Monday, 25 March 2013

Ignition @NTS

On the whole, my attitude towards cars has always been hypocritical. Not driving myself - I tend to live in big cities, which have overpriced public transport to get me about - I make a great deal of the negative impact of the automobile. It uses up natural resources. It is more dangerous than a gun. It pollutes the air, and the M74 hacked a path through Glasgow's Southside that will inhibit the quality of life of everyone in the area. 

When I was younger, I used to hitch up and down the country. Actually being in the pastoral parts of Scotland is a reminder that cars are probably quite useful, even necessary. Ignition, another fine NTS community engaged project, has nipped up to Shetland to "explore the bittersweet relationship with the automobile - how it shapes us, defines us, supports us, frees us, challenges our attitudes towards our dwindling resources and, sometimes, kills us." It ends this month with a multi-site, mobile performance bonanza.
Credit: Simon Murphy

Although I now have a good reading list of political playwrights - inspired by my usual ignorant ranting about politics, some suggestions have been made as to who might be worth considering before I make smart comments about the 1970s - Ignition  seems closer to the sort of political theatre that comforts my liberal timidity. It gets the entire community involved in the process (not just speaking through the fourth wall, but being fully inclusive). It has a few novelty turns that are almost Live Art (the hitchhiker in residence, dressed up as a folkloric figure). There is a theme tune (a composition by Hugh Nankivell, Da Road). Of course, there is some pakour (in Lerwick).

The approach here is considered, and appropriate for a national company. Wils Wilson (Director) and John Haswell (Associate Director) haven't just turned up in Shetland and decided that there is a single, important message about car use. They've spent time collecting stories about the role of the car in Shetland. Unlike Glaswegians, people in rural areas don't have First Bus to assuage their guilt about using polluting forms of transport (while overcharging for three stop trips).  And it all ends in a finale party.

It sits on that cusp of the personal and the political. It's very contemporary. And I am starting to think that the more direct forms of political theatre represented a bold, abrasive challenge that is being avoided in these modern formats.

If the NTS and Wilson are avoiding the more dogmatic attack of the past, they are responding to the more cautious mood of the times. Inclusion is seen as more important than confrontation, and truth is a matter of multiple perspectives. 

Brae -  20-23 March 2013; 7pm                        Meet at Brae Hall

Bigton - 26 & 27 March 2013; 7pm                   Meet at Bigton Hall

Yell -   29 March 2013; 7pm                               Meet at Cullivoe Hall

Finale - Brae  30 March 2013; 7pm                  Meet at Brae Hall

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