Friday 28 June 2019
The day began with 30 mins of near silent observation on Victoria Road. Dylan set us the task to only talk if we were spoken to, to enter 1 shop and only check our phones for the time. It was a beautiful sunny day and I focused observations in the park, it was very enjoyable. It took about 4 minutes of sitting alone on a bench for someone to strike up a conversation with me. He was a friendly seeming man with a curious dog. We talked about the rubbish and how bad it was, but that it did feel as though people enjoying the previous sunny day in the park had at least tried to clear up after themselves, it was really the bins that were insufficient.
I went into an electrical goods shop and I thought I was alone as I wandered around alleyways of stacked white goods. At the end of one alleyway sat a staff member, she stayed seated throughout our conversation and gave me complex directions to a dishwasher I was interested in seeing. ‘Only scratch and dent… that means good as new, just not in the packaging, scratch and dent.’
In the window of a clothes alterations specialist, I enjoyed examining two, light blue, bejewelled, party dresses, with tutu skirts which I would have punched someone for when I was 7 years old A woman entered the shop and talked to the staff about mistakes that had been made with her benefits and how hard she was finding it to contact them, she said she was in trouble, she really didn’t know what she was going to do, they were b******* she said. I have directly heard many stories like this, she was distressed and she didn’t know I was there, It was a private conversation so I moved on.
We then took 10 minutes in the flat to write up everything we could remember of the silent observation. We used this raw material in a session Led by Dylan in the SURGE Space choosing six images or actions which we had observed and two images or actions of ourselves observing something specific. We set to work individually recreating and representing theses actions. I chose to show the blue dresses and feeling mesmerised, by the detail of the sparkling stone work; a young person, cross legged in the sun, on the hill in Victoria park and a selection of pedestrians also in the Park. I enjoyed the task of stringing them into a mimed sequence. We taught each other our sequences and worked them together into a longer chorus piece.
Dylan – smoking man, enjoying the sun as he crossed the street, a person, crossed legs biting their nails in citizen’s advice, a person attempting to pull up a grill, some one said “have you got a hammer or a chisel or something”
Paula – person placing a basket of fruit on stall in amongst other fruit outside a grocers, twisting the basket and moving a peach, an ambulance passing and being effected by the sound, a woman walking with high-heels, pigeons.
Vale – a man with a cigarette in his relaxed hand passing saying, ‘hiya, you enjoying yourself?’ a woman with a t-shirt reading Ciao Bella in large letters, children on their way to school, an old lady attempting to cross a busy street, un -able to see the traffic light and a waitress with her back to us, her image was silhouetted against a window, it was very beautiful.
Paula had less time to run the session she had prepared so we worked fast to create a physical scene representing/recreating a moment we had observed. I chose a conversation with M in had outside a café, Dylan used a large Perspex frame to good effect to create a bus stop with a child lying across the bench kicking their legs. Paula created a character with a large coat and hood up with many bags, the character appeared and disappeared behind pillars and objects, Valentina shared a hair cutting motif and a woman entering her car readying her self to start the engine and then having 2nd thoughts before taking a breath alone.
After lunch we played with the names of the shops on Victoria road. First we embodied the sounds, a Lecoq exercise, we then improvised using the shop names we had chosen to create interesting harmonies and rhythms.
The audience arrived at 4 and we were happy to see 7 guests had turned up. Giulia set the lights and we introduced the project, it felt like an event. We began with a free game of Charades depicting places on Victoria Road, we led this activity but were happy that one of the audience members also felt comfortable and brave enough to offer her own. It was children playing ‘bike chicken’ in Queen’s Park.
At an invisible cue the company all moved on to the performance area and began the more formal part of the sharing.
After the sharing the audience remarked that we had captured Victoria Road, it felt alive, they could see it. People commented that we morphed between places and characters very fluidly and that it was beautiful to watch. We were given advice to be wary of caricatures when representing those we would be showing it back to and one audience member responded to our question about what characters might fit into a street performance like the one we were building, she mentioned pigeons as the watchers of the street, observers, pariahs, underdog, those who can mimic, who are ever present. We are pigeons.
