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Rough Mix February 2024

Rough Mix February 2024 Rough Mix 2023, Photo: MAIRI WILSON PHOTOGRAPHY

Magnetic North is delighted to announce the artists taking part in our next Rough Mix creative lab.

This will be the fourteenth edition of this unique programme. We are delivering this year’s Rough Mix in partnership with Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival as part of a range of activity in the area this year.

Rough Mix brings together five lead artists, each with a new idea to develop, two collaborating artists and an ensemble of five performers. Each lead artist spends time observing, assisting or collaborating on the other artists’ projects as well as working on their own project.

Rough Mix 2024 is in partnership with Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival and will take place in person at Cample Line.

Come along to the free sharing event at Cample Line on 16 February 2024 to explore the artists' processes and to witness their work in progress. Free ticketed event. Book tickets.

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Space/Time Artists' online residency, December 2023

Space/Time Artists' online residency, December 2023

For the whole of this week, we're holding our paid online residency for experienced artists which we call Space/Time. Presented in partnership with Sanctuary Queer Arts, Space/Time is for artists working in any art form, and poses the question “How can you continue to thrive as an artist?”. The artists gathering remotely to discover the answers will be:

Drew Taylor-Wilson

Drew Taylor-Wilson is a neurodivergent, queer creative working in TV, film, and theatre. They are an award-winning theatre director, playwright, facilitator, and theatre artist development specialist, trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Drew writes to advocate for seldom heard voices, creating bold contemporary queer stories that de-stigmatise mental health difficulties. Their plays have been seen across the UK, they are a former performance poet and frequently bend genre and form in both screen and stage writing.

They are one half of multi-art-form performance engine house COMPANY MANY, co-director of Sanctuary Queer Arts and Drew works freelance as a Director and Dramaturg, often with spoken word artists.

Nelly Kelly

Nelly Kelly is a disabled theatre maker, playwright, dramaturg, drag artist, producer, and consultant. Their work resists traditional theatre structures - to encourage the centring of excluded audiences and improved access.

They are currently collaborating on the development of a new piece of work with fellow trans and non-binary theatre maker Afton Moran, a satirical, comedic piece about ‘the trans cult’, supported by Sanctuary Queer Arts.

Annabel Cooper

Annabel Cooper is an art worker and drag artist based in Leith, Edinburgh.

Co-founder and co-director of Sanctuary Queer Arts; Annabel is also co-founder and co-director of Queen Jesus Productions; and co-founded and ran queer arts collective Dive Queer Party in the 2010s.

Annabel started performing in their 30s when running Dive cabarets, and carries the ethos and antics of that special collective with them in their work.

One half of drag king rock-n-roll tribute clowns Oasissy, Annabel rocks up to cabarets and festivals from New York to Newhaven causing mischief and mayhem.

Fraser MacLeod

Fraser MacLeod is a freelance theatre artist, director, facilitator, and project manager based in Glasgow.

He delivers and directs professional participatory experiences for children, families, and communities - ranging from one-off workshops to large scale events and projects. Frasers work often utilises drama and theatre to creatively explore socio-political themes. He strives to create supportive environments where everyone involved can discover, develop, and share their creativity skills and talents.

Fraser is currently Co-Director of Sanctuary Queer Arts; Founding Partner with Culture Junction; Education and Communities Associate with National Theatre of Scotland; and Associate Artist with Tron Theatre Participation.

Harry Mould

Harry (they/she) is a queer, mixed-heritage writer, artist, wellbeing facilitator, and EDI consultant, specialising in intersectional access, inclusion and advocacy. Last year, they wrote their first play, The Brenda Line, which was commissioned by Pitlochry Festival Theatre. The Houdini Detectives, their first script for television, was recently optioned, and their debut novel is currently shortlisted for the Merky New Writers Book Prize.

Harry has worked in theatre for over a decade, most recently as Federation of Scottish Theatre’s first Policy and Public Affairs Lead. They are one of the team working in response to Edinburgh Council’s Edinburgh Slavery and Colonialism Legacy Review, and was a member of the working group who created two Harassment in the Performing Arts guides for freelancers and organisations for the performing arts sector in Scotland. Harry is a founding board member of Summerhall Arts, and is on the board of directors for Wonder Fools.

