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Introducing a new member of the Magnetic North team

Caitlin Fairlie started as our new Artistic Administrator back in September. Over to Caitlin to introduce herself:

My name is Caitlin Fairlie and I am producer based in Glasgow. I graduated from the Contemporary Performance practice programme at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in July 2018 where I specialised in creative producing practises in my third and fourth year. When I graduated I co-founded a producing collective called POWERHAUS with my collaborator Laura Fisher. POWERHAUS offers artistic and producer support to femxle, femme and non-binary artists that would consider themselves to be early career. I also work for The Sick of the Fringe as a project producer for FK Alexander and as a facilitator working with young people across various contexts.

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Apply now for Space/Time retreat March 2020

Applications are now being accepted for our next Space/Time retreat, which will take place in Findhorn, Moray from 10-15 March 2020. 

Space/Time is part of Magnetic North’s Artist Development programme and is a creative retreat for experienced artists from all art forms which asks the question “How does an artist keep developing?”

 The residency aims to refresh participants through a stimulating examination of creativity. During the residency, we will question what creativity is, how it can be nourished and explore how artists can continue to challenge themselves to develop.

Led by Nicholas Bone and Alice McGrath, Space/Time combines facilitated dialogue - built around a series of self-generated questions - with time for individual reflection. Cooking and eating together is an important part of the residency.

This Space/Time retreat is presented in partnership with Dance North Scotland and will take place at Findhorn, Moray.

You should consider applying for Space/Time if you:

  • feel the need to reflect on your creative practice in a supportive atmosphere
  • have been working as a professional artist for at least seven years
  • have questions about how to balance the pressures of work and life
  • want to talk with others in a similar position
  • need time for individual reflection and thought.

It is hard to describe exactly what happens at Space/Time, but watching this short film may help: https://www.magneticnorth.org.uk/space-time

Participants are paid a fee of £500 for attendance, we also pay travel expenses within Scotland. Food and accommodation is provided - food is vegetarian, in line with our Carbon Management Policy.

Find out more on the Space/Time page of our website here.

Photograph by Eoin Carey, taken at Cove Park in October 2018.

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Rough Mix 2020 - Artists

Magnetic North is delighted to announce the artists who will be creating work as part of the 11th edition of Rough Mix, Magnetic North’s creative lab where a group of artists try out some new ideas and new ways of working. Rough Mix 2020 is a partnership between Magnetic North, Puppet Animation Scotland and Casteliers Festival (Montréal) and will take place at Summerhall in Edinburgh from 20 – 31 January 2020. There will be a sharing of work in progress on Fri 31 January 2020 at 6pm, at the start of Puppet Animation Scotland’s Manipulate Visual Theatre Festival.

Rough Mix brings together five experienced artists, two early career artists and an ensemble of six performers. The five experienced artists all bring an idea for a new work to Rough Mix which they will develop in the course of the fortnight. Rough Mix is facilitated and curated by Magnetic North’s Artistic Director, Nicholas Bone.

Rough Mix 2020 incorporates the Scotland-Québec Puppetry Exchange, supported by the British Council and the Gouvernement de Québec. A Scottish and a Québécois puppeteer are both participating in Rough Mix and these two artists will also spend some time working at the Maison Internationale des Marionettes in Montréal and present work in progress as part of the Casteliers Festival.  

The Québécoise puppeteer is Flavia Hevia who was raised in Mexico City and now lives in Montréal. Her practice has developed from visual art through lighting design and scenography to her current focus on puppetry. Flavia’s set and lighting designs include the multi-award winning LEO, a physical theatre show that has been presented over 950 times in more than 35 countries; the set design for Traces, an original circus work from Montreal’s The 7 Fingers, named by Time Magazine as one of the 10 best shows of the year; and the lighting design for the opera Tosca, presented in the Palace of the Fine Arts in Mexico City. She is currently working on a new project, Our Tales - Exploring the memories of immigrant women which aims to capture vital memories held by immigrant women of their homelands and to recreate them using Stop Motion Animation.

 

The Scottish puppeteer, Gavin Glover, specialises in contemporary puppetry and micro cinema theatre. He has developed his own distinctive style of work in both visual and text based performance as performer, director and designer. Gavin originally trained at The Little Angel Theatre in London. He went on to co-found Faulty Optic theatre of animation whose dark and surreal adult puppet shows toured around the globe from 1988 - 2011. Gavin worked with Magnetic North on our recent production of Lost in Music, and other recent collaborations and commissions include: A Christmas Carol and Tin Forest for National Theatre Scotland, Feverdream and Cyrano for the Citizens Theatre and Ulysses for Dublin’s Abbey Theatre.

