Education, Colonialism and ‘Quad’

Miriam McDowell & Fay Butler

Not only is the building bursting with live and visual arts this festival, but we also have an eclectic programme of talks, panels and workshops to encourage challenging debate and discussion in the midst of the Fringe.

On the 15th, panel discussion, Must Try Harder, hosted in conjunction with the Glasgow youth theatre group Junction 25, opened up a discussion about Scotland’s educational system. Points raised included questions over the quality of teaching, pupil feedback, contrasting teaching styles in primary and secondary schools and the overwhelming expectations to go to university. Panelists included Helen Mackie (previously Head of St George’s Girl’s School), Marilyne Maclaren (former Education Convener), Iain Johnstone (director, writer and actor in One Giant Leap, Wee Stories) and cast members Jack, Stan and Becca, who currently pursuing their aspirations at music school and university, from Junction 25’s play Anoesis.

On the 16th, Katie Kitamura discussed her critically acclaimed novel Gone to the Forest over tea and cake in our Dissection Room. Led by Peggy Hughes (Programme Director of the Dundee Literary Festival) the discussion debated the themes of gender and colonialism in her novel, as well raising questions about the writing process, publishing and the influence of technology over writers today.

On the 17th, we took a bit of time out to look more closely at what we actually see on stage. A term that gets ‘thrown around’ a lot especially during the festival is “Physical Theatre” and we were joined by Simon Murray, former Director of theatre at Dartington College of Arts and current Theatre Studies lecturer at the University of Glasgow, who was able to shed some light on what physical theatres are, how they are used and whether they really exist.

Simon trained in Paris in the late 80s with Phillipe Gaulier and Monika Pagneux, former pupils of the renowned Lecoq School of International Theatre and masters of physical theatre. In his talk Simon contextualised physical theatre with a beautifully simple overview of its development throughout the 20th century and illustrated this with some video footage including Lecoq and his pupils in a movement class and a glimpse at the work of Pina Bausch, a leading influence on modern Tanztheater.

Simon’s talk sparked lots of discussion amongst the audience, challenging us to review the lines between live arts, visual arts and physical theatre. The question and answer session revealed just how closely physical theatres overlap with other art forms when we consider Samuel Beckett’s play Quad or one of our own festival shows, Robbie Thomson’s installation Ecstatic Art. Could these be consider physical theatre?

This event was an excellent insight into physical theatre and of interest to performers, choreographers and equally anyone who enjoys watching theatre and dance.

Don’t worry if you missed these events, there are still more exciting workshops, talks and panels to come during the festival and beyond!