Friday, 14 November 2014

Fatherland @ The Arches

It's tempting to describe any Nic Green performance as an event: after her Trilogy became a shining example of a new wave of feminist theatre that has emerged in the past five years, her influence on theatre in Glasgow - specifically on performance that tends towards live art - has been huge. Feminism, and redefining female nudity on stage, have been defining issues for much work that has come from the Royal Conservatoire, Green's alma mater and her approach, combining down-to-earth observations and an expansive, environment focussed philosophy is distinctive and accessible.

Certainly, this one-off presentation of Fatherland has attracted a large crowd and the enthusiastic applause reflects Green's popularity. 

However. Green does not seem to be chasing the grand statements that marked TrilogyFatherland is far more intimate, and short. With only a drum beat for backing - and a bagpipe solo in the finale - Green is alone on stage, in circle, reflecting on a single meeting with her biological father. She develops her fleeting memory of this experience into a wider meditation on Scotland (via a Scottish fling dance) as a fatherland, and evokes masculinity's tropes through a very smart suit and the chanting of the audience.

Green adapts the movements of the fling to her own body, building towards a finale that celebrates its energy power (arms held aloft, like The Monarch of the Glen's horns). Whether Green is evoking Scotland's landscape to become her father, or recognising that it has nurtured her as an artist in the way a father shapes a child, Fatherland  is a personal ritual, an artist testing what masculinity means for her - she removes the suit gradually, finding freedom from the constriction of shirt and trousers - and suggesting meaning in the traditional Scottish elements of dance and the whisky (free to the audience). 

The format, ironically, shies away from the big event or statement. Like Ron Athey, she confounds expectation and offers allusive references to grand ideas without settling on fixed meanings. For all the enthusiasm of the audience, it is an introduction to a conversation (designed to fit perfectly within a festival, short and pithy), to engage with other works, other ideas, a starting point rather than a conclusion.

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