Sunday, 27 July 2014

Cathartic Connections in 2011

Physical Theatre: Not Just For August
originally PUBLISHED in the shimmy 05 AUGUST 2011
It may have an international reach, but the Fringe does have the odd Scottish company. Cathartic Connections are a young team, bravely entering the Edinburgh arena with a physical, politically engaged show, Remembering Annabel. Andrew Simpson explains how he hopes that the tourists can be reminded that theatre is in Scotland all twelve months of the year.
What inspired you to set up your own company?
Cathartic Connections was formed by Andrew Henry in early 2010 for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2010. The company was started with the aim of creating theatre that has real social relevance; that questions the ideologies of our time and how these effect our lives. We wanted to combine our love of storytelling and entertainment with a way to express our dissatisfaction with some of the decisions made in our name. What better way to contribute to debate, the forming of our society and express your own views than creating a story and characters that express those views and ask those questions?
Why the Fringe, isn't that a high risk?
As a young Edinburgh based company trying to juggle university, part-time work, the company and our own increasingly non existent social lives the Fringe is one of the most accessible ways to create a piece of theatre for an audience. Thousands of people flood to Edinburgh for the Fringe every year and this gives us a huge potential audience of people interested in the arts and theatre. Also the excitement and buzz of the Fringe is incredible; the feeling of really being part of something much bigger than yourself drives us all to push ourselves further and further.
How do you find the theatre scene in Edinburgh outside of the Fringe?
I think there's a really vibrant and diverse mix in Edinburgh. The Traverse and Lyceum theatres regularly produce new high quality work but even smaller fringe and student companies from the various universities around Edinburgh contribute to the mix with innovative work that really highlights the wealth of creativity and talent bubbling underneath the surface.
What inspired the subject of this Remembering Annabel?
We always aim to create stories that have a real significance and relationship to current events and the politics of our time. The film "Inside Job" about the global financial crisis and the unrestrained greed and political paralysis that went with it was a big influence in the creation of the show. We're living in a time of intense political and social unrest; our failed economic and political systems have led us into a shameful and corrupt mess and forced us into lives we don't agree with and into making decisions we shouldn't have to and don't want to make.

Remembering Annabel asks about the choices we have in life; do we choose between Labour or the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats; "austerity measures" or "bankruptcy"; our dreams or our reality? Are we stuck in our situation and must we just accept it? Or can we like millions of the poorest and most vulnerable around UK and Europe confronted with binary choices between bad and worse take the hidden third option and just say "No!".
Why do you feel that theatre is a good place for political discussion?
Theatre allows you direct contact with your audience; you can create lively debate and discussion with people in the same room as you; the same space. You're not trying to convince people of something on the other side of the world but people you can directly relate to in a dynamic, exciting way. Theatre is an incredibly imaginative and stimulating experience for both performers and audience; we can entertain whilst addressing serious pressing issues.
How do you feel these conversations can be continued outside of the theatre itself?
I think the show can inspire people to question the choices we all make everyday and the effects these have on our lives. The show is essentially about empowerment, idealism and finding the strength of will to reject the status quo if it's rotted to the core. People can question how much of what they do they actually agree with and ask "Can I change this?". Is our political/economic system representing me? Am I happy with the it? Am I happy with my life? My job? My clothes/food/home/friends/family? People will leave empowered and inspired.

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