Critiquing a festival is difficult. The works of more than 20 different writers nestled side by side in an eight hour programme that ranges from broken beat poetry to a talk from a dramaturgical organisation, with lashings of new writing in between. Where do you start?
Perhaps with the highlights. I laughed out loud at the quirky observational humour (“I don’t like beer. It tastes like gone off Weetabix”) and the simple but beautifully timed one liners from newly-formed Thick as Thieves. The brilliantly titled piece, The Assassination of Noel Edmunds, effortlessly illustrated that wonderful writer’s ability to find metaphor in something as mundane and seemingly recognisable as ‘Deal or no Deal’. Writers Hayley Squires and Max Hutchinson showcased this ability through the festival’s relaxed but nonetheless professional air.
The staging of all these scenes was impromptu and simple (to the extent of amusing homemade sounds effects suspiciously floating down from the lighting box), quite underwhelming to look at with only a few chairs, tables and a sofa placed under basic wash lighting. However, this was totally appropriate for the aim of the festival; to eradicate the usual pressure to produce polished and completed material. Instead, Made from Scratch created an environment for their artists to play in and their audience to revel in.
What was also clear throughout the day was the strength gained from collaboration – not only between companies but also in the individual creative teams’ ability to turn their hands to a variety of theatre skills. Perhaps this is the way in which we can respond to the adverse arts climate ahead, by creating fluid companies of writers, producers, directors and actors who learn from each other and take influences from those around them. We’re all in this together, after all.
Frankly, this festival resists any criticism I could possibly want to make. Made from Scratch and the companies brought together here are in fact made from a passion, devotion and love of theatre-making, of telling stories and of coming together to celebrate this in the face of increased cuts and anxieties. How can you argue with that?
Made From Scratch have developed their first full length production Body Of Water which will be previewing at the Lost Theatre 12th – 15th July. It will then run as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from 5th-29th August 15.30 at The Pleasance Below. The Bold Festival took place at the Cockpit Theatre on 14th May 2011.