There are three more experienced artists participating in Rough Mix 2020:

Jenna Watt is the current recipient of Magnetic North’s Artist Attachment. She is using the Attachment to research a new piece about rewilding in Scotland. An award winning Scottish theatre maker, her works include Faslane; winner of a Scotsman Fringe First and Summerhall Lustrum Award 2016 (Contact Manchester, Showroom) How You Gonna Live Your Dash (Showroom / Platform Easterhouse), Scotsman Fringe First award winning Flâneurs (Summerhall).  Directing and other credits include Tetra-Decathlon by Lauren Hendry, LipSync by Cumbernauld Theatre, Our Fathers by Rob Drummond & Magnetic North, Remote by Stef Smith, Money the Gameshow by Clare Duffy & Unlimited Theatre, 27 by Abi Morgan & National Theatre of Scotland and Chekhov Shorts with Lung Ha Theatre Company.

Greg Sinclair is a performance artist, cellist and composer. He is the recipient of a Children’s Theatre Fellowship from The Arts Foundation. His most recent performance, Lots and Not Lots, was performed by 11 young people as part of National Theatre of Scotland’s Futureproof festival. In 2018 he toured his show Animals across Scotland, while As the Crow Flies (2016) was a large-scale multimedia performance featuring young people from Scotland and Belgium. Greg also composes music for theatre and performs in other companies’ work. Recently he has worked with Solar Bear, Ellie Griffiths, Independent Arts Projects, Curious Seed and Starcatchers.

Uther Dean is a Wellington-born, Auckland-based New Zealand writer, story-teller, comedian, poet and theatre-maker. He is participating in Rough Mix 2020 as part of the ongoing New Zealand/Scotland playwright exchange programme, managed by Playmarket New Zealand, Playwrights’ Studio Scotland and Magnetic North. Uther co-founded New Zealand’s award-winning, critically-acclaimed theatre company My Accomplice with Dr Hannah Banks and Paul Waggott, writing and directing the bulk of the company’s work. He has also written for TV, radio and podcast as well as writing and performing a number of story-telling pieces including the award-winning Everything is Surrounded by Water.

Early Career Artists

Kolbrún Björt Sigfúsdóttir is a playwright, director and dramaturg. Her spoken word performance (Can This Be) Home won the New Territories Award at Prague Fringe 2018 before a Scottish and a short Edinburgh Fringe run.  Her latest play Kit Kat was commissioned by the Traverse Theatre as one of their Breakfast Plays for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2019 and broadcast on the BBC World Service. Previous work includes multi-award winning adaptations Richard III (a one-woman show) and Hamlet (an experience) as well as original plays Bitter Sweet and Chet Baker, Love (Brite Theater).

Rachel Drazek is a movement director and choreographer working across theatre, education and community projects. Recent work includes: Purposeless Movements for Birds of Paradise Theatre Company at Edinburgh International Festival (also Associate Director); Act of Repair for SYT’s National Ensemble, My Left/Right Foot for NTS/Birds of Paradise, Sunday in the Park with George for Royal Conservatoire of Scotland; If We’ve Never Been to the Moon and The Naughty Fox for The Marlowe Theatre; and Hurricane Boy for Ellen Havard.  Rachel is Performance Coach for Post-Graduate Creative Musicians at the Leeds College of Music and has an MA in Somatic Movement from the University of Central Lancashire. 

Performers

Apphia Campbell’s piece Black Is The Color Of My Voice opened in Shanghai in 2013 to rave reviews before a sellout run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2014, extensive UK touring and a sellout West End run in 2019. Her Fringe-First winning piece Woke had its London premiere at Battersea Arts Centre in 2019. Apphia was a member of the BBC Writers Room programme during 2018 and has recently been commissioned by the BBC for a children’s story which will air next year.

Claire Eliza Willoughby is a theatre maker, musician and performer based in Glasgow. She has previously worked with Magnetic North on Lost in Music and twice on Rough Mix; in 2014 as an early career artist and in 2015 as a performer. Other recent work as a maker or performer include Whirlygig (Catherine Wheels/Red Bridge Arts), PLUTUS (Rob Jones), Puffin (SnapElastic), Assisted Suicide the Musical (Liz Carr), Shake(speare) It Off (RSC) and Sink or Swim (Giddy Aunt).

Elspeth Turner is an Edinburgh-based actor and writer. Her UK theatre work includes Granite (National Theatre of Scotland), The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart (Eastern Angles), Mischief (Oran Mòr / Traverse Theatre). Her writing includes plays The Idiot at the Wall and SpectreTown, both of which ran at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe before touring nationally. Elspeth recently wrote and directed Marram, a Gaelic short film, on the Hebridean island of Berneray and is currently developing a new play exploring the legacy of Gaels in North America.

