Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Gary McNair - an old interview

Gary McNair  emerged from the loose movement that I decided to call the Glasgow Live Art Young Team and has achieved considerable success over the past few years. Not that his work has suddenly gone all Coldplay: he is currently touring a one man show that involves scads of real money getting torn up, live on stage.

However, I found this old interview with him - done when he had just won the Platform 18 Award from The Arches. We did it over Facebook, I seem to remember. So that makes him a theatre maker who uses radical approaches, and me a critic ready to adapt the latest social media to my discipline.

The Apocalypse! Interesting theme for a piece... what made you pick on this as an idea?

I guess it's something that I've always been interested in. I think the idea is something that we all have a relationship to, but the strange thing about it is that obviously, no-one has ever experienced an apocalypse.

It's more that we have an idea of it, whether that's informed by science, religion, Hollywood or whatever. It's unknown. I always take a particular interest in things that I don't understand, and the biggest thing that I don't understand is our time on earth and how that might come to an end. So many books and films fictionalise the subject. What I wanted to do more than to spread fear, like some blockbusters do, is to give a personal response.

Any particular theories about the end times that attract- or repel- you?

It would be pretty ridiculous if we blew ourselves up. Worryingly, that seems quite high in the list of possibilities.

How does this piece fit with Crunch?

I guess, in a way, Crunch was dealing with similar issues, in that it was imagining a world after one of our biggest structures had collapsed - a sort of financial armageddon. After the world has ended, what use will money be? In that sort of society, if I want your shoes, I'll fight you for them.

It is a big big topic- have you expanded your stage show to fit it, or are you remaining solo and intimate?

I did consider reconstructing the battle scene from Apocalypto, but intimacy won out for many reasons. It's very much a personal response to the idea of apocalypse, rather than creating an apocalyptic scene for you to inhabit. I often find that when I go to a performance and people try to convince me that the world has ended, I can't buy into it. I know that I'll walk back outside afterwards and everything will be the same as it was.

What do you think makes people obsess about the end of things?

People work well to a deadline. Sometimes, I think that we need to imagine that the world is hurtling towards some sort of final conclusion just so that we get things done. Plus, I think that we want to imagine that we are the most sophisticated version of ourselves, and as a result, we will be the last beings to inhabit the earth. It's a lot to do with ego.

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