If in doubt, go see a show.

Last week I rode the country backwards, all the way from Leeds to Bristol, to give a little talk to some undergrads at my alma mater, the Department of Drama: Theatre Film and Television at the University of Bristol. Despite the whopping £195 train fare, when one of my all-time favourite academics, Dr Angela Piccini, asked me at the last minute if I could come and tell some anxious final year students about the woes and wonders of doing/being a postgraduate and freelance artist, I swooned. There were some outstanding Bristol graduates on the discussion panel, including Jeremy Routledge from Calling the Shots, and producers from Battersea Arts Centre and Punchdrunk. And then there was I, with my pointy eyes and expandable words and generous gestures. They said internships and career and opportunity. I said loyalty and commitment and stamina. Hopefully some of the new faces now know that there are plenty of different ways to cut some furrows into your brow.

But for now, let’s make like the cast of Facehunters and set our sights on love, loss and the beauty of youth. This new ‘musical for the Vice generation’ from the brazen Leeds’ troupe, Hungry Bitches, sparked with orgiastic music, spandex pinging choreography and incendiary direction. Based very loosely on the principles behind Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray, the Hungry Bitches wove a hipster saga from the ashes of a smouldering Dalston and our tragic fascination with eternal youth. Two words popped into my mind over and over again whilst I watched the opening night performance at Stage@Leeds: Commercial Potential. Yo, West End, you have been buzzed.

And all of that came after a mad hour at the third instalment of the Henry Moore Institute’s performance art series, This is Performance Art. Entitled ‘The Conceptual Burlesque of Nice Style: the World’s First Pose Band’, the artist Mel Brimfield delivered a performance lecture via her long-time collaborator, the fake art critic, Sir Frances Spalding. So many layers of crisp unreality obscured my already battered sense of reason that I thought I’d gone to heaven or gone bat-shit crazy. I don’t want to give too much away, expect to say that the whole event was a bit like going up into your granddad’s attic to find a small and useful artefact of your recent past and instead coming down the ladder with an armful of stolen trinkets and questionable literatures. GO SEE ANYTHING BY MEL BRIMFIELD. But especially this.

Thanks to the generosity of Slung Low, I then spent a full weekend at the Holbeck Underground Ballroom with my band, and am currently getting my gear together to take One Day : Day One to Stockholm for the Supermarket 2012 and also perform the next edition of my Tuull series, called God Gave Rock and Roll…, at Indivisible’s 24-hour event, (in)xclusion, at Patrick Studios on 25-26th February.

Phew. January, you did for me what I’ll do for the rest of the year: kept it busy, kept it bright, kept it bringing it.

xxx

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I wanna be working with what I’ve got

Whilst thousands of pounds go up in smoke over the ragged Leeds skyline, I’m sat inside my cramped warren trembling from fear of robbers and cowards. Bah fireworks humbug. Guy Fawkes, you have a lot to answer for.

Last week, the stunning, gracious and hilarious performance artist and researcher, Owen Parry, gave me half of his cappuccino as we faced the final day of a three-day performance workshop with Miss Vaginal Davis and Jonathan Berger. Owen has a laugh like a foghorn in drag, and definitely makes it into my Top Five Favourite Performance Artists That I’ve Personally Spoken To list. Here’s Owen in action, in a short film that (I gather) forms the introduction to a live work.

Part of this year’s installment of the Performance Matters symposium, the Framing the Freakazoid workshop and the preceding days of talks and performances that I managed to catch at Toynbee Studios and ]performance space[ were all focused around the notion of Trashing Performance, on exploring ‘the power of creative expressions that willfully debunk or ignore cultural ideals and hierarchies of critical value’. Indeed. Well, my time in the smoke certainly opened my eyes and arms to the range of trash coming out of the capital’s performance scene. I’ll be ripping open the proverbial bin-liners a performative lecture demonstration at the Compass Festival of Live Art‘s scratch platform, Compass Late on Friday 25th November 2011. For more information on Freaking London, watch this freakin space.

Or watch this. YAY.