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Morven Macbeth: a blog about being part of Rough Mix June 2023

Morven Macbeth: a blog about being part of Rough Mix June 2023

Going to begin, and quite likely finish this blog, by saying how thoroughly glad I am that Magnetic North exists in the world.

For an arts organisation to be working as conscientiously as they do, with kindness, integrity and curiosity at the core of everything they do, seems to me to be a genuinely rare, and therefore all the more wonderful thing. Having just celebrated 21 years of developing and producing live theatre and supporting artists in Scotland across a multitude of disciplines and career stages, I sincerely hope that Magnetic North continues in ‘restless exploration’ for many more years to come. So please join me for a moment, before we go any further, in saying cheers to that.

Good. Thank you. Now then.

There are many adjectives to ascribe to the period between March 2020 and the end of the summer of 2021, but I’m going to make a start with ‘strange’. The strangest of times. Being optimistic, I’m probably just over half-way through my days on this earth, and I’ve lived through my own series of pretty seismic upheavals, become familiar with the feeling of new ground under my feet. But the spring of 2020 was something else.

One of the hallmarks of lockdown was that I, along with very many other people of course, was forced into stillness. And one of the things this resulted in was meeting, initially over zoom calls then more latterly in person, a lot more people who form what we might call the Scottish Theatre community – including Magnetic North’s Nicholas Bone.

Having returned to Scotland just over ten years ago, after moving away as a teenager, I was struggling to find a sense of community now I was home again. This was for a number of reasons, I think, many of them related to life on the road as an actor, the five years it took me to get divorced and all that entailed, swiftly followed by my father’s fairly sudden demise and subsequent death in 2018. All of these things, otherwise known I suppose as ‘life’, had a tendency to take up rather a lot of my attention, time and energy. Life will do that, huh?

Along with many other arts organisations over the course of lockdown, Magnetic North was offering to meet with makers and artists in whatever manner possible, to give space for conversation, to connect, to have a cup of tea and a chat. Timing meant that, in mine and Nick’s case, this could happen in person, in an Edinburgh café. Our conversation that day led me to make several applications for a number of opportunities with Magnetic North, as the pandemic wore on, the world changing with it, some of which came up ‘yes’, and some of which came up ‘not this one, thank you for applying, but (importantly) let’s keep talking’.

And I started to feel that I was becoming part of something, a community, one of the large number of actors, playwrights, choreographers, musicians, dancers, multidisciplinary artists who were connected in some way to this quietly, modestly incredible organisation. It’s hard to overstate how vital that is to someone like me, as I’m acutely aware I’m not alone in experiencing this. Freelance life can leave artists feeling isolated. Intense, short periods of deep connection and creativity, coupled with a peripatetic existence, can lead to a sense of a lack of belonging to anything more permanent, more reliably present. Lines, if one saw any in the first place, get blurred between blood family, chosen family, colleagues, friends. That’s certainly been my experience at least. And one of the gifts which Scottish companies like Magnetic North, Stellar Quines and Disaster Plan have given me over recent years, is a sense of community.

Over the two weeks of Rough Mix, that community grew. This inspired (and inspiring) residency was first dreamt up in 2006, bringing together a range of people from different art forms, each lead artist coming with an idea they are interested in exploring. I had the privilege of collaborating with eleven exceptionally talented, generous and fiercely intelligent people - none of whom, Nicholas aside, I had ever met before. There’s something of an elusive quality Magnetic North seems to engender in the spaces it creates: one of trust, vulnerability and openness. If I were describing a person, rather than an organisation, I’d say they “have no side” to them. I love that phrase. One of the highest compliments, to my mind, one can pay.

I was coming into this Rough Mix space, as one of four lead artists, with, on one level, exclusively visual material. To be precise, 228 digital photographs, each also reproduced as a 10x8 photograph, plus 13,500 seconds of video footage, gathered over 13 months of my life from 21st of September 2020, one month after the death of my mother, who was 2000 miles away, until 24th of September 2021, when I was about to open a remount of a show called Life Class, with theatre company Bodies in Flight, co-created with local senior social dancers and choral singers down in Preston. On another level, I was bringing to the residency intensely personal material, which also seemed to me to have a universality layered into it somehow, making it a good source from which to begin making a piece of live work of some sort. One of the things which became very clear to me over the course of the fortnight at Summerhall, was that - whatever this project might become - the live, breathing, ‘in-the-flesh’ element of it was essential.

