Friday October 5th was my first day of placement with Imaginate and to start off with a bang I travelled all the way to Aberdeen by train. There I met up with the woman overseeing my placement – Fiona Ferguson the creative development director of Imaginate and her colleague- Imaginate producer Pamela Walker.
We travelled to Aberdeen to see a sharing of work that had come out of a collaboration between Mhairi Allan and Heather Fulton. The two had been provided the opportunity to do this residency by Imaginate and city moves. This involved them being given a week in the anatomy rooms Aberdeen as well as a budget to experiment and develop together. They used their budget to see some inspiring work, pay for their time and also allow them to bring in various other artists and professionals – two dancers, an improv cellist and a photographer. The result was really quite wonderful, the sharing was of a really high standard. The performance work itself a beautiful combination of contemporary dance knowledge from Mhairi and a very specific artistic eye pushing the work in a clear and cohesive way from theatre director Heather.
The piece for me brought up ideas about childhood rivalry, jealousy, games, imagination and play and has inspired me to reconsider my approach to choreography. The very professional dancers at moments moved in extraordinary, complicated and for me unachievable ways but in others they brought great beauty to very simple, natural gestures which really drew me in and held my attention.
Walking back to the station afterwards gave Fiona and I a chance to talk more about children’s theatre and how the subject is covered within the contemporary performance practice course at rcs.
In our current set up the pieces of work being made by artists in the course or just recently graduated only really reach an audience made up of our classmates, graduates or artists also within this industry. This has allowed our community and our audience to become quite insular, We’re only making work for each other. And during the run of the course we don’t really investigate the discipline of making work for other audiences. When we interact with other groups it’s in a collaborative capacity – involving the young people in the making and performing. Whilst this has its merits and strengths and I believe strongly in the power of giving young people the space to speak, its not the only empowering way that children should be able to access this artform.
Seeing high quality, progressive theatre is inspiring, listening to stories that speak about the world and the way we move through it is important. Engaging with art that allows for reflection on the way the world works shapes people and creates space for so much personal development, this can’t be a privilege reserved only for adults who can afford to see the pieces. I feel that the first hurdle to be jumped is to have artists actually making the work, something that is less likely to happen if key degree programmes don’t include consideration of audience as part of teaching about making theatre.
Photos 1 and 2 by Sid Scott, 3rd provided by Citymoves Aberdeen