In case you hadn’t heard, there’s an election coming up. But if the leaders’ debates have left you cold, concluding that none of the men anyway should be in charge of a piss up in a brewery, and generally just thinking that you’d be as well voting for the guy in the audience with the funny moustache, well my friends, you are not alone. Luckily for us though, the Arches BEHAVIOUR is festival back, examining our society as it really stands, looking to the future, and asking all the right questions. And if they don’t have answers? Well, at least they’re honest.
Kicking us off are the ever welcome Gob Squad with Western Society and Dead Centre’s multi-award winning Lippy. Gob Squad zoom the focus right in to the western family’s living room, where the audience might just see themselves- but is it too real or too fake? Or are our lives both? Meanwhile Lippy looks at a suicide pact from fourteen years ago, which lasted forty days. They can’t tell us what happened in that time, they can’t tell us what was said. So this is instead an exploration of our impetus to tell stories in the face of tragedy.
Alongside these wider looks at societal behaviours runs a series of works looking specifically at how we can approach the impending election. Writer and performer Chris Thorpe and The TEAM’s Rachel Chavkin bring us the Fringe First winning Confirmation, a one man dialogue with political extremism and the phenomenon of confirmation bias, and how we can believe what we believe, which might not leave you sitting comfortably. For those of us who want to give our tuppence-worth is Coney’s Early Days (of a better nation) which invites the audience to help build a new country out the ruins of war, decide what rules to live by and what mistakes from the past to avoid. Then on the eve of the election Nic Green, Laura Bradshaw and Rosana Cade bring their voices together in Cock and Bull, a scratch performance using words from Conservative Party conference speeches and reappropriating that power.
If we’re looking at the state of society though, we also need to look at our identities within the larger picture, and that’s just what Japanese artist Sako Kojima is doing, spending six hours a day for five days in a hamster cage in The Reason Why I Become a Hamster. Platform 18 winner Ishbel McFarlane will be looking at the ways in which we articulate ourselves in O is for Hoolet, her interrogation of the Scots language and the prejudices and attitudes people hold towards minority languages, even those they speak themselves. Arches familiars Peter McMaster and Nick Anderson push their bodies to the very limits of what it is to be alive in the visceral 27, as the two performers unpack their autobiographies in the face of growing older, and changing. Then Dancer, a work created by Ian Johnstone, Gary Gardiner and the beloved, late Adrian Howells, provokes questions about what it means to be a dancer, who can dance and where? As a learning disabled artist, Johnstone, along with Gardiner, are raising questions of visibility and permissibility as well as sharing a few of their moves in this generous piece.
But sometimes, in the face of the bigger questions, things just get a little weird, a little dark, a little apocalyptic. This is what Arches Brick Award 2014 winners Christeene and Christopher Brett Bailey are here to offer. The Christeene Machine brings us gristly, raw and darker than dark secrets in this bestial ‘queer perversion of punk dragged through the musical theatre gutter’, while This is How We Die sees Brett Bailey’s desk give rise to a frantic mix of spoken word images and storytelling in this surreal odyssey for a world coming to its end.
For more information about these shows, and other performances and events running as part of BEHAVIOUR15, including The Museum of Water, Anonymous P, work from Tim Etchells, the Arches Commons series and the Sexology Season, visit the Arches website here.
[Caitlin MacColl – @turningtoaverse]