Magnetic North Blog

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Beware geeks bearing gifts

Erewhon, New Zealand playwright Arthur Meek’s collaboration with Edinburgh’s own Magnetic North, will have its UK premiere at Summerhall from 1 August.  The new multi-media play brings together technologies separated by a century in a very contemporary investigation of our relationship with artificial intelligence and machines.  

Adapted from Victorian science fiction novel Erewhon by Samuel Butler, Erewhon premiered at Christchurch Arts Festival in 2017. This imaginative production shines new light on Samuel Butler’s satirical novel about Victorian society. Published in 1872, Butler's fictional account tells the story of a young colonial British explorer who discovers a remote community living in New Zealand’s Southern Alps. They’re the descendants of a technologically-advanced culture that had to destroy all their machinery after it became artificially intelligent and malicious. What first appears to be a utopia - where happiness is paramount, and machinery and inventions are forbidden - soon turns out to be a society filled with hypocrisies and blind-spots just as severe as any other.

Read the full Erewhon media release (PDF).

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Seeking New Board Members for Magnetic North

Magnetic North is seeking new members to join our small but committed Board of Directors.

Based in Edinburgh, Magnetic North produces and tours theatre and runs a programme of artist development and support. Our work integrates artist development with production in a five part programme: 1. Rough Mix, 2. Re-Mix, 3. Make, 4. Space/Time, 5. Support.

We are looking for people who are keen to become active and energetic champions for Magnetic North. We are interested in hearing from people with all relevant experience including that gained in a volunteering or personal capacity. This may be your first role as a trustee, or you may have current or previous board experience. Magnetic North aims for its Board members to reflect the diverse communities of Scotland; we want to hear from a wide range of individuals and are particularly keen to hear from BAME candidates.

For more information and to apply please read this information sheet.

Deadline for applications is Monday 18 June 2018.

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Work with us! Artistic Administrator

Magnetic North’s work integrates producing and touring theatre with artist development and support. With new Regular Funding from Creative Scotland, we are looking to appoint an Artistic Administrator working on a 40% contract (average of 2 days a week, working flexibly according to programme requirements) for an initial 12 month contract. The Artistic Administrator post will particularly focus on the artist development and support element of our work, as well as assisting the Producer and Artistic Director across the whole of the company’s output.

Salary: £25,000 per annum pro-rata
Contract: Initial 12 month contract, with the potential for extension
Hours: 0.4 fte (2 days/week at 8 hours/day)

Please download this pdf document for more information and to apply.

 

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New Zealand Playwright Exchange – Year 2

Magnetic North, Playwrights' Studio, Scotland and Playmarket New Zealand are delighted to announce that playwright, theatre-maker, actor and musician Morna Young has been selected for the second year of an international exchange between the two countries.

Funded jointly by Creative Scotland and Creative New Zealand, the residency is the reciprocal stage of a playwright exchange between Scotland and New Zealand.

Morna will be hosted as a Playwright-in-Residence by BATS Theatre and Toi Põneke Arts Centre in Wellington, New Zealand. The companies will commission a full-length play from Morna and accommodate her for 12 weeks to write in their organisations. During the residency, Morna will also take part in Magnetic North’s first Rough Mix in New Zealand as well as a one-week writing residency at Strathean Retreat in Te Horo with Playmarket New Zealand.

Inspired by the traditions of Scottish and Mãori cultures, Morna’s play will be an exploration of our human connection to the elements, of landscape memory and emigrated culture. Following on from successful Scotland-wide tours of her plays Neverland and Netting, this opportunity will allow Morna to develop her writing through collaboration with international arts organisations and individuals. As Morna says, “In a time where borders and national identities are becoming trickier and more restrictive, the chance to embrace international exchange feels vital and poignant.”

The exchange builds on a hugely successful pilot in 2016, where New Zealand playwright Arthur Meek was Writer-in-Residence with Magnetic North. The resulting play, Erewhon, was subsequently co-produced by Magnetic North and Christchurch Festival in 2017.

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New insights into creative approaches

Last month, five artists went on our creative retreat called Space/Time in Dumfries & Galloway. One of them, sculptor and visual artist Gillian Brent, reflects on her experience:

I am a sculptor and visual artist with a studio practice and a socially engaged, participatory practice. I am based in Sheffield with a studio at Yorkshire Artspace. I have exhibited around the UK and been commissioned for many public artworks, mostly with consultation and creative input from local communities and organisations in areas of social disadvantage.

Since 2009 I have been working mainly as an artist within art gallery learning programmes in contemporary public art galleries in Nottingham, Sheffield and Yorkshire. I have been developing and facilitating workshops, resources and long term projects and research programmes that engage diverse audiences with exhibitions and collections, and encourage discussion and creative responses in a variety of media. 

Space/Time came at a perfect time for me. Between January to July 2018, I am taking an unpaid six-month sabbatical from working with the galleries where I work on a regular basis, to focus on re-connecting with my studio practice and consider new ways to disseminate my work. My studio practice had become sidelined and I was missing the process of following my own lines of enquiry and making work without the restraints of facilitating others. I was also feeling burnt out by the pressure of constantly responding creatively to other people’s briefs, timescales and agendas.

From the series The Dilemma of the Non-ephemeral Artefact (What are we going to do with all this stuff?).

The retreat gave me the opportunity through the discussions to think through some of my sometimes conflicting positions about being an artist as producer and artist as facilitator and animateur. It was very interesting to find that the other artists attending the Space/Time retreat, although working in other creative disciplines, had worries, issues and barriers that were very similar to ones I have. We were able to share experiences, get new insights into creative approaches and give practical support to each other. The sessions were very deftly facilitated by Alice and Nick to give everyone a chance to ponder on the questions that were concerning us, deconstruct specific situations and consider how to make positive changes.

I found it particularly inspiring to share my work with the group and to get genuine feedback about my ideas and recent sculpture. From this I am now taking forward new ideas of ways to disseminate them and am hoping to collaborate with one of the participants as part of this.

I also gained some useful practical advice about how to manage my various areas of work so that I don’t get into the same situation of burnout and lack of balance again.

Space/Time was a very positive experience; although it didn’t provide concrete answers to all the issues I am facing, it gave me the opportunity to reflect in a supported environment and to feel much stronger about working towards making changes.

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