#EdFringe Life: Sex, nudity, JRR Tolkien & Malaysia

In Dance, Edinburgh Festival, Features, Festivals, Inspiring people, Opinion, Regional theatre, Reviews, Scotland by Chris GradyLeave a Comment

Blogs can be revealing, but not have as much as the two shows I attended yesterday morning back to back. I thought I’d take a stroll to catch up with the anarchic performance artist Monkey Poet with his new show Jason and the Fleeced. I am sure it is great, and should be packing them in to the Banshee Labyrinth at 12:50 each day, but on Tuesdays he is exploring a new show.  I became part of a small discussion group exploring our/his/their sex lives. Not what I’d intended to do – but hey its the Fringe and he assured us it was for research purposes.

Matt, the Monkey Poet, is a massive energy across the international spoken word touring scene, and this year he has programmed 80 shows within the Free Fringe. He has decided to use his Tuesdays as part of his ongoing thinking for a new show for 2017 which may be called Dr Monkey Poet’s Sex Clinic. He definitely has some tales to tell – and I will never think of alligators or Wendy houses in the same way again.  I look forward to exploring his ideas for the show over the coming months and seeing whether he chooses to create something which explores the new sexual revolution, which I hope is consensual, conscious, and heartfelt.

I had to leave a little early for another revelation – the annual Naked Cabaret at Underbelly. This is a charity gig for Body Charity where the performers and audience are naked. It was enormous fun, with some great acts, and an open relaxed, warm hearted audience.  Some of you will know that I am developing a research programme on clothing optional theatre and events. Exploring how we choose to reveal our bodies in life, performance and art. So I had to be there. I applaud the venue and the venue management for welcoming the event, thinking through how it can work effectively in a multiplex where other shows and audiences are more “textile”.

Part of my work is to develop some guidelines to help venues and this will be a very helpful event to use as “good practice”.   By the end we were all on stage for a short ceilidh moment with live naked fiddle player – and a quick body surf for one of the artists. What could be better to celebrate the middle of the largest fringe on earth.

Both events offer a chance for consideration of the deeper revelations which are possible, and welcomed, if there is a safely held space (clothed or naked). Matt is interested to look at opening up discussion in a serious way, within the framework of rich comedy which is a challenging balance.  This Naked Cabaret allows us to reveal ourselves in a way which is not titillating (from the latin for tickle), and offers us a glimpse into the wonderful work of art that is the human form.
I moved on from this celebration to a glorious piece of grown-up storytelling, including the chance to buy a first edition of a work by JRR Tolkein – which I will treasure. Last year I saw a show by Puppet State Theatre Company which now ranks as one of the top ten pieces of theatre I have ever seen in my life. “The Man Who Planted Trees” has toured the world for 10 years playing to family and child audiences. Yesterday I saw their new piece “Leaf by Niggle” which has been a ten year developing idea from Richard Medrington. It was most beautiful storytelling, weaving the world of Richard’s family onto the stage of the Storytelling Centre. He set us up into a wonderous meditative state to enjoy the journey of Niggle through his painting, life, disappointments,and joy- in the sometimes unhelpful company of his next door neighbour.
I suspect this show will have a life all over the world, playing in solo theatre festivals, storytelling and literary celebrations, small theatres and major venues for the next 10 years.  Quite apart from the delicious multi-layered story, there is the added delight of a stage beautifully created with real objects, with real memories, which enrich our understanding of life, family, and legacy.  Don’t go expecting a kids show, or a dog, or tree smells in the audience – go expecting a beautiful grownup story experience.
My next show was another treat – I am very lucky with my hit rate this year. If you like dance, are interested in the exploration of traditional and contemporary life, and especially if you know or would love to know a little of Malaysia, then grab a ticket for Bhumi  . Amin Farid is the the creative director and one of 6 wonderful high quality contemporary and culturally diverse performers. The Bhumi Collective, founded by Soultari Amid Farid and producer Mohamad Shaifulbahri, seeks to develop transnational work to stage stories which bring to the forefront lesser seen, the lesser heard and lesser talked about. It is a mission which will give them both rich areas to explore and I am delighted to have seen their premier production in the lovely new dance/theatre space at The Space on Niddry Street.  Do try and catch this show and consider the company for future commissions, or for touring to your theatre or festival.
Time for some more theatre – Theatre Imaginers, opera, Human Zoo Theatre Company and a filthy Punch and Judy show are just a few of the experiences for today.

Chris Grady on RssChris Grady on Twitter
Chris Grady
Chris Grady is a creative and business life coach who has worked in arts and project management for more than 30 years, running marketing departments and creating festivals and theatres in Bristol, Plymouth, Edinburgh, Buxton, Keswick, London and Bury St Edmonds. He has also run the Vivian Ellis Prize for new musicals, and written Your Life in Theatre, a careers guide for all stages of your career. He is preparing an MA for Theatre Producers with Mountview Academy for Theatre Arts. Chris blogs about arts management at www.chrisgrady.org.
Read more...

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Chris Grady on RssChris Grady on Twitter
Chris Grady
Chris Grady is a creative and business life coach who has worked in arts and project management for more than 30 years, running marketing departments and creating festivals and theatres in Bristol, Plymouth, Edinburgh, Buxton, Keswick, London and Bury St Edmonds. He has also run the Vivian Ellis Prize for new musicals, and written Your Life in Theatre, a careers guide for all stages of your career. He is preparing an MA for Theatre Producers with Mountview Academy for Theatre Arts. Chris blogs about arts management at www.chrisgrady.org.

Leave a Comment