Down in the Arches Cafe Bar, third-year students from the Contemporary Performance Practice (CPP) course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland are serving up short performances until the end of February, but the Into the New showcase by CCP4 graduating students has now ended.
Fingers crossed some of these works re-appear at a future date.
No-one tagged the event with an over-arching theme, but a shared mood and inter-connecting mindset did emerge across the three days. A youthful, yet mature, way of looking at the bleaker aspects of life, before socking adversity in the eye with a comical punchline and anecdotally personal confrontations with the issues that undermine self-belief.
Aby Watson's Dust Yourself Off And Try Again (HHHH) negotiated a risky tightrope between ribald buffoonery and genuinely exposing pathos without the safety net distractions of other performers. It was up to her alone "not to make a mess of this" as, squirmed into a white tutu and with Swan Lake on her (self-operated) sound system, she made irresistible fun of her own failings in monologues and actions where self-mockery verged on the cruel.
She quietly revealed how she longed for passers-by to notice the tutu under her arm, and assume she had all the qualities we associate with ballerinas. Her skill in seeming lackadaisical when in fact she has an impressive command of structure was matched by a canny instinct for what needs to be revealed to an audience to make her particular journey feel relevant to their own experiences.
Leyla Coll-O'Reilly chose, in her solo piece What a Fanny... (HHH), to throw all caution and privacy to the wind, with a series of self-images from childhood's deceptively "pink'n'pretty princess" to an emotionally bruised state of feeling and the casual sexuality she mistakes for female liberation. You feel her pain, but wonder if you should be sharing in the raw and intimate details.
Thimble Collective's The Voice Pickler (HHHH) took a whimsical notion – catching people's voices and preserving them in appropriate objects – and created an adventure complete with film, animation and a gloriously bizarre installation where humour spills over into reflection on how fragile and transient we are. Utterly beguiling.
Memories as baggage – symbolised by stuffed rucksacks – were unpacked by Lookout in The Expedition (HHH), where the blend of poetic reveries, gung-ho assertiveness and the camraderie between Rosie Reid and Peter Lannon built into a celebration of looking back to go forward, even if you don't have a map.
Stepping over the designated line in the long dark arch and engaging one-to-one with Amy Mclachlan-Sayer in I Feel the Earth Move... (HHH) was a brush with unknown possibilities that stayed unheard by onlookers.
Her affability and generosity of self in a briefly shared moment was the stuff of memorable performance and so too was David Banks's willingness in Feather by Feather (HHH) to put himself bodily on the line in the martial arts bout that harked back to his childhood determination to be a super-hero. An enjoyably winning performance.