Monday, 3 August 2015

The Wanderings Of Rural Touring


We wouldn't say we are specifically a rural touring company. But we spend a lot of time in the countryside and we make work which can play anywhere - because we want to be able play a show in a theatre as easily as we can a village pub. We make a lot of work in the countryside, we make work with partners in cities and in villages and in market towns. I think because we all come from such different places - we live in woodlands, flats, an old mill, a new build - that we are all informed by where we feel at home. And, actually, we have all started to feel at home in each other's places too.

The article in guardian about rural touring was good to read - The rural touring schemes across the UK and beyond provide such a wonderful platform for work. Vitally, though, this must be seen as a two way conversation. For us, these aren't just schemes which help audiences see new work - they are schemes which allow and inspire us to make new work because of the audiences we meet. It's as vital as any studio development scheme. 

In 2014 we made BABYLON, a show to play in pubs. It didn't matter whether these were village pubs, city bars or anything in between. We made this with 3 partners: Greenwich Theatre in London, Derby Theatre and The Fauconberg Arms Pub in Coxwold - tiny village in North Yorkshire. Off the back of BABYLON we met The Touring Network who take work around venues in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, we toured our show Beulah to 5 stunning venues. 

Next week we open our new show FABLE at Summerhall - an arts venue in the centre of Edinburgh, there is nothing rural about it. We play there for a month as part of the Edinburgh Fringe as part of a stunning international programme of work. Our show, FABLE, is inspired by a tiny village called Ardfern. Ardfern is village on the far west coast of Scotland with one shop, one road and one pub. We toured there with Beulah, we met a man in the pub - a poet called Blair. FABLE is about that man and that village. 

Not only that, but we have spent 2 weeks making the show up in the Highlands - one week in Ardfern and one week in Cromarty, on the north east coast. This show is born out of a rural arts ecology. We've lived with, been supported by, socialised with, been inspired by and shared with the brilliant people from these two communities. We hope FABLE will have a happy run in Edinburgh and we hope it will have a long life around the UK and internationally. If it does, we owe all of that to our wonderful rural touring ecology. 

FABLE plays at Summerhall from the 5th-30th August at 6:30pm.

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