Oog Trailer I am delighted to be presenting Oog (7th-23rd August) at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, as part of Dance Base’s line up, and am thrilled that Morag Deyes and all her team there are behind the show. Oog at Dance Base: Dates and times
It will be a tougher run than usual, however. Oog, like almost all my shows of the past ten years, came into being in The Arches. Right now I am planning my next show and I can’t shake the image of the back wall of The Arches studio theatre from my mind; it’s the backdrop for my thinking about shows; my starting point. My coat for Oog was designed to look as if it had grown out of it.
I’m proud to be flying the Arches flag – quite possibly for the last time – at this year’s fringe, and am thankful that Oog is the sort of show that rage and sadness, and perhaps even mad optimism, can be usefully poured into. I hope the results will be a fitting salute. Follow, and support, The Arches’ ongoing fight here.
I am also proud to say that Jill Smith and Kat Boyle, formerly of The Arches, and now of newly formed Feral Arts (website etc. coming soon) will be supporting me throughout my fringe run and autumn tour, and I hope to continue working closely with them on my future projects. Many thanks to them.
Also, very big thanks to Minty Donald and Glasgow Uni’s Theatre, Film and Television department, and also all at Kinning Park Complex, for stepping in with offers of space without which Oog’s development might have ground to a halt.
On 23rd August I will be heading to WAVES Festival, Denmark, with Oog, before starting its Scottish autumn tour; more details on touring to follow.
I have been producing theatre at the Arches for 10 years, was the venue’s artist in residence for two of these and, before that, learned something about the most important principles of theatre on its dance floors. That is not an attempt at poeticism; it’s a fact.
For me, to rehearse and present theatre in spaces that hours later would be transformed into iconic Arches club nights, to attend these club nights, and sometimes perform at them, has always been part and parcel of the same ongoing, integrated experience.
On the Arches’ dance floors I learned about spectacle, about the power of tangible, shared energy; about community. I learned about the fundamental relationship between music and performance, between pleasure and creativity, and most importantly; that with inspirational leadership a venue can provide meaningful shape and focus to raw pleasure seeking, and produce art.
But then this is nothing new; it is in fact 2,500 years not-new. Greek Tragedy – and therefore the whole of Western theatre – was born from actors, who provided narrative, taking their place within choirs who sang and danced in honour of Dionysus. Music and theatre, theatre and music; the oldest and most profound relationship between artforms that perhaps exists.
A canny understanding of the relationship between music and theatre, and between pleasure and art, has always been at the very heart of The Arches’ programming ethos. The daring cross-artform work produced within the Arches has always epitomized everything that is vital, exuberant and essential about the arts in Scotland and it is no wonder that it has been a magnet for wave after wave of emergent artists, and clubbers, who have sensed instinctively that this is a place where the new and the established, the provocative and the profound, can coexist.
The Arches’ clubbers are not an add-on to this equation; they are at the root of it. It could be argued that they are in fact one contemporary embodiment of performance’s social, ritual, pleasure-seeking roots. Clubbing is theatre come full circle. Clubbing is to meet and, through the shared energy of music, transform: It is as valid a form of catharsis as Tragedy.
How then, I asked myself, did Police Scotland imagine that The Arches as we know it could survive, even if the crippling economic burden of the licensing restrictions now imposed could somehow be managed? Perhaps their thinking is so far removed from tens of thousands of the community they are charged with serving that they just cannot perceive that The-Arches-the-club and The-Arches-the-arts-venue are emphatically one and the same identity, or, more disturbingly, they just don’t choose to care.
Then it struck me – the horror – could it be possible that on some semi-conscious level they do get it, that they sense, somehow, that the Arches’ clubber is in fact a lynchpin that supports a deeply rooted infrastructure of liberal, creative thinking at the venue that is as baffling to them as Techno; and therefore as troubling? Could it be the very fact that The Arches embodies clubbing as a valuable component of practical social dynamism that has made it a target? Surely not…
The Arches has been scapegoated, beyond doubt, and the reasons behind this remain incomprehensible at best, and at worst, too awful to fully digest yet.
Others have already outlined the enormous shortsightedness of the argument which runs that drug use can be combatted by restricting access to spaces where those who already have drugs prefer to take them; alongside many others who don’t. If that is the approach I suggest an additional precaution: Ban all music that drug-takers listen to… Actually, easier to just ban all music.
Hang on a tick though; would that not merely result in hordes setting out to the hillsides to indulge their vices, all singing and clapping and stamping their feet; that all sounds terribly familiar and, er, Greek.
In this instance Police Scotland are not engaging with issues of drug use or excessive drinking or the various ways in which these activities relate to our society as a whole; they are attempting to repress these issues, and by repressing them they are driving them a little bit further to the margins where the dangers are less easy to monitor and therefore less of their responsibility.
The consequences of this failed approach are now falling on a forward thinking, impeccably safety conscious arts institution in a manner that could have ‘potentially lethal’ results. Worst of all, they are setting themselves a precedent that could increasingly bring them into outright confrontation with some of our most essential beliefs about the value of culture and the many and varied forms it takes.
Oog recently debuted at The Arches Glasgow. This is what the press had to say:
“Visual imagery that sometimes takes the breath away… An experience that will leave no-one who sees it completely unchanged.” The Scotsman.
“As a sequel to The Factory, it’s a brilliant denouement but Oog works, impressively, in its own right with Seed in storming form.” The Herald.
“…one of the most precise and visceral performers working today.” Exeunt Magazine.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE: https://vimeo.com/111015651
Al is now making plans to present Oog elsewhere in Scotland and to bring the show to the Edinburgh fringe 2015.
Multi-award winning performer Al Seed returns to the Arches with his first entirely movement-based solo since The Factory.
The end of a war, a locked cellar, Oog… This intensely physical performance, driven by a blistering soundtrack, is a visual poem about violence and its aftermath.
“This is a triumph.” The Herald (On The Red Room)
“The best show in this vein to emerge from Scotland so far.” The Scotsman (On The Fooligan)
“Al Seed can captivate an audience without leaving his seat.” The Scotsman (On The Factory)
Al is one of 3 tutors leading ‘Embodied Theatre’, a 6-week course being delivered in Glasgow over 4 teaching blocks between December 2013 and September 2014. He is teaching alongside performer–directors Alex Rigg (Oceanallover) and Ewan Downie (Company of Wolves). The course is designed to provide established performers, actors, directors and designers with the opportunity to extend their physical performance skills without having to spend extensive periods away from paid employment. Details attached.
This piece explores justice in its most tantalizing form – vengeance. Blending highly physicalized storytelling with fantastical visual imagery this vicious, often hilarious tale follows a chain of characters, each touched in some way by the compulsion to avenge.