Abrupt Encounters performance at Scottish Parliament

As Scotland moves towards a referendum for independence and a year of homecoming, Abrupt Encounters created a new and unique opportunity for adults with learning disabilities mostly from Stirling, to be resident in and create a new work of live performance within the building and environs of Scottish Parliament. Working with Alex Rigg and Guy Veale, with some support from Claire Docherty at early stages. Supported by the BBC Performing Arts Fund for the very first time as well as by Gordon Fraser Charitable Trust and NHS Forth Valley, this was a poignant moment for the performers and for Artlink Central as we celebrated 25 years of extraordinary participatory art.

The aim of the project was to explore live arts performance practice in an intensive and responsive way in the context of a significant public space, exploring why and how the space is important and the way in which it is used. The project explored the creative use of the space and of connections it has to its public and took this as inspiration for a new artistic creation.

Use of costume and sound were key features of the work and we hope to make the performance practice of this talented collaborative much more visible with the aim of democratising the space to include people with learning disabilities in its everyday use and to maybe challenge and reinterpret its use in some way.

The group decided what about the space was important to explore and led this part of the process, whilst facilitating professionals supported and facilitated the way in which these explorations begin to weave into a piece of rehearsed and planned performance.

The work included a reworking of ’23′ an ode by a lover to the twenty third button on the wedding dress which adorns performer Gregor Gillespie like a cloak. The other twenty two buttons all represent the lovers whose love was lost or unrequited. The work is inspired by the building of Scottish Parliament and also by the journey to and from the Parliament, which resulted in each performer choosing a song that inspired them on their Parliament visits.