Noel Witts - Professor of Performing Arts

DEMARCO’S TRAVELS

September 4, 2013

“Demarco’s Travels”  is an ambulant performance devised for this year’s Edinburgh fringe at the Summerhall venue, where a small part of Richard Demarco’s archive is housed. The archive, built from over 50 years promoting , curating, and exhibiting work from around the work at various Demarco sites in Edinburgh, provides a unique picture of European visual and performing arts since 1947, when the Edinburgh Festival began. The archive consists of pictures, sculptures, drawings, posters, programmes, letters, and above all photographs of all the exhibitions, performances, summer schools, expeditions that have formed Demarco’s life’s work. The idea for the Summerhall performance came from Teresa Brayshaw, who suggested the ambulant idea, where the audience is led from room to room of the archive, confronted from time to time by performance moments by Jodean Sumner and Louise Hill, with Demarco’s own words read by Noel Witts. As the tour proceeds one is confronted by a moving collection of events and writings by key figures who passed through Edinburgh or who helped promote Demarco’s ideas. Writings and performance material from the following formed the basis of the show : George Mackay Brown, Hugh McDiarmid, Paul Neagu, Gertrude Stein, Shakespeare, Tadeusz Kantor, The Road to Meikle Seggie, Buckminster Fuller, Sophocles,Joseph Beuys, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Louise Hill, Jodean Sumner. An eclectic list but one which represents the collection, so that the event  became a poetic and performative reflection on the life of this extraordinary man. The show might indeed have taken a pile of other artists, which was clear from the audience it attracted – theatre people, visual artists, archivists from the United States, friends of Demarco. It is clear that we , that is the Leeds-based PALM ensemble – have an adaptable format which can be applied to any archive or even museum. And what about all Mum and Dad’s ‘stuff’ in the loft? An archive in the making?…… Since writing this Demarco has been awarded the European Union Citizen’s Prize 2013, about which he has spoken thus : ”The great culture that binds us together as Europeans is also the culture of the world. There is no Polish art, or Scottish art, or English art, or Italian art. There is only art.” He recalled the origins of the Edinburgh Festival, which had aspired “to use the language of art to define a re-awakening, a period of forgiveness and reconciliation.”

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    "Demarco's Travels"  is an ambulant performance devised for this year's Edinburgh fringe at the Summerhall

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