Thursday 27 June 2019
Morning: Senzas be blogging. Then: working on Victoria Road.
We first headed down Allison Street, which cuts across Victoria Road. We’d heard from several different people in the neighbourhood that this is the street they were warned about before moving to Govanhill, the street taxi drivers advise their customers to be careful on when dropping them off. It seems to have a bad reputation, which for those who live there is unfounded, but which still seems to make outsiders weary of it. We take it from the top, and do a little detour first to visit Libby Walker’s design shop, which sells different items with motifs inspired by the neighbourhood. On the wall are drawings of shop owners from Govanhill and surrounding areas portrayed with their businesses behind them. There are also cards, notebooks, tea-towels and tote-bags with shop fronts from the south-side of Glasgow on them, and curtains printed with drawings of extravagantly decorated shop windows and houses during “Window Wanderland”. The objects were joyful and celebratory of the area, and reflected a clear attachment to it and a desire to give it attention and pride of place. We somehow felt though that the different characters of the shop fronts, their at times unfashionable or old style signboards and shop windows were rendered in a slightly homogenising and slicker way than they appear in real life. Their portrayal through these objects looked gentrifying, in the sense that it made them all seem more cutting-edge designer-aware than they are. Later in the day we also went to visit the Rags to Riches shop which is linked to Govanhill Baths and which upcycles and recycles different materials into objects “Handmade in Govanhill”. There is so much creative activity in the neighbourhood, it definitely feels like an artists’ hub, and indeed questions surrounding gentrification through artistic presence were very much part of our discussions with different creatives living and working locally. (See below the photo of a note left by one of our workshop participants on Wednesday that also refers to questions of gentrification as part of change in the area brought about by the current construction of a cycle lane, an issue that was also brought up by the Swap Market artists on Tuesday afternoon).
At the top of the street there is a building site – it used to be a car factory and showroom, now they are building houses. Walking down Allison Street we noticed different messages that had been glued to street lamps, doors or walls, some fresh, some fading, all traces of different struggles to do with housing and the public space. “Property4U Criminally Negligent Rogue Landlords”; “Safety Code, Risk Lives”; posters with the number to join no evictions organising for those affected by Serco evictions of refugee families printed in English, Sorani Kurdish and Farsi. On bins, in pink: “People make Glasgow cleaner”. On a big billboard at Queen’s Park train station: “Calling all fashionistas, film buffs, coffee drinkers and commuters. Mag readers, telly watchers, pub-goers – you too. In fact, if you’ve ever had a thought or opinion about anything ever… We need you”. Further down, near the end of Victoria Road, close to the P. Lipton Memorial Centre we wrote about on the first day, another billboard had caught our eye a couple of days ago, the message reading: “Our funerals help fund good things like Co-op academy schools.”
When Allison Street meets Victoria Road we cross over and get vegan sausage rolls from Greggs – would have gotten 4 for the price of 3 if we had opted for meat ones. Continuing down the street, we notice the rubbish collection is visibly less attentive here compared to Victoria Road. The street is full of lively commerce. We get to Said’s, which still sells The Democrat and the Donegal Times on Fridays and Saturdays for the Irish residents of the community (later, while talking to Fatima from Govanhill Baths, she tells us that there are still buses running once a week from Victoria Road to Donegal). We go into another shop – “Vivo’s Usave open 24 hours newspapers top-ups pay point” – to buy an Irn Bru. The young man before us tells the elderly Pakistani owner sat behind the counter that he is bored – “why are you bored, you can’t be bored at your age!” He replies that he has just arrived from Greece and has no friends, tops up his phone and smiles at us and at the elderly man while leaving. The shop owner shows us his newspaper written in Urdu, but tells us he doesn’t sell any Urdu newspapers or any other newspapers coming from Pakistan – nobody would buy them, he just sells local newspapers in English. His son is studying law at university and is currently in China on an exchange – he will go to Finland next month, he tells Paula (who is Finnish). At the intersection with Cathcart the street gets dirtier – overflowing bins, an old mattress slumped against a building with an empty Buckfast bottle on top, a sofa turned upside down lie in the middle of the pavement. Then the street changes, the brick buildings typical also of Victoria Road turn into stand-alone two floor villas which all look the same. At the end of the street we can see the Hamden stadium where Pink was playing her concert on Sunday night when we arrived to Glasgow – we could make out some of the songs she was playing from Shona’s apartment on Victoria Road. This area near the stadium is much more industrial. We take another road back, and start feeling the heat, the first sunny day since we got here. An elderly lady is leaning on her villa’s small gate and smoking. We ask her where we are: Polmadie. We continue walking uphill a bit and then take Albert Road on our way back – this street has a completely different feel, with much posher looking houses (one had a sailing boat in its back yard, most had big gardens and a visual identity of their own – they were not built in a series).