Marion Geoffray is an actor, theatre-maker and the artistic director of Théâtre Sans Accents, an innovative bilingual theatre company in Edinburgh which promotes language learning through the arts to children and adults as well as producing original pieces of theatre by bilingual artists.  Productions include Lost in Translation: A Bilingual Journey, which will be touring France in 2020, and Knots, which was recently revived with a cast of young people for the YTAS Emergence Festival in November 2019. Marion is currently developing a new piece, Les Doigts, exploring non-verbal communication in very young children.

Nicholas Alban is an Edinburgh-based performer and facilitator who trained on the BA (Hons) Acting course at the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama in London. His recent work includes: The Happiness Project (Creative Electric); _____ Is Where the Heart Is (Birds of Paradise);  Shoplifter<>Shapeshifter (Creative Electric, Imaginate); Theatre Uncut: Women On Power (Theatre Uncut, Traverse Theatre); Desperation Bingo (Creative Electric, winner of The Wee Review’s ‘Fringe Zeitgeist Award’); Church of Broccoli (Creative Electric, winner of Creative Edinburgh’s ‘Creativity Award’) and Macbeth (Young Shakespeare Company).

Sean Hay is an Edinburgh-based performer who works in film, TV and theatre. Recent theatre work includes: Jury Play (Grid Iron); Wizard of Oz (Edinburgh Lyceum); White (Catherine Wheels); Antigone (Lung Ha); Sweetness (Dogstar); Huxley's Lab (Grid Iron). Sean took part in Rough Mix 2013 and 2015 as a performer.

Magnetic North is looking forward to working with this multi-talented group of artists. The sharing of their work at the end of Rough Mix on Friday 31 January 2020 is free but ticketed; you can reserve a place here: https://www.summerhall.co.uk/event/rough-mix/

 

                

 

 

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A trip to the World Festival of Puppet Theatre

Large puppet outside Hotel de Ville Large puppet outside Charleville's Hotel de Ville

In September, with support from the Federation of Scottish Theatre's Go See Network Share fund, I visited the Festival Mondial des Theatres de Marionettes at Charleville-Mezieres in France. The festival was celebrating its 20th edition this year, though the first one took place in 1961. It was described to me beforehand as the “world cup of puppetry” – not a concept I’d thought of before – and it is certainly very international, though with a commitment to having at least 50% of the work shown be French.

Charleville-Mezieres is on a loop in the Meuse river in the Ardennes. Within the arts, it is probably best known for its connection with puppetry - both through the festival and its International Institute of Puppetry – and as the birthplace of Arthur Rimbaud, who is immortalised in the name of the town's bookshop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The official festival has a number of satellites and there is a huge amount of work in all sorts of genres to choose from. I’d been advised to book shows well in advance, and this was very good advice as all the shows I saw were sold out and I wouldn’t have got to see them if I hadn’t booked ahead. The astonishing amount and range of work on offer makes even a short visit to the festival worthwhile: I saw 11 shows in 48 hours, including student work at the institute, a traditional Pulcinella show, and a big new work by the long established Mossoux Bonté Company. There is a lot of informal presentation (and advertising) of work:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year there was a digital strand to the festival and I saw a couple of shows that were experimenting with how to incorporate new technology in live performance, which made for some fascinating counterpoints: seeing a  shadow puppetry show followed almost immediately by a show using high definition projection was interesting as a reminder that there is rarely a really new way of doing things, just different developments of the same basic idea. Holding objects in front of a light-source to create an image on a screen is essentially the same as projecting digitally-created imagery: we can sometimes get caught up in the novelty of new technology and forget that it is what they see that matters to an audience, not how it is made.

Overall, the festival is a great way to understand the range of work that the phrase ‘Puppet Theatre’ contains: I saw work from North and South America as well as Europe , France, Finland, Germany, Canada, and Scotland. The last show I saw was an astonishing piece of theatre that defies categorisation. The Great He-Goat by the Belgian Mossoux Bonté company is inspired by one of Goya’s so-called black paintings – murals painted on the walls of his home at the very end of his life. The performance is a dazzling mix of physical and visual theatre, using music, grotesque imagery and life-size half-puppets which make it impossible at times to tell which figures are human and which are animated. This hugely-ambitious and beautifully-executed work was reason enough to have gone to the festival - you can find a trailer and images from it here.

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TOOT! TOOT!



Magnetic North help experienced artists. Why would they do that? Isn’t that like offering to help an elite athlete cross the road? Or polishing a Formula One car?

Before we can even begin to have this conversation, we must first look at what an experienced artist does. The myth is that they sit around all day, thinking self-indulgent thoughts then pouring them out onto canvas, or the page, or in a little dance. If their work is good, they will leave the grubby Art World behind, for the glitzy world of Meeja. That’s how we know if they’re ‘worth’ something. Because they’re rich and famous.

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