Just Start Here: In Conversation with the Artists
Jo Gilbert and Fiona Soe Paing on Aberdeen and sharing the stage in Now / Apathy / Action
by Rory Buccheri
courtesy of National Theatre of Scotland
Jo Gilbert and Fiona Soe Paing collaborate on Now / Apathy / Action, words and music exploring the effects of climate change and the impact of our (in)actions. Sharing the stage for the first time ever, Jo and Fiona were ‘matched up’, despite never collaborating in the past, and put together the performance in just one day.
Just Start Here has landed in Aberdeen! What do you think the city will gain from this event?
Fiona: Aberdeen has for a long time been sidelined in regards the new or experimental arts scene – now it’s really great that there's a chance to see what's on in the cutting edge of performance in Scotland, without having to go to to the Central Belt!
Jo: I think it is brilliant that National Theatre Scotland’s coming up here to nurture and help local artists to develop. It is a sign that people are beginning to see exciting things happening in the cultural sector of the city.
What inspired your performance? And it what way does it embrace the National Theatre’s project ‘Fierce Urgency of Now’?
F: We wanted to get across the ideas in Leslie’s talk in a way that would be engaging, thought-provoking and entertaining... we just started work to see what would evolve – and we were all pleased with what came out of our experiments!
J: We were set a provocation from Leslie Mabon, who was our climate change expert for the day and his work inspired the narratives for the piece. Our performance is in three sections: Now, Apathy and Action, in which we are showing people what will happen if they do – or don’t – act now.
What role has your own artistic contribution to the shared performance?
F: The soundscape that I have created using recorded sounds and live vocals very much is there to underpin and emphasise Jo's words, bring them to live and build an atmosphere.
J: I think both sounds, vocals, and spoken word are used equally in this piece to tell a story…one enhances the other and adds to the effect of the piece!
What’s the aspect you’re more excited about in the performance that awaits you?
F: Doing some live improvisation with vocals will be pretty exciting, even terrifying actually - and how we've brought some aspects of physicality into the performance is something completely new for me.
J: I’m really excited to see how the piece comes out after all the work! We originally had only one day to put something together, but Adam Coutts (from Ten Feet Tall Theatre) really helped us to develop our ideas and pull the work together as one piece rather than just bits of music and spoken word.
What have you gained from the experience with the other?
F: I've never worked with a writer or spoken word artist before, so doing something totally different and new will bring a fresh approach to creating work for me.
J: I’ve already learned loads from working with Fiona. My own practice has taken a little turn in direction and future plans now include weaving music in with spoken word!
In terms of future projects and gigs: what’s in store for you?
F: I'm doing something completely different yet again! I'm very excited to be releasing a dance track on 29th March - it's called "Disco-Nect" and is a response to the Brexit fiasco. Later this month I will be at the Threshold Festival and at the BBC 6 Music Festival Fringe in Liverpool.
J: I’m running a Doric Poetry Slam on the 27th March at Spin and a series of writing workshops leading up to that. Once I’ve finished that project, I want to develop my own spoken word show. For the future there are a couple of other wee projects in the pipeline but nothing I can confirm yet!