We then split off and each proceeded to do observation work and writing in different parts of Victoria Road, some near coffee shops, others in or around Lidl, charity shops, some closer to the park, others stationed at bus stops. The Al Khair Foundation had plastic glasses with free water laid out on a table outside their shop for people to drink, “bloody temperature”, “it’s affy hot”, and other comments puffing out of people struggling with the heat and acknowledging it to each other. We then briefly went to check out Bike for Good who recently transferred in a larger space just off Vicky Road and that give biking lessons to adults for free. They didn’t think that it was fair for cycling to be associated with ‘hipsters’ or with gentrification – most people who come to their workshop to learn how to fix bikes or to learn how to cycle just wish to get around the city faster and for cheaper than with public transport.
At 4pm we had a meeting with Fatima at Govanhill Baths. She told us about the history of the struggle against the closing of the Baths, which lead to the longest occupation of a public building in UK history, 141 days, and to all the activities and organising that is still generating in the neighbourhood.
Wednesday 26 June 2019
There are many cats on Albert Street who seem to wander freely through the various tenement blocks and flats, hoping to be petted and thrown a snack. They have their own sense of the city and its boundaries, connecting public and private spaces in a way which many human citizens cannot. In a strange way, their roaming presence helps to bind a sense of "neighbourhood" or connection, even if that contact is lacking between human neighbours.
We led a workshop at the Cadogan space with two participants who are based in Glasgow but are not originally from there. E*** (an anthropologist from Germany) and D*** (a Lithuanian storyteller). After a group warm-up we work on memories of surprising/happy encounters, as well as of fearful memories in public space. This culminates in a structured improvisation where fragments of physical image tableaux and soundscape are combined and composed in the space. It is interesting to see how multiplicity and the seemingly infinite possible encounters within a city can be evoked theatrically through repetition, mirroring, counterpoint and leaving empty spaces.
After this we have a meeting with Melanie Jordan (performer, theatre facilitator, queer artist, physical theatre practitioner at SURGE) to discuss her experiences of Glasgow and the Scottish performance "scene". In particular we touch upon the Glasgow public's relationship with outdoor performance, and the participation/representation of marginalised LGBTQ+ communities in Glasgow. She says that "Category Is" bookshop in Govanhill is "the heart" of a vibrant and supportive scene, largely thanks to the massive amount of work the owners (Fi and Charlotte) have put into fostering a safe and invigorating environment. Mel moved to Scotland about 15 years ago (she has done all of her "adulting" in Scotland) and feels that in general it has a very open and welcoming attitude. Our interview is conducted in Mel's (Jordan&Skinner) office at the SURGE Cadogan building. It is full of bright and joyful feminist posters, as well as many toy/cuddly unicorns. She tells us these unicorns are part of a theatre project looking into "bronies" (adult men who are obsessed with My Little Ponies), using them as a means to explore social expectations surrounding performative gender and the supposed high/low culture divide.
