tell his story. Instead an erotic, physical performance becomes ‘a joyous
Lem-3'08 Scale I lntemational. I" Right: "the Cap Fits, r , . 2 Below Lett: Neil Bartlett. (see Below).
(Third Eye. 13 Nov).
affirmation‘ of Solomon‘s lifestyle, and finds modern parallels with with his ‘trying to imagine how to love people. to discover how you are supposed to love in an intensely hostile environment. If two men were caught making love in Sauchiehall Street. the same thing would happen today.‘ (8.8.) A Vision etc. Third Eye, 27 & 28 Nov; Traverse 1—5 Dec.
‘What if I want to tell a story apparently nothing to do with me — like about pirates, that classic boy‘s adventure myth. Then you read about them and discover that the word pirate was synonymous with rape. So much for having nothing to do with women.’
The fact that ‘Blackbeard“s author. Daniel Defoe, clearly felt
that compared to the number of boats lost and goods stolen, rapes were insignificant — just to be mentioned in passing — adds another level ofirony to Annie Griffin‘s one-woman pirate-drama about the notorious plunderer.
Desire has become paramount in Griffin‘s second work, ‘Almost Persuaded‘, which finds new dimensions in the song ofthat name by Country and Western singer
Left: Alisdair MacLennan’s pram. Above: Man Act. Below Lett: Oscar McLennan. whose broodin monolgues make surreal. black cabaret
Tammy Wynette. The singer who penned ‘Stand By Your Man‘ tells the story, in ‘Almost Persuaded‘. of a wedding-ringed wife overcoming temptation in a bar. But ‘Stand By Your Man’ was written after Tammy Wynette had just left her third abusive husband. And of ‘Almost Persuaded‘ Annie Griffin says. ‘You could look at it that she takes four minutes to tell you about the strength of her desires and only twenty seconds to say how she refused him. The song is affirming both the strength of her morality and ofher desires. She is saying ‘I can take it‘.‘
Don‘t expect any easy answers. however; Annie Griffin's visually and verbally challenging pieces are both, she says. exploring ‘how women learn to subvert what they have been given from a culture which doesn’t respect them.‘ (8.8.) Blackbeard. Traverse. 27-29 Oct; Almost Persuaded. Traverse, 30 & 31 Oct.
‘She spares us nothing. Brace yourself. but see it,’ said The Independent review of Claire Dowie’s show. ‘Adult Child/Dead Child’ when it was shown earlier in London. Dowie seems mildly
4 The List 16 — 29 October