Wild blue yonder

A gay farce, a feminist Barbie doll, a tale of two lovers and five characters in search of a play make up Tramway’s latest experimental Into the Blue season. Mark Fisher reports.

‘Intn tlte Blue is really fluid.‘ says producer Valerie Edmond about Tramway‘s occasional series of platforms for new work. ‘lt's like a big lump of Plasticine that can take on lots ofdifferent shapes and you can roll it back into a ball when you‘ve finished and start again.‘

The shape of Into the Blue this time round takes the form of two white boxes in Tramway‘s visual arts space where four local companies will each present half-hour shows. Tramway wants to encourage experimentation in the performing arts and the series is a way to give young companies the chance to create the kind of challenging and imaginative theatre with which the venue has become associated. What Tramway has offered in the past is rehearsal space. technical back-up and very limited financial assistance. but as Into the Blue reaches its third season. it has become increasingly involved in developing. steering and assisting the work. ‘There‘s nothing restrictive about it.’ says Edmond. ‘lt‘s for people who have an idea for something they want to do that they don‘t feel is commercially viable. There‘s really nowhere in Scotland that allows them a safe house or a springboard.‘

The evening begins with Tire Hmnosexuul or tlte diffieulty in sexpressr'ng oneself. a gender identity

leigh Bowery makes a guest appearance in Into the Blue

farce by Copi directed by Citz designer Stewart Laing with actor Gerrard McArthur and designer Mark Leese. and featuring nightclub personality Leigh Bowery. it‘s a measure of Tramway‘s commitment to the ideas in all the shows. that it is making no great song and dance about Bowery‘s involvement. and also a measure of how interesting those ideas are that Bowery has felt intrigued enough to contribute.

Moving to the smaller of the two performance

boxes. we stay with sexual politics in an off-beat show by ex-7z84 associate director Roanna Benn about a girl who liberates her sister‘s Barbie doll from the clutches of Ken. Then it’s back to the first box for Panacea. a love story created by a new young company called Moral Support. And the evening is rounded off by ltt and Ott‘s The Messenger. the Witch. the Secretary. the Soldier and the Maid in which five characrers from five plays meet on a train platform. but can only communicate using their original dialogue.

‘I think this Into the Blue is going to be very stylish.‘ says Edmond who is already planning the next all-female instalment for the autumn. ‘l think it could become quite a cult thing to come and see who’s doing something quite extraordinary. They‘re not Michael Clark or Robert Lepage. but they could be in ten years. The companies have got such definite styles. It's quite uncompromising. You‘d think with anything experimental there'd be lots of changes of mind, but they’ve all known what they wanted to do and how they wanted to produce it. There‘s a real concentrated consistency of ideas and style from each of them.’

Inspired by the work of the Centre for Contemporary Arts which has a long tradition of making space for left-of-centre artists to explore, experiment and create, Edmond is aware that there are long-term implications in initiating this kind of work. There is an inevitable unpredictability about how successful each show will be. but Tramway has already shown in its commissioning of Life Dance after a previous Into the Blue. that if good work emerges it is worth developing and preserving. ‘What concerns me most,‘ says Edmond. ‘is having made these initial commitments how do we follow them up. how do you develop it in a way that is stylish and interesting and doesn‘t have a kind of home-grown sack-cloth and ashes feel to it “Don’t come and see it. it'll be someone painted yellow with bananas over their shoulder blades". The way through it is to be bold and defiant about who you select and to be very supportive ofthe work that‘s chosen.’

Into the Blue. Tramway. Glasgow. Thurs 24—Sut 26 Jun.

:— Body politics

‘l leel we live in very locked body- worlds with little music or dance on the streets, so in my work I try to make visible the stories and dreams that are inside the body.’ Miranda Tutnell, choreographer oi In The Grain lit The Body, tends to describe her work in a poetic manner. She has spent two years preparing the piece, together with her collaborators, composer Sylvia llallett and artist David Ward. Somehow I get the teeling the work has been lovingly created.

Originally a site-specific piece designed tor a large, domed, 18th century church in Newcastle, the work could be described as mum-media.

the iloor.’

I m n the Brainiol the Body

being so close.‘

‘The sound, the movement and the lights are very much all at a piece together,’ says Tuinell. ‘We till the space with music and there are slides of galaxies, leathers and a moon on

Initially the work was inspired by an exhibition of photographs by Sebastien Selgado. ‘I came out thinking I must never lorget those images at lamina in Ethiopia,’ says explains, ‘or the de-humanised bodies of Brazilian mine-workers - horrendous and moving pictures. I sensed the incredible vulnerability ot the body and its strength -

When asked about the title Tutnell explains: ‘I think of the way that the


grain of wood is worn by the iorces oi ' weather and how the body is comparably shaped by the emotions.’ As both an Alexander Technique and dance teacher at many years standing, Tutnell speaks with authority about the human frame. ‘Thls piece is like a journey through the landscape of the body,’ she says. ‘Tbe spaciousness interests me - we have 1500 miles of capillaries; and the liquid quality - water makes up such a large part of us. I use analogies like how the bones oi the head move like the plates at the earth. I work with these ideas in a sensual and physical way.’ (Tarnsin Grainger)

In The Grain Of The Body, Tramway, Glasgow, Mon 21-Tue 22 Jun.

the two

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