We take a look at this year's Made in Scotland showcase, which helps Scottish artists bring their work to the Fringe and gives their shows a potential life after the festival
'We will be bringing the creepy.' So promises singer-pianist Kathryn Joseph of the brief but likely brilliant Fringe run of From When I Wake, her utterly immersive collaboration with Cryptic, which places Joseph in bespoke elaborate costume at her beloved upright piano in a disorienting mirrored landscape for a stylised performance of her acclaimed album of the same name.
'Cryptic are amazing and have made my songs make sense visually,' says Joseph. Like many of the Glasgow-based company's audio-visual labours of love, such audacious staging doesn't come cheap but, following an initial short run of shows in autumn 2018, From When I Wake has been liberated from early retirement and will go to the Fringe ball, courtesy of the Made In Scotland programme.
This umbrella showcase for performance pieces produced in Scotland is a collaborative effort between the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, Creative Scotland, the Scottish Music Centre and the Federation of Scottish Theatre, with vital finance coming from the Scottish Government's Expo Fund.
Every year over the past decade, Made In Scotland has staged a diverse, curated programme of music, theatre and dance works from new and established artists working in Scotland across a variety of Fringe venues and its 11th anniversary programme is richer than ever, encompassing 22 productions, from cross-generational dance pieces to music inspired by the works of Muriel Spark, a kids' show about women astronauts to a festival in a mini-amphitheatre made from upcycled pianos.
Alongside these assorted treats are six world premieres including the Traverse Theatre's black comedy Crocodile Fever, the Traverse / Tron co-production How Not to Drown about a child asylum seeker and The Afflicted, a debut dance theatre piece about mass hysteria in upstate New York from new Scottish company groupwork.
KID_X / credit: Brian Hartley
Kid_X, a co-production between MHz, Bassline Circus and Feral Arts at Assembly Roxy, spans music, dance and theatre, combining circus skills and street dance with video projections, dub vibrations from Glaswegian soundsystem Mungo's Hifi and live vocals from Eva Lazarus.
MHz founder Bex Anson has previously benefited from the security and spotlight that comes with being chosen for the Made In Scotland showcase. 'This is the second time MHz has been selected,' she says, 'so we know how lucky we are to approach the Fringe with not only the financial support to enable us to afford the production costs to present our show in one of the most sought-after venues, but also to be part of a respected award programme that is guaranteed to get the attention of reviewers and promoters alike. Also, it's great to see some of our peers from the experimental performance scene being selected.'
Anson includes Ultimate Dancer's For Now We See Through A Mirror, Darkly in her must-see list. Originally staged during Glasgow's Take Me Somewhere festival of contemporary performance, this biblically titled experimental dance piece explores the connection between what we see and what we believe.
'The piece looks at the purpose of believing in a higher power, and how we use our imagination to build a meaningful world,' says the Ultimate Dancer herself, aka Glasgow-based Swedish performance artist Louise Ahl, who has developed an audio description of the show to be spoken by the performers, not just to make the piece accessible to the visually impaired but to describe what cannot be seen by anyone.
'I also see the visual description as an access function for audiences that aren't familiar with the niche nature of experimental dance as it guides the audience to interpret the piece in a playful way,' says Ahl. 'The performance is quite minimalist and intense, yet epic and funny. I'm so excited to be part of Made in Scotland as we don't often see oddball experimental dance pieces as part of the showcase.'
Islander / credit: Jazzy Earl
If the Fringe is not for exposing audiences to work they won't readily see elsewhere, then what is it for? But for the artists in the Made in Scotland programme, there is also the promise of a life for their shows beyond the Fringe, with a portion of the funding earmarked for onward touring opportunities and developing contacts made during the festival.
Finn Anderson wrote the music and lyrics for Islander, an ethereal folk musical taking a child's eye view of island life under threat and the liberating possibilities of the outside world. So it seems fitting that he would be mindful of the wider opportunities which being part of the Made in Scotland programme affords.
'Particularly at this time in Scotland and across the world, it feels vital and exciting to be entering into a dialogue with artists, organisations and audiences away from home – using music and storytelling as a means for cross-border cultural exchange,' he says.
Helen Milne Productions
Eilidh stares out to sea and dreams of a new life beyond her lonely island. Myth and reality collide when the tide washes a mysterious stranger onto her beach, changing her life forever. Epic storytelling, intimately staged with a contemporary Scottish folk-inspired score. The cast live-record…
Nothing Ever Happens Here and Cryptic
An intimate and provocative live performance that 'evolves into a hypnotic whirlwind of warring emotions' (Herald), Cryptic's critically acclaimed, poignant staging of award-winning singer Kathryn Joseph's second album returns by popular demand. Renowned for her spellbinding vocal…
Ultimate Dancer in association with Take Me Somewhere
This mystical dance performance is about the connection between what we see and what we believe. It includes an evocative voice-over, which describes and interprets that which is present but cannot be seen. The description is an accessibility function for visually…
KID_X by Bassline Circus and MHz in association with Feral
Charting a futuristic romance between a boy with a bionic heart and a famous rooftop selfie queen, KID_X collides circus and street dance (flexing, krump, bone breaking) with hypnotic video projections and an original electronic score. Featuring stunning live…