Fergus came up with the name for this summer’s series of strange, fringey, friendly arts mash-up events in a text message sent to me on April 30th 2013 that read: “I think we should call the summer events ‘if’. As in if we had money we could do this, or if artists work together, what happens? Or if you want a fun night out… And also it stands for informal fuckabout.”
The idea was to call all of our friends and get them to call their friends and see if we could put on some half-decent theatre, art and music for all the friends we’ve not met yet. The idea was that it’d be the least possible disturbance for the artists who work here at the Studios, while also being regular enough to start to build a bit of momentum and provide a home for this fledgling multi-arts community. The idea was mostly to create fun nights that we’d like to go to ourselves.
I started with seven sheets of blank A4 paper, stuck up on the wall of my little office at the Studios. Gradually, I got recommendations of interesting or interested people, I sent out lots of invitations and started to populate these papers with multi-coloured post-it notes. Blue for visual art, green for music and yellow for theatre. Some people shifted dates, some people dropped out due to other commitments and some post-its fell off because they lost their stick (and I always re-stuck them).
What I ended up with, was a summer full of colour and brilliant people. These artists were all totally fearless in responding to the informal nature of these events and to the invitation to “try something out” or to challenge themselves. Or to have fun. We stuck together a Facebook group and invited as many folk as we could.
The audiences started small – there were around twenty folk at the first event on June 1st – and they grew each time (with a small dip in mid-August when a lot of folks were at some other festival in Edinburgh or somewhere…?). As I write, I’m slightly nervous about the possibility that tomorrow’s audience for the final IF might be the biggest yet – hopefully no one feels too squished.
These audiences were as inspirational to me as the artists who shared work. They came with open minds, friendly faces and plenty of spare glasses of wine for unfortunate first-timers who didn’t know it was a strictly BYOB affair. They gave astute and articulate feedback and they were the life and soul of the party.
And in amidst coconut shies, campfire storytelling, sex-magic, exquisite corpses and all the other weird and wonderful creativity was a tangled network of cables and equipment making it all sound and look a lot more professional than we probably deserved to. The kindness of the people who let us borrow stuff still takes my breath away sometimes – especially Matt Padden at the National Theatre of Scotland, the Citizen’s Theatre and the Glad Cafe.
The last event is tomorrow, Saturday August 24th. I’ll be sad to see the events go, but as these Glasgow nights start to draw in and the neighbours nerves get increasingly taut, it definitely feels like an appropriate moment so close the doors to the Southside Studios for a little while.
So. Thanks for making my favourite summer happen. I can’t wait to informally fuckabout with you all again someday.