After our chat with Mel we head across to the "Category Is" bookshop on Allison St. Here we find a relaxed community hub, with many alternative, political books/comics/posters/pamphlets/zines, as well as message boards for members of the LGBTQ+ community to meet, skillshare, rally, perform, hang out etc. On the counter is a load of binary and non-binary pronoun badges ("she/her", "he/him", "they/them" as well as "per/per", "vey/vem" and "zie/zim"). Also interesting to note is the recurrence of feminist-witchcraft imagery which we also encountered at the Glasgow Autonomous Space the day before.
Walking from the bookshop towards Vicky Road we bump into my friend Sita and her mates. They are on a break from making a show at the Tramway ("Them!": a sci-fi musical about identity politics), and are walking to the same place as us: Queens Cafe/Ginesi's Gelato for ice cream! It is now a roasting hot/taps aff day, so that makes sense.
As the rest of the gang get ice cream, I start to note down the names and descriptions/tag-lines of all the shops on the East side of Victoria Road. From "Glasgow Dentist [Pain Free Dentistry Guaranteed*]", up to "Kebabish Grill [the traditional desi experience. Est. since 2005. Welcome.]". The streets are packed now, with everyone out to enjoy the sunshine. Whilst making my notes I overhear many different languages on the road. Someone told me there are 42 different languages spoken in the Govanhill area. Also, seeing wee gangs of Roma kids playing tig up and down Victoria Road reminds me of the children on Lampedusa who seemed to enjoy free reign on the streets. There are many community-oriented shops and services, nestled-in amongst the charity shops, hardware shops, egg-free cake shops, halal subway, pawnbrokers, hipster coffee shops, off-licenses and pawnbrokers.
Next up is a meeting/mini seminar discussion at Milk Cafe. The subject matter is terminology: "New Scots" and "Third Culture Kids". How useful are these denominations? Do they resonate with people? The majority of the people at the discussion feel either ambivalent or negative about the terminology, voicing questions like: "what are Old Scots"? "are there only 3 cultures?" and
As with the Swap Shop which we visited yesterday, we are offered tea and cake free of charge. It seems like sharing food really fosters a positive communal atmosphere and eases conversation between strangers.
At the end of the day we walk through Queens Park to meet with friend, artist, activist and general force-for-good Geraldine Heaney. Whilst drinking juice with her beside the duckpond we catch up and discuss issues of accessibility in the arts, particularly the integration of BSL and (D/d)eaf artists into theatrical work. She has been spending the last week creating a children's piece at the Tron Theatre called "The Museum of Mistakes", and the group iintention for this show has been to make it as accessible as possible in as playful a manner as possible. Geraldine suggests that the next time we are on Victoria Road we should check out the bike hub and community centre which hosts weekly "bike days" for local kids to cycle around Queens Park together.
Same day, another version:
We head by train to the city centre, £2 return (more for a single) our mood is lifted by the sunny weather. This morning’s news articles about the heat wave say ‘Hell is Coming’ to southern central Europe.
We would be running a public workshop that morning and we worked through the plan which had been seeded on day 1, clarifying what we each were running and hearing Vale’s plan for the body of the session. We waited for participants, and the importance of thorough social media publicity for these things sinks in, again. T at GAS kindly shared the post as did SURGE and Senza but a targeted post on Monday would have certainly brought more participants.
2 very welcome participants joined us and were thoroughly involved and giving. E a German anthropology masters student who also operates in the world of performance, sound and circus and D a friend and colleague of mine who is a Lithuanian storyteller, it was a real pleasure to see her creativity out of the context I’m used to.
I enjoyed the way we passed leadership of the facilitation and am reminded what a skilled bunch we are. Vale led us in an almost meditative walking and reflection exercise which fed the content of our final workshop output. We worked in still images and sound-scapes marking before, during and after moments of pleasure and positive encounters in the city and moments of fear in the city.
After tea and biscuits and hearing more about E’s studies and D’s sharing of some Lithuanian stories which mash up folk and Christian imagery in beautiful and human ways we said goodbye to our participants.
