Tuesday, 26 August 2014

The Glasgow School: artists reply iii: Louise Quinn

photo credit: tommy ga ken wan
It is clearly not enough for A Band Called Quinn to have completed a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe - and getting an enthusiastic review from The List's wonderful Lorna Irvine (a member of the Justice League of Critics and, therefore, to be trusted implicitly). Reworking a play about the oppressions of the theatre industry as a rumination on the inherent tyranny of the pop music machine was clearly too easy as well: Louise Quinn had time to respond to my questions about Glasgow performance that is a reminder of how involved the band have been in the inclusion of rock'n'roll on the stage.

Are there any aspects of your own work or practice that you feel are defined by Glasgow? If so, what are they and how would you describe Glasgow's influence?

I think the dark humour present in our work is definitely influenced by living & growing up in Glasgow. Fifteen years working for the late, great Ian Smith of Glasgow based surrealist interventionist company Mischief La bas has had a huge influence on our work. 

As this work goes on, there is going to be much consideration of Mr Smith's contribution. Thank you, Louise for being the first to mention him... given the sort of antics Mischief got up to, I ought to ask which costumes you ended up wearing....

Working for Mischief informed the creation of Club Tromolo; a night of wonky cabaret with a host of surreal characters including Jazz Badger (a badger playing Jazz) & The Govan Seer (a psychic from Govan). Diane Torr was a regular at Club Tromolo & we were introduced to Diane through her involvement with Mischief La bas. 

I used to go to Club Tromolo, and love it: I went because I had heard Diane Torr was involved, but after a night of fun  - including a set from the band and loads of mad antics - I was grumpy because I seemed to have missed Torr's act. Years later, when I became a critic, I got a picture of Torr as a male character, and realised that I had not missed the act but had been completely fooled by her male impersonation. Then I saw her do the banana dance in The Old Hairdresser's venue and my art crush was full blown...
Our 'training' with Mischief La bas also informed our music video collaborations with Uisdean Murray & the culmination of all the strands of our work in recent multimedia performance Biding Time (remix). Ian was a 'doer', not just a talker & we definitely inherited his 'just do it' attitude towards performance & creation.

Can you name any other Glasgow-based artists with whom you feel an affinity? What shared characteristics do you have with them?

I feel an affinity with Vanishing Point with whom we worked with on The Beggar's Opera. I think Vanishing Point are also greatly influenced by many cultural spheres outside of theatre & performance & strive to break theatre conventions. I also feel an affinity with the work of Eilidh Macaskill of Fish & Game, as a fellow female theatre maker & someone who is pushing the boundaries of what theatre & performance can be & finding different ways of engaging audiences.

If you had to describe Glaswegian performance in three sentences, or phrases, or even words... what would these be?

DIY, irreverent & self-effacing.

Are there any events or festivals throughout the year that you would say are influential in developing particular sorts of work? This could apply to both theatre and non-theatrical events.

Arches Live, Behaviour, Sonica, Glasgow Film festival...

This mix is what I am talking about: bit of music, bit of film, bit of theatre. 

How would you describe your own practice (as an artist or participant in the arts in whatever form)?

Multimedia meltdown...

Do you have any further thoughts on the relationship of the performance arts and Glasgow?

I think Glasgow has always been cooler, darker & edgier than most places. It knows itself & as a result has a self confidence & belief that can produce work with great swagger & down right cheekiness as well as having a big daft heart.

This is brilliant stuff: not only does it help me in my process, it provides a really good introduction to what A Band Called Quinn are doing. 'Work with great swagger and down right cheekiness' could describe Biding Time - although I hope that the 'big daft heart' wasn't what the rabbit was cooking at the end of the show....

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