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Sue Wilson talks to self- styled ‘scul?tor’ George Wyllie about paper boats and pataphysics, just two of the ingredients in his forthcoming Fringe show.
‘lt’s a kind of extension of scul?ture and a bending of theatre.’ says George Wyllie of his forthcoming Fringe production, The Voyages of the Paper Boat, and — as anyone familiar with his work will know - that’s as close as you’re likely to get to a deﬁnition. As Scotland’s only scul?tor (‘sculptor’ implies too much high seriousness, he says; he’s more in the business of ‘ “up yours art” than fine art’), Wyllie has made his name with large-scale work that marries humour and humanist politics, of which the Paper Boat, created in 1990 as a protest against the running down of the shipbuilding industry, is probably the best known.
Its theatrical incarnation is envisaged as a kind of log-book of his scul?tural ‘ports of call’ over the years, which will be shown as slides on a large boat- shaped screen, with interpolations from Wyllie and his crew - ‘able-bodied dancer Rosina Bonsu’ (one of
George Wyllie: 'noro “in yous art” than m I
Scotland’s leading contemporary dance artists) and ‘ship’s band’ Steve Thornton, a respected freelance musician who has worked extensively with Scottish Ballet, among others.
‘The best way to think about it is really in paper boat terms,’ Wyllie says. ‘When you make a paper boat it’s a ﬂimsy vessel, you put it on a stream and you don’t know where it's going to go. But at the same time it is a stream and it is a paper boat; there is a ﬁxed aspect to it, but as to its direction and what it discovers - well, that’s the essential unpredictable part.’
During the show, Wyllie also promises to reveal the nature of pataphysical
philosophy (as laid out by King Ubu’s creator Alfred Jarry) ‘through the disparity of shoes and spires, rockets and art-eating crocodiles.’ Er. . .
‘Jarry described pataphysics as being as far from metaphysics as metaphysics is from physics,’ Wyllie explains. ‘lt’s the the science of imaginary solutions, based on contradiction, ambiguity, paradox and laughter. and that’s really what we’re on, a pataphysical voyage — we have to imagine our destination.’
All of which will be wonderfully inventive and very funny, if Wyllie’s past form is anything to go by, but there’s more to the venture than comedy, he says. ‘All of a sudden i feel kind of serious about the whole thing, because i think everyone these days is perplexed at the way we’re all behaving, whether it’s the drug problem in Govan or the savagery in Sarajevo — the human race is just going all kind of wrong. So we’ve picked up the old Paper Boat thing, and we’ll set ourselves difficulties which we’ll have to ride out, and through this exercise see if we can suggest future directions. Though when you get stuck with this kind of philos0phy, you know that the boat’s not going to go the way you want it to - a bit like the human race, in a way, the boat is just as awkward and difﬁcult and unpredictable, and to a certain extent as beautiful.’ IThoVoyagesoithePaporBoat (Fringe) George Wyllie and Crew, Tron Kirk (Venue 5) 24-28 Aug, 8.30pm, £6.50.
What with continuing concern over the growth oi the sex Industry in post- coluuulst eastern Europe and current media tales oi llollyivood executives svreatiug In tear over nodan-to-the- sters lloldl Flelss’ little blaclr book, the tiling could hardly he better ier Jean Findlay’s new play about prostitution
Call the Susan features true ilctlonal high-class prostitutes (an older Whore oi labylon figure and a younger union, a little Ilre a iattorday Eve, asking tor advice to turthor her pursuit oi knowledge) who loot in a ‘hrothul ot the haglnatlon’. The scenes are lutercut nith docuoutary bogus and testhouy gathered tro- real-lite prostitutes in Men, Pats, hone, Edinburgh and Blasguvr. ‘I wanted to cite sonetlrlng that explores the dltlereuce between the tautasy and tho reality oi prestitutlon,’ Findlay
explains. Without denying that exploitation Is
the In tho sex Industry, Findlay has
been held enough to expand tho play’s perspective beyond tho socialist- le-lnlst vlou et prostitution as si-ply a product oi nouen's economc and sexual oppression. Portruylng prostitutes as suhluated victiius often ignores tho tact that their only alternatives, work-vise, are other
toms oi exploitation, which happen to be legal but are considerably less lucrative.
“Terrible exploitation does exist, oi course you could and look at it iron that angle and find countless examples, but I don’t think that goes anyway towards curing it - l thlnit an understanding oi the subject will do tnore,’ Findlay says. ‘lt’s very patronising to say to a prostitute, “you're being exploited" - with a lot of then, it’s the choice they’ve made out at the options that are available to thea,andalotoitherulnaireagood lob out oi it, and a good living.
The prostitutes I not all had great dignity, they’d all thought about their experiences and could malre something of tlrenr. They weren’t downtrodden, exploited, sat-upon neuron in any way. The play lrlnd oi luggies ethics and inorality and attitudes - there isn’t one overriding conclusion at the end. I want to leave loads oi questions hanging in the alr.’ (Sue Wilson)
Call Me Susan (Fringe) Srassrnarlret Project, Traverse Theatre (Venue 15) 2281404, 24, 27, 31 Aug, 3 Sept, 8pm; 25.28M.1.4Som.1nm;26.29m. 2 Sept, 4.30pm, £7 (£4).
Sue Wilson selects live delights to assuage that mid-evening cultural hungen
I Bloody Poetry Double Edge Drama returns after rave reviews in 199! and l992 with Brenton’s energetic portrayal of Byron and Shelley’s tumultuous meeting in Switzerland.
Bloody Poetry (Fringe) Double Edge Drama. Adam House Theatre (Venue 34) 650 8200. 20. 23. 25. 27 Aug,
9. 45pm. £4. 50 (£3. 50).
I Kit 8: the Widovr - Stutted and Mounted Suave musical cabaret at its wittiest and most urbane from two Fringe favourites.
Kit & the Widow — Stuﬂed and Mounted (Fringe) Kit & the Widow. Cafe Royal (Venue 47) 556 2549, until 4 Sept (not Suns), 8pm & 9.20pm, £6 (£5).
I Sleeping With You Marvellous intense," lyrical, sensuous one-man show from Hawaii’s Starving Artists company celebrating queer culture and mouming the gay community’s losses. Sleeping With You (Fringe) Starving Artists, Traverse Theatre (Venue 15) 228 I404. 20 Aug, 1pm; 21 Aug. 4.30pm; 22 Aug, 8pm, £7 (£4).
I Blood & Guts - The lloug Anthony Alistars lnepressibly, hilariously anarchic Antipodean trio delving into the delights of necrOphilia. Their last Fringe visit for the foreseeable future — catch them while you can.
Blood & Guts (Fringe) The Doug Anthony Allstars. Fringe Club (Venue 2) 226 525 7/650 4673. until 29 Aug (not Mon 23). 9pm. £6.50 (£5.50).
I The Angel and the Bouncer Full- blooded physical comedy with attitude from Glitteris, described as ‘24-carat talent'. i The Angel and the Bouncer (Fringe) Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 650, until 4 Sept (not Tue 24). 9.15pm. £5—£5.50 (£3-£3.50).
The List 20—26 August 1993 45