We interviewed M, in front of a back drop of my little ponies which she told us are being used for a show about hierarchy of interests, and how we devalue those things which are considered interests of young females. I remembered some articles I enjoyed, written by an art historian who researches portraiture, and how pictures painted of mostly women are considered the highest art, e.g. Mona Lisa, but when the agency is taken by the sitter themselves in selfies is it considered vacuous and unimportant a waste. She argues if the selfie phenomenon was carried out by older, white men it would be held in very different regard to how it is currently being associated with young people and mostly women.
M was extremely eloquent and painted a hugely uplifting and for me moving picture of Glasgow and how arts are positioned with in it. She said It is grubby and direct, it celebrates non main stream art, there is a place for it all, it has engagement at it’s core. She told us Glasgow is open to street performance and that in every intervention in the public space she has been involved with in Glasgow, a member of the public will approach a performer and directly ask, ‘what’s going on here’ even if the performer is dressed as ‘a giant, who knows what’ or in the middle of an very non Quotidien movement sequence. I have experienced this too when telling stories in public, right int he middle with a captive audience someone with ask, so are you telling stories then?
M said, her work aims to overthrow the patriarchy at every turn.
We returned to the South Side after M’s interview to visit Category Is books, which M said is a hugely important space for the queer community in Glasgow, the physical space has been able to united more of community. It was buzzing when we arrived, the floor to ceiling window wide open, people chatting, buying, reading books and adverts written on pieces of colourful card.
I gave them a present of a print which I had bought in GAS the night before which said: Not Gay as in happy, Queer as in fuckup the Nazis. We were warmly welcomed by C. While we were there, E from the Swap Market passed with her son F who had written 2 short zines called Fusion. With the support of his mum he negotiated the price for their sale, £1 each and as he was under 14 years of age 100% of the profits went back to him. He was given a £10 note and bought a book for the train ride of his holiday. I bought one of the Fusion zines about how you can’t force fusion between alien beings, it has to be complicit or you make weird monsters – Garnet.
We spent an enjoyable moment there and arranged an interview on Sunday morning.
On the way to the ice cream shop, we bumped into Dy’s friends who were on a break from rehearsals of a show they are in at the Tramway. In the ice cream shop we bumped into A and L my friends who are local cooks and pillars of the Govan hill community. Outside the shop we bumped into T who was on her way home from work. I commented on how its funny we had all met like that and A said, that’s Govanhill, he had already told me to him, Govanhill is the best place in the world. The ice cream is top notch, the shop has been their since my Grans time, ‘it has all the gossip’ we were told.
We spent 30 mins on Victoria Road alone, each on our own projects. For me that meant catching up with A at Milk Café in the Sunshine, she asked if I wanted to marry her for her Irish passport, I’m tempted. As we sat outside Angela warmly greeted many people as they passed and we had an enjoyable chat with 2 young Irish folk, who were off to the park for beers and strawberries, the conversation moved easily between banter and huge thoughts on identity and nationality, I don’t know if it’s wrong to think, but I think they had the typical charm and charisma of the Irish.
We attended a discussion in Milk café titled, ‘Are you a Third Culture Kid’ which was considering this and the Term ‘New Scot’ which are apparently both used to describe people who have lived in Scotland but weren’t born here. I hadn’t been to many events like this that I can remember, and I enjoyed the experience of thinking as a group in this way. We had to wrap up quite quickly as the space is a busy busy place.
The evening we ate, salad joined G for a juice in the park, watched the signets and got eaten by midges. G talks about performing with BSL and how so often a deaf audience will have to catch up with what the hearing audience were communicated a moment before and how she is finding ways, with the characters she is playing now to subvert this.
Tuesday 25 June 2019
Glasgow means “dear green place”.
In front of Glasgow Central, while we were exiting Tantrums Doughnuts after getting coffee and, of course, home-made doughnuts, a friendly truck driver heard us speaking in foreign accents and gave us the can of Iron Brew he was keeping next to his driver’s seat. He then showed us a can of Iron Brew tattooed on his left biceps, and a bottle of Iron Brew tattooed on his right biceps: “Welcome to Scotland!” We didn’t get a chance to taste it yet, but it’s waiting for us in the fridge at Surge. We are told by Alan, Surge’s director, that it tastes like fizzy bubble gum.
