Closing Day /You Are Here Festival

Final Blog

Phil Setren’s play PRETEXT was in the 24 7 Festival 2013 in an evening of script in hand readings at the Portico Library.  The event was curated as an exchange programme  with an Australian writer from the You Are Here Festival in Canberra.

24 7 gave Phil support towards finding the grant to travel to Australia for the production of the play.  When the grant was rejected, he crowd funded the travel money and went to Australia for the production.  The You Are Here Festival provided a director, actors and digs for the two week Festival.

Here are some observations from a curated Festival similar to 24 7, in another part of the world.

The closing day event of the You Are Here Festival is a publishing Fair.
Tables fill the Gorman Arts Centre hall and green garden courtyard with publishers of new plays, magazines, new music, poetry and visual art showing their publications and telling us how we can get involved.
In the courtyard, a dance theatre production about the environment is starting with movement to percussion instruments and a giant ball representing the world troubled by climate change.  The group of 50+ women called ‘Somebody’s Aunt’ speak text about media mis-representation, and the large world is passed around as the responsibility of the audience.
A few days ago, a play about sustainable thinking called the ‘Mayfly Project’ was presented, for which a threatening ticking clock was projected on the ceiling of the venue.
The outdoor setting brings participants of the Festival together for a closing day of events, food and drink and the hilarious final ceremony of the Artists Olympics, for which the writing team has won!  Its all in good fun, and we joke  about the mock competition with new friends from other art forms who participated.  With an event like this, it made it easier for us to meet each other quickly and with a creative and light-hearted sense of play.
Some artists complain that the You Are Here Festival has too many producers and too much administration.  From my UK point of view, I liked that every art form had a producer.  The main administrative team was 15 large with videographers, photographers and technical support that provided the right management in every venue.  You couldn’t fault their internal communication, whereas funding is so tight in the UK, we usually exhaust 3 or 4 main producers of our Festivals by the end of an event.
People in the garden ask me about the writing of my play Pretext.  I’m impressed that some audience members have seen it more than once, and want to ask me what I meant to say with the writing, as the play is about the nature of  love.  I’m happy that my writing has created conversation, and I listen to so many different views about love and lasting relationships. Some plays are forgotten the second we step on the 192 bus.
The next night I meet Chris Summers, who is the writer who came to 24 7 with his play ‘Paper Trails’ that was read alongside ‘Pretext’ this past summer.  He has arranged tickets for us to see the award winning new play “Jumping For Jordan’ by Donna Abella.  This powerful play is about a family from Jordan relocating to Australia, and the culture clashes when their two daughters are about to get married.  Its 90 minutes are packed with short, quickly shifting  scenes, and the play engages me about worlds I don’t know of.  Chris is pondering the eternal writer’s question.  Is it best to write for yourself and make a living another way, or to try to write for a living doing writing that pays, but may not be your first choice as a writer.
I see my final Festival show, called ‘Carly and Troy Do A Doll’s House.’    This is a play about the relevance/lack of relevance in classic plays to audiences today. The two actors play the leads in Ibsen’s ‘A Dolls’ House’ swapping roles and cross dressing, skillfully integrating film, music and a fascinating set of paper doors they rip through.
New work often utilizes everything the writer has ever learned or felt. Here, the rules and conventions of writing and making new work are often broken.
Like the You Are Here Festival, this piece has an awareness of genre, but delights and gets power from mocking, inverting, manhandling or ignoring the rules.  This was a parallel to the final dance party evening, called ‘No Lights, No Lycra’ where we danced in the dark in the Hub venue ‘like noone was watching.’
I’ve had a great experience in this atmosphere of so many art forms coming together in one Festival.  As I haven’t blogged before, if you have questions about the You Are Here Festival or even if you’ve read my blog and would like to tell me so, drop me an e mail.  philsetren (at) gmail.com
The You Are Here Festival is waiting to hear about it’s continued funding, and I certainly hope they are successful.  I saw good new work, met fascinating people, had a play produced well and saw a new interpretation of my work. But, I also wrote every day during the event, and grew  new  fire for my writing from the passion of the atmosphere.
Thanks 24 7 and You Are Here for a great experience.
Phil Setren
April 2014