This year the NATIONAL REVIEW OF LIVE ART goes underground at the Arches in Glasgow.
Mark Brown spoke to the Festival’s artistic director Nikki Milican and some of the artists involved.
6 fyou want a good time and a laugh. then it’s probably the wrong thing for you,’ Nikki Milican reﬂects on the ‘real concerns’ of this year’s National Review.
Conceived in 1980 as an annual event. rested for three years from 1990 due to the crisis at Glasgow’s Third Eye Centre. where Milican was performance director. the Review comes to the Arches following its return at London’s lCA last year. Challenging and political. Milican feels the festival was too important to let go. ‘After the deluge of stand-up comics you get for three weeks in Edinburgh. thank God there’s something else.’
gay identity. the Review performances reflect Milican’s desire to deal with serious issues which she feels are ‘very relevant to all our lives . . . and which need to be dealt with. i think artists have that responsibility’. This vast and crucial area of human oppression and exploitation is one she believes artists deal with in a way ‘far more direct and honest than. say. politicians’. _ From the showing of Derek Jarman’s AIDS odyssey Blue. with live music and Super 8 film. to Mark Jeffrey’s examination of sexual suppression. repression and the HIV/AIDS crisis in [)isjzmctzu'es. there can be no question of the Festival shirking any responsibility. Hysterical Asians is an attack on the constraints of set and packaged cultural identity. and. according to the artist. Sarbjit Samra, an exploration of ‘the dynamics of American imperialism and its intstitutionalisation of desire.’ Glyn Davies Marshall’s The Bearer is the story of the artist’s search for the truth behind the death of his grandfather at the age of 33 in a 1947 coal mining accident. A contemplation on the circumstances of the miner’s death as well as his quest for hard facts. Marshall’s piece speaks to the continuing tragedy of the mining communities.
In directing a festival with such serious concerns and such diverse and all-embracing artistic forms. Milican had neither the time nor the inclination for the slick presentation of last year’s National Review. ‘This year. having it live and underground at the Arches was quite deliberate.’ she remarks. ‘It was like saying. “We reclaim our Festival . . . " I don’t
iona Templeton’s Recognition. described as
‘a solo piece that is a virtual duet’. is a
reflection on the pretences people employ in order to deal with mortality and absence.
It was originally intended that the piece be performed by Templeton and Michael Ratomski. with whom it was developed. but Ratomski is now so unwell with AIDS-related illness that it has become a solo. ‘The original piece was about the question of how one person can understand another person’s experience.’ says Templeton. ‘Doing it as a solo actually seems very appropriate. because that question becomes even more intensified.’
Performing in a courtroom-style set-up. Templeton wants to confront her audience with an instantly recognisable symbol of a universal
From the pressures of sexual inhibition to an optimistic exploration of
Live an Direct
National Review: from clubbing to Super 8 to Mark Jeffrey’s examination of sexual repression
want to be packaged up nicely any more.‘ Wllh just a touch of bitterness. she considers the fact that the Review has become a victim of its own success. as other festivals and circuits have sprung up in its wake. ‘Obviously that then. ironically. sets a threat to the National Review.’
However. as this year’s programming suggests. Nikki Milican is confident about the future of the Festival: ‘The National Review has to keep one step ahead of the game. which I think it’s succeeded in doing over the twelve years.’
National Review of LiveArt, Wed 1 9 — Sun 23 ()ct, the A rches. See Theatre Listings for details
Glasgow-horn Fiona Iempleton comes home with a solo show about understanding and mortality
state of socialjudgement which she nevertheless
this construction would seem to be to demonstrate the absurdity of such structures within human relations. ‘The boundaries between people are a lot more fluid than natural- istic theatre characterisation would suggest.’
An unconventional solo, as Templeton
feels is false and manufactured. The intention of
represents a real person rather than a fictional character. Recognition is obviously a deeply personal and emotional project. She has. however. been challenged to justify her reflec— tion on her own feelings. given the intensity of Michael's experiences.’
Fiona Templeton believes very strongly that we are not atomised ‘completely separate little
bundles of personality’. Her feelings that it is ‘things that happen between people that are more important’. drives her desire to ‘connect that to the way our civilisation looks at mortal- ity.’
Recognition at the Arches. Glasgow, Fri 21, 8pnz/Sat 22 ()ct, 7pm. ()pen discussion with Fiona 'Iempleton, Fri 2/ ()ct, 4pm.
14 The List 7—20 October 1994