In rehearsals Shona led a verbatim exercise on the topic of change in Victoria Road to reflect theatrically on the walk we did yesterday. We essentialised some of the actions that we were doing and that were happening around us (like the rain, sweeping rain out of shops, walking down the stairs are realising we were about to go into a very wet environment) into some more stylised movements. We then collected the following fresh memories from each other, and then played them as ourselves, as our partner, trying to remain very close to their ways of telling the stories verbally and to their ways of expressing themselves physically, and then we created new characters out of these little scripts:
1- They’ve, they’ve built a bicycle lane but they’ve, we’ll probably have to change our attitude to bikes because somebody died… they, she was our age and she got hit by a truck and she died on site and passed it on the bus. They put a white bike to mark it, someone put a white bike. I dunno em there are also, the area Victoria Road is on is on massive, it’s built on massive cave system or mines or something.
2- Just south of Victoria Road there was the battle field and now that’s become a park, and from the top of the park you can see the city… (chuckle) in the rain. And you can see a big building, a big pinky purple building that says “people make Glasgow”
3- On Victoria Road the weather was changing, there was this Biblical rain from triples… do you say triples? (laughs) Then it was raining again. There is a lot of construction on Victoria Road, the street is open. (pause) How has it changed? Shona told us a story about the queen and how Scotland had become with England. That was 300 years ago… 400 years ago? It happened at Queen’s Park where we went.
4- So when I went shopping at Lidl with Dylan I was really surprised that he accidentally met two different friends of his from uni in Edinburgh who now live here. So it must be/I can imagine that a lot of people our age live here or moved here recently. People around 30 years old. It must have changed the area. I mean it surprised me.
We then spent some time clarifying the questions we’d like to ask the people we are interviewing and people we meet along Victoria Road. Here are some central questions we feel might help open discussions about people’s concerns and hopes, and that might also help us understand how the area is lived:
After rehearsals we had an interview with Alan about his work with Surge and about doing theatre in the public sphere in Glasgow:
- We had prepared several questions for Alan, but he set off with some questions of his own for us: Who is your work for? What do you want to achieve and with whom?
- We talked about the issue of parachuting into communities to ‘make art’ and then leaving, and the harm this can cause, but then also how some ‘parachuting’ projects can have an incredible impact on communities. Alan gave us the example of a Chinese artist in Liverpool (he was based there for many years) who for the Biennial worked with the 6 different wards and in each identified with the community a building that was disused and that the community felt was disappointing for them. Some chose abandoned cinemas, old pubs, etc., and these buildings somehow represented important sites, pillars in a way of the community that had been left to decay. The artist then stuck enormous acupuncture needles through these buildings, and 10 years later almost all of them had been rehabilitated by the authorities and had almost all been restored to their original use.
- We also talked about the gentrification of Victoria Road, and gentrification in general and how artists contribute to it. Alan recommended we read “Welfare State International” by John Fox – this is an artist reflecting back on having worked in the same neighbourhood for 30 years and feeling like he failed because the area was then gentrified and the people he worked with were pushed out. What is it we are trying to leave when we go? Disappearing could be quite damaging. “People are sometimes very resistant to gentrification but sometimes wrongly, it could benefit the neighbourhood, the problem is that often regeneration completely alienates local people.” Example of hipster cafés serving a certain type of food, local people should be able to say this is not what we eat, this is the food we want. Also often the regeneration is not for the people who already live there – to improve their quality of life – but is for projects of expansion of the city centre, it’s to bring the people who work there in.
- Alan feels that performance in the public space is quite well received in Glasgow: the audience are open and curious, “the character of Glasgow is fairly open, if at times violently open”. But it’s important to always ask ourselves what the public space we intend to work in is usually used for – what do people usually do in these spaces, who uses the public space and how. Alan feels that at times in some ethnically diverse areas of Glasgow the public space is dead. George Square in the centre of Glasgow is also badly designed and really unused.
