Sunday, 7 June 2009

Drowning in a sea of very tiny light bulbs

Ok. So picture this.

It’s five in the morning. You’ve been up for about 42 of the last 48 hours. In that time you’ve seen three spectacularly beautiful shows, one that passed you by in the moment but when you attempt to explain it to someone in two weeks time it will have become your favourite of the entire festival, an inadvisable comedy show with the soul destroying title ‘LOLacaust: The Musical’, a miniature encounter that made you cry in a good way, four pieces of paint-by-numbers devised theatre all of which involved a movement sequence to a Sufjan Stevens song and an outdoor show that would have been euphoric if it hadn’t been raining. You’re sitting in the corner of an overcrowded bar trying to hear the music over the raised voices around you. Big, exhausted thoughts chug lazily through your head, floating around aimlessly for a while before disappearing again. You are the fuzzy silence at the end of an old cassette tape.

Suddenly though, smuggled in amidst all the floatsam, is something different. An idea. A really, really good one. Though initially tiny it quickly expands, filling the inside of your head, bleeding out into everything you see around you. Now you're no longer gazing vacantly off into space, you're frantic - scrambling to find a pen and a piece of paper and somehow anchor it down before it disappears.

So there it is. An a fragile, wonderful idea caught in a series of frantic scribbles on the back of somebody else's programme. Brilliant. And then what?

Well, traditionally not a lot in Edinburgh. Edinburgh is a place for showing not for making. For all that it is crammed to the point of delirium with spaces for putting on shows, there’s virtually nowhere to actually create something, to try anything out – in public or in private.

To me that just feels like such a crushing waste. Here is a city overflowing with potential collaborators, with supportive, generous producers and critics and audiences, with unusual spaces. With brilliant people doing nothing all day other than handing out flyers and sitting in their flats watching episodes of the Wire to try and avoid spending any more money. This bizarre month of excitement and inertia could (should) be the perfect environment for not only having a good idea but for pinning it down, for allowing it to take its first steps.

When BAC first created the One o clock Scratch back in 2005 it was a revelation. An opportunity for artists at the festival to try out a new project in front of an audience. The TEAM, Third Angel, Rabbit and dozens more created work there that blossomed into a whole family of brilliantly diverse, successful pieces. When it returned to the festival last year at Forest Fringe you could again feel the giddy excitement of the artists given this space and the audience who would have the opportunity to see what came out of it.

For us at Forest Fringe, that model (and the collective excitement generated from it) continues to be an inspiration. We want to provide more space and more time than ever before for new ideas to prosper.

We’re devoting a whole day at the end of the August to things dreamt up in bars and on walks and in conversations over the course of the festival. But more than that, we’ve tried to encourage a whole host of diverse opportunities for artists at Forest Fringe to explore a new idea – whatever form that idea might take. And so we have platforms in which a new idea can become an interactive experience, or a brief one-on-one encounter or piece of new writing. Hopefully almost anything, no matter how strange, will find the right space in which to happen. Because its often not just about providing a space and a platform, but ensuring that its the right way for an idea to be realised.

We're hoping that some, many even, of these small sparks will end up growing into full projects that come back to Forest Fringe next year. Or maybe they will have found their perfect incarnation first time around. Either way I'm excited to be able to say that I have no idea what what's going to happen.


Places for new ideas at Fores Fringe this summer:

The Miniaturists
24 & 25 August

Stephen Sharkey and Glynn Cannon programme a series of brilliantly diverse pieces of new writing, all of which have to be less than 20 minutes long. A celebration of the fact that even the smallest piece of written can deserve realising with all the effort and creativity of a full play.

Hide&Seek Sandpit
26 August

The brilliant people behind the Hide&Seek festival will be bringing their unique brand of social games & playful experiences to Forest Fringe. Strange interactive experiences scattered across the building and disappearing out into the streets around it.

BAC One o Clock Scratch
22 & 29 August

BAC’s legendary fringe forum for new ideas. See up to five different artists trying out 10-minute skits of brand new ideas. The birthplace of work by The TEAM, Third Angel and Rabbit amongst many others.

Stoke Newington International Airport’s Live Art Speed Dating
26 August

The boys from STK International, East London’s newest and bestest venue, are going to be filling the building with brand new 4 minute one-on-one encounters by some of the most exciting artists at the festival. See as many as you can.

BAC Nuit Blanche
24 August (Scratch Sharing the next morning)

BAC will be offering artists a chance to take part in a unique all-night residency at Forest Fringe, hoping that the peace, quiet and delirious creativity of the middle of the night will mean that there will be something memorable to see by morning. Artists interested can send ideas and pitches to lauram[at], using the subject line Nuit Blanche and anyone can come for breakfast and a sunrise Scratch sharing, followed by a group walk up Arthur's Seat.

Forest Fringe’s Great Unknown
29 August

Following BAC’s One o Clock Scratch the rest of the day has been left totally empty – to be programmed according to whatever absurd and brilliant ideas people come up with over the course of the festival. Just drop into the Forest at any point and tell us your ideas.

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