And please believe me when I say I came to Rough Mix with no fixed ideas whatsoever about what the piece ought to be. I’m a firm believer in the notion that the form will emerge, over time. The content exists, in the visual material, as a starting point at least. The rest needs space and time and collaboration. Which is exactly what Rough Mix offers. Another firm belief I hold, is in the centrality of process. As a longstanding Associate Practitioner with imitating the dog, whose work has, for 25 years, explored the relationship between the digital and the live, the cinematic and the theatrical, the process we’ve created as a company is key to the success of the work. Similarly, making Opening Skinner’s Box with Improbable over the span of many months, the process which Phelim McDermott and Lee Simpson have developed together over the years, held a strong presence in the space. I’m a big process fan.

So, I was somewhat taken aback when I found myself effectively processless. I’ve never made my own work before, which begged the question: what is my process over the next two weeks? It struck me that the only thing to do was to trust in Rough Mix. Embrace the process built over seventeen years of this residency’s existence. Hold a space which encourages us all to be fully responsive to the material, allowing for discovery, failure, and for accidents to happen. Learn from the process of the eleven other makers and artists around me, as together we unpacked and explored the seeds of four ideas brought into the space on day one. With no pressure or expectation to have produced a finished piece of performance by 6pm on day ten. Just an invitation to share.

In fact, in many ways, that sums it all up. Magnetic North excels at offering an invitation. And to be in a position to accept, and to be part of Rough Mix 2023, has meant the beginning of something genuinely exciting for me as an artist and theatre maker - living, working and being part of a community here in Scotland.

Born and brought up in the Highlands of Scotland, Morven trained at The Academy Drama School in London. Now based in Scotland, her work spans theatre, film, voiceover and television. She is an associate practitioner with theatre company imitating the dog.
Rough Mix 2024 artist residency. Application deadline: 10am GMT, 20 November 2023.
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Magnetic North Festivals Guide 2023

Magnetic North Festivals Guide 2023

We asked the artists who have taken part in our artist development programme if they are involved with a show during the Edinburgh Festivals.

Here are their suggestions of performances running in August which have a Magnetic North connection.

Voices from the South

Voices from the South is an international online showcase of performance work at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, co-curated and delivered with partner organisations from Brazil, India, Mexico, Scotland and South Africa.

The project involves 15 artists and companies from these countries who have engaged in an 18-month period of exchange and conversation while preparing to present their work online at Fringe 2023.

Black is the Colour of my Voice

Fringe First and Spirit of the Fringe award winner Apphia Campbell's stunning solo show, inspired by the life of Nina Simone. Back at the Fringe to celebrate its 10th birthday! Strictly limited run of five performances only. 'Campbell may wear Simone's trademark head wrap but her performance goes beyond impersonation' **** (Times). 'Apphia Campbell is nothing short of sensational... she will make you cheer for her, smile with her and then sting your eyes with tears' ***** ( 'A compelling and heartbreaking story, punctuated with bursts of song.' **** (Edinburgh Festivals Magazine).

Apphia took part in Rough Mix 2020 and performed in We WIll Hear The Angels.

Pentland Theatre, Pleasance at EICC 

Aug 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 3pm

Experts Radio Lab

Kids are experts. Some are experts on jumping, some on dinosaur fossils, some on making mud pies. Whatever it is, our mics are on, the interview chair is ready and we’re about to go live. Experts Radio Lab and the accompanying Listening Station is a free, drop-in experience, set within our pop-up radio studio at the National Museum of Scotland. Interviews are shared live to an audience of fellow interviewees, their families and anyone who’s curious. Share your expertise with us, or come along and learn from the masters! You never know what you’ll learn.

Alice Mary Cooper is our Artist Employee at Magnetic North.

National Museum of Scotland

Aug 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24

Drop in between 11am-1pm, 2pm-4pm

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Call Out for Performers - Rough Mix Summerhall, Edinburgh 2023

We're looking for flexible, open performers with theatre, dance, or contemporary performance backgrounds to join us at Rough Mix 2023. Deadline midday (BST) on Monday 29th May 2023.

Call details.

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