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Reflections on Rough Mix 2020

Reflections on Rough Mix 2020 Photo: Jenna Watt

I’m writing this in the middle of the coronavirus lockdown, which makes this reflection even more poignant. It was only a few months ago that I spent two incredible weeks at Summerhall working with a brilliant bunch of artists on Rough Mix. In case you don’t know, Rough Mix is Magnetic North’s annual opportunity for 5 experienced artists to workshop their ideas alongside 2 emerging artists and a group of performers.

I was selected to work on a new solo performance called On and On and On and On and On. I’d already done a week’s work of development on this and a sharing at Buzzcut’s Double Thrills. I was pretty nervous about taking this solo performance idea into the Rough Mix process, where I would have the rare opportunity of working with loads of amazing performers. I needn’t have worried. I quickly realized that Rough Mix is really open; you can be responsive to what starts emerging in that particular space, with those particular artists. In effect I could put a pause on the project as a solo performance and get stuck into what might be possible by transferring my ideas, thoughts and process onto the group. And importantly, hearing what ideas they could give back in return.

It’s an exhausting process. In a good way. Each day is full of working, collaborating, observing, discussing, sharing. When you have downtime you still find yourself thinking about your project. It’s such a rich experience all round. I learned just as much, if not more, by watching the other artists lead their development sessions or chatting over lunch with the performers as I did from my own allocated 2-hour development slot.

Following Rough Mix, I went back into another 2 weeks of research and development for my piece. It felt odd to now be re-considering the work as a solo, but I could hear the voices and ideas of the Rough Mix artists resonating within me and the work. And I believe it has truly made this solo performance all the richer by having their voices in it. All of which makes this period of isolated reflection feel really pertinent. I don’t know what will happen with On and On…because I don’t know what is going to happen to the arts sector in Scotland; I don’t know what’s going to happen to the world. Hanging on to the richness of artistic experiences such as Rough Mix will in time be the motivating factors I will need to feel ready to start creating again in our strange new world.