- Why work in the public space? For Alan it’s about getting people to reimagine the the space they live in. Reimagine, reconsider, make a more interesting environment, opening possibilities for things to be otherwise. In more recent decades this work has gained a new political importance because of the erosion and buying up of public space. Artists working in the public space are now also doing it to reclaim those spaces. The nibbling off of parks is happening a lot in Glasgow.
- Which space will we choose to perform and who are we performing for? Choosing a location is key: is it an already charged location? If we are exploring the themes of fear and change, do we choose a place that people are already fearful of? Like an immigration office? Or a place that is already charged with importance and meaning for some inhabitants, like a mosque or a church? Or would you rather try and identify a more ‘neutral’ space? An unused space, that doesn’t have anything big or symbolic attached to it, an empty shop perhaps. Does a neutral space exist in the city?
- Alan does not feel Glaswegian, at all: “there is a nationalist kind of thing, an unpleasant colloquialism like we’re better than everybody else, nationalism seen as a good thing here, that I do not share in any way”. He goes on: “here there’s a sort of …” (pause, clenches fist). “In Glasgow I would never do anything where the primary colours are green or blue – that’s just asking for trouble.” Or during the Scottish referendum for independence they were putting on a play about a completely different topic that was going to have “yes” and “no” banners, but they scrapped that idea because it was going to be read in the light of the referendum – the public debate was monopolising “yes” and “no”. Must be aware of local politics when working in the public space.
- What would you do if you won the lottery? Alan would take over an unused building and make a “creation space” in Glasgow’s city centre: a space to make public art that is artist lead, with multi-art forms, like they have in Marseille and Brest and in many other places.
We continued exploring the questions of gentrification and of art in the public space/with the community with the Swap Shop on Victoria Road and with GAS for the rest of the afternoon.
Monday 24 June 2019
Victoria Road, Glasgow
Our first day in Glasgow started with porridge, coffee and a promise of Biblical rain heard from the radio. Also from the radio, this joke:
-I watched a film last night with Sylvester… what’s his second name?
-Stallone? (pronounced: stilon?)
-No it’s finished
After our breakfast we headed to Surge to meet Mel (who works there) and start working. Surge is Scotland’s network for physical theatre, street art and circus, and we have a one-week residency with them in their office block space near Glasgow Central. Giulia joined us there, she will be filming our work over the next weeks as part of her master’s project in video journalism.
After warming up, Valentina led us through a few exercises for us to get to know the space and to get back to work as a group. After that each of us were given small pieces of paper in which we wrote one-minute answers to Valentina’s questions. This was for us to figure out what our goals as a group and as individuals are for this residency: our intentions. To answer the questions what, why and how.
Setting up intentions for our two weeks of work in Glasgow:
What are we doing here?
Intentions for the group
Intentions for yourself
What key question will drive our work?
We then go through our schedule for the week. We have a lot of meetings with different arts organisations and spaces, ‘hipster’ cafes, but not so many with local commerce and inhabitants so far. After lunch we went to the top of the Lighthouse Architecture and Design Museum to see the city from above – we spotted Victoria Road too.
Back to Victoria Road:
Biblical rain starts. Water leaks inside the shops from the street. When we pass by Milk café, one of the street’s hubs we are hoping to collaborate with, it is closed because completely flooded. The street is being resurfaced – a new cycle lane is being added, which we will learn is a welcome but complicated process – and as a result the shop floors are now lower than the street level. We resort to planning Wednesday’s workshop (which will be at Surge from 11:30 to 13:00) with a cup of coffee, hoping the rain will settle.
Shona then led us on a walk of Queen’s Park, which is at one end of Victoria Road, to then guide us up and down the road itself – the main site of our research theatre project. Images and thoughts from the wet walk:
Where does the name Glasgow come from?