I’m acting as co-producer for a contemporary dance show for the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe. The dance company is called ‘Parachute Dance’, and I’ve spent the last few hours working on the blog, website and social media channels for Parachute Dance, so you’ll have to excuse me if this R2R blog is fairly brief, and also repeats some of the things I’ve already said over there.
‘Producer’ is a funny word, isn’t it? It doesn’t actually mean creating the piece – the choreographer/director’s role, in this case. Here, ‘producer’ has so far largely meant working on said blogs, said website and said social media channels. As we get closer to the fringe itself, it’ll also involve attempting to solicit funding, helping run a crowdfunding campaign, keeping track of budgets, and generally running around trying to apply the right size of spanner to the various logistical nuts and bolts that performance art requires to get off the ground.
The performance art itself will be largely down to Róisín. As many of you’ll know, dance is very much Róisín’s thing; she dances, she’s studying for a diploma at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, and she choreographs. For this show, she’ll be choreographing, directing and generally writing a piece of art into being. To give that piece of art some muscles, she asked me and Laura if we’d help out. Of course we both said yes immediately, and started drawing lots and lots of logos. Who wouldn’t want to be twenty-something and working with your mates on a big art project, all mildly confused and grinning at the challenge of trying to fit an idea into a show and a show into a festival and maybe even make it good?
So down to the point: what kind of art? The show’s a long way from being written (it only has a working title so far), but it’s going to be a contemporary dance show which takes inspiration from Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. Catch is a brilliant novel, of course, and one of the things it does brilliantly is to use tragedy to make things funnier, and humour to make things more tragic. It doesn’t treat comedy and serious themes as to any degree separate. The serious theme in particular which first caught Ro’s eye was this passage:
[SPOILER ALERT: SKIP THE QUOTE IF YOU HAVEN’T READ CATCH-22. YOU CAN READ AGAIN AFTER THE QUOTATION!]
“Yossarian was cold, too, and shivering uncontrollably. He felt goose pimples clacking all over him as he gazed down despondently at the grim secret Snowden had spilled all over the messy floor. It was too easy to read the message in his entrails. Man was matter, that was Snowden’s secret. Drop him out a window and he’ll fall. Set fire to him and he’ll burn. Bury him and he’ll rot, like other kinds of garbage. The spirit gone, man is garbage. That was Snowden’s secret. Ripeness is all.”
We’re not creating a straight adaptation of Catch, but it’s not hard to see that an excerpt like this is fertile ground for the physical, inevitably bodily art of dance. But more of this later, and closer to the time, and ideally from Ro’s perspective rather than my deeply dance-illterate one!
My co-producer on this is Laura, who’s doing all the producing things that I mentioned above, and who’ll also be taking the lead on a crowdfunding campaign we’ll be running a bit closer to the time. Like she says here, we’ll be asking for help:
But we’re putting a lot of our own money into this (with no expectation of making it back – read this Guardian piece on how putting on a show at the Fringe is a great way to lose all the money you put into it), and we’ve come a long way already! We’ve sorted our venue (theSpace 45, overlooking Waverley station! For two and a bit weeks, roughly the second half of the fringe), clarified our position regarding copyright with the Heller Estate’s UK lawyers, and probably most importantly Róisín’s already got three (possibly four) dancers on board. Alongside this, we have a website, Twitter and Facebook page.
So I know most of us just scroll on by the links that appear below self-promotey things like this; but if you’d like to keep up to date on the PD project, I’d really love it if you took the briefest of seconds to follow these links here. I imagine it’ll come up again on R2R – when we launch the crowd-funding for sure, and during August itself I doubt any of us will have much time to think about anything else!
So here’s to parachutes and here’s to dancing and here’s to making art and here’s to Edinburgh and here’s to the Fringe. Here’s to doing something a little bit terrifying. Here’s to Yossarian and the secret in the entrails.