Wed 6 May 2015
This weekend at Behaviour Festival, Forest Fringe co-director Andy Field and his almost-as-tall-as-him collaborators from Blackfriars Primary School present Lookout. The piece- which is completely free and takes place at Ruchill Park- takes the form of an intimate one-on-one encounter between an adult and a young performer. Together they look out across the city and imagine what the future will look like.
We caught up with Andy to see what’s on the horizon…
Tell us about the children you collaborated with on Lookout -what was it like working with them, and what did you both learn from the experience?
I’m working with eleven children from a primary school in the Gorbals. They are great. They are all enthusiasm and ideas and barely containable energy. They are funny without being arch. Smart without being cynical. They are almost all as tall as me. They are real actual people and they were born in the same year that the third Austin Powers film was released. I have learnt a little about what it feels like to grow up in a world where the internet has always been a thing and everyone has a mobile phone. They have learnt that not everyone used to have a mobile phone. They are incredulous about this.
It’s a well-worn phrase – ‘children are our future’ – but it is, in many ways, absolutely true. What concerns do you have for the future, and how did your concerns differ from those of the children you worked with?
I feel very ambivalent about the future. I understand that despite what it may feel like in many ways things continue to get better whilst others continue to get worse. I feel a kind of deep, ongoing terror about the impact of climate change and yet I find it hard to really imagine how the world might be fundamentally different. I am aware of how much I don’t know. In part that’s why I wanted to do this project – I wanted to hear about the future from people who were very unlike me, people who have a different understanding of what and when the future is. It turns out a lot of the things I think of as frightening they, for now at least, think of as very exciting.
Leading on from that, does the ‘future’ we live in now resemble the one you imagined while growing up?
I have no memory of what I thought the future would look like growing up. I could talk about flying cars and hover boards and jet packs and other things we imagined would float in the future but I think I always understood those as things in films and not actual things that I thought would exist in the future. I think I probably spent much more time thinking about what I would be like in the future, than what the future itself would be like, because thinking about yourself is something you do a lot when you are younger – you are trying to figure yourself out. I wanted to look like Chesney Hawkes’ bassist and be a 400m runner like Roger Black.
Lookout is a one-on-one performance – what challenges are there in putting together such an intimate piece, compared to a full staged production?
I think it’s often much more discursive, which is another way of saying that you don’t make much art – you mainly make the space for a conversation and for the audience to create something or think something for themselves. So much of this kind of thing happens in the audience’s head and in the interaction they have with a performer or with an environment. You’re asking a lot of an audience member and it can feel a little frightening sometimes. Sometimes you just want to make something beautiful that has people air-punching by the finale. But I hope that this in its own way has as powerful an impact, if a completely different one.
Can you give us any hints, spoilers or teasers for what’s in store at Forest Fringe this year?
I can give you more than teasers. I can give you a list of all these awesome artists. And there is more still to be announced. It’s going to be well good.
You’ve won more than a few awards for your work, including sharing a Fringe First with the Arches in 2009. How important are arts awards, festivals and showcases like Forest Fringe and Behaviour for both audiences and artists?
I think festivals are really important. I think any performance is better when it’s part of a wider conversation. When you’re thinking about this show in relation to that show, when you’re making unexpected connections between one experience and another. This to me is when performance starts to feel like an actual part of the way we think and the way we live rather than something that happens on a quiet evening in a half full venue that you only went to because you felt like you ought to. For audiences and artists alike everyone wants to feel part of something, part of a movement or a community. I think festivals are a place where that can happen.
The site for Lookout is Ruchill Park – had you been there before, and was there any significance to the location?
We wanted somewhere high up, overlooking the city. Somewhere from which the city could be looked at and thought about. We looked at a whole bunch of spaces, both inside and out, and in the end Ruchill Park seemed like the right one. We liked that it was a public park, a place that feels like it belongs to everyone. Also it’s quiet and the view is amazing.
What other projects have you got coming up in 2015?
In a few weeks time I’m doing a project in Staffordshire as part of the New Vic’s Hoard Festival. We’re recruiting 500 local people to perform it, each telling a very short story about something happening somewhere in the world at a single moment in time. Then later in the summer we’re taking Forest Fringe to three different cities in China, to see what the future is going to look like close up. Then Latitude Festival, then Edinburgh. Then I don’t know. I’d quite like to go to the Lake District. I was thinking that on the train up to Glasgow yesterday. I was thinking that it’d be lovely to go for a walk around the Lake District. And then I realised the future had arrived and I hadn’t become Roger Black or Chesney Hawkes’ bassist, I’d become my Dad.
Part of Behaviour Festival