Back in the summer of 2020, lockdown was easing and a yearning for social meetings was gathering pace. Curious Seed dance company’s artistic director, Christine Devaney, hatched a plan to facilitate Edinburgh-based dancers and performers in weekly practice sessions. What better location than the physically distanced vast outdoor space of Holyrood Park? This evolved into an ongoing improvisation on the celebratory spirit of being out in the community again.
Later there was a targeted open call as part of an ongoing commitment from Curious Seed. This was to address barriers to working in the dance sector for people of colour and those who have lived experience of racism. The aim was to build a more diverse group of performers for this year’s Edinburgh International Festival.
Field – Something For The Future Now is designed to be experienced, rather than merely watched, this free, unticketed outdoor ‘happening’ encourages the viewer to come and go as they please. Each ‘performance‘ lasts an hour and a half (with a half-hour break in between). This stretches across four hours on a summer Sunday afternoon.
After a beautiful week of sunshine and then a rainy Saturday, the weather forecast was not looking promising. We were prepared for rain but hoped for the sun. As it turned out, nature unexpectedly provided a theatrical backdrop for this outdoor experience – unusually mild and sunny with a shifting veil of Edinburgh mist. The grass, still damp from the day before, turned out to be a blessing. Audiences are typically static and keen to stand in one spot or sit down and enjoy the show. The enjoyment of this piece benefits most from having the audience move around and see different perspectives on this massive grassy stage.
Field – Something For The Future Now begins with a live score consisting of cello, flute and saxophone which creates a dream-like tone that carries lightly on the air. This sound score carries on cohesively throughout the performance, inviting curious park-goers to come closer. There are three distinct generational groups that come to emerge through the piece, each ebbing and flowing through the park space.
The ‘adults’ are a combination of various freelance performers and dancers from Curious Seed. They move through scenarios both symbolic and semi-abstract. These are bodies celebrating their own freedom of expression and movement. They come together in unison but also display their diversity through clothing, gait, movement and agility. They are at times aware that they are in this huge park space and at times lost in their own reverie, they are at times exhausted and need to rest, or protest.
The ‘children’ are young performers from Lyra, a live performance group that works with and for children and young people at the Artspace theatre and studio in Craigmillar, Edinburgh. This energetic troupe fly around in capes, taking on the role of superheroes throughout the piece. This role could be a well-deserved reward for putting up with endless lockdowns and homeschooling. Their energy and artful focus are impressive.
The ‘seniors’ are dancers from Dance Base’s PRIME, Scotland’s first semi-professional dance company for the over 60s. At first, they embark on a potent, and patient, seated theatrical performance. Then, all at once, they rise up in unison to shine in a life-affirming dance sequence that had me want to join in.
There’s a sense of freedom and acceptance in this experience, making use of the elements of an outdoor park environment instead of resisting them. Much like a hiking adventure in Holyrood Park, it leaves you invigorated, challenged, wanting to take up space with all four limbs, appreciating the sovereignty of your own body whilst celebrating with others and enjoying your freedom to move however you feel like. Catch the final day on Sunday 29th August 4-8pm.
With thanks to Artmag contributor Julie Boyne for this review.