The Ensemble Project with Scottish Drama Training Network

Catherine Grosvenor, Creative Learning Associate at Stellar Quines is working with the Scottish Drama Training Network on their Ensemble Project that will perform at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Recently, Catherine went to Aberdeen to provide dramaturgical assistance.

Ensemble Project Part 2: Aberdeen

Stellar Quines are supporting SDTN’s Ensemble project in 2018, and at this stage I’m providing dramaturgical assistance to Caitlin Skinner as she meets drama students across the country and explores the themes she’ll be using to devise a piece with the company later. This week, we are working with students from North East Scotland College in Aberdeen.

Getting up to Aberdeen from Edinburgh means an early start – I meet Caitlin and Lucy Vaughan from SDTN at Waverley at 7.20 am. 7.20 am! That’s pretty early for creatives. We clutch our coffee cups. Our hands are cold. Our brains are cold. As the train pulls out of Waverley, we are greeted by the most beautiful sunrise. The Scottish countryside keeps it coming for the rest of our trip, up the Fife coast, over the Tay, towards Aberdeen: it’s all crisp blue sky, sunlight dancing on water, lone birds swooping. Early mornings have some perks.

Caitlin is interested in themes of anger, resistance and power, following on from her Fringe-First-winning production Woke. So what are these young people angry about? Netflix? The poor range of snacks in their café? Something to do with Game of Thrones?

The wealth gap, says one. The way disabled people get treated in public, says another. Gender inequality, says one young man, and then qualifies: the way I see a lot of men treating women. Male abuse of power, says another. Later, in a piece of improvisation, these same young men jeer and talk over a female member of the group who is trying to tell the audience about the anniversary of suffrage for women. It captures perfectly the phenomenon of a woman being silenced in public and it’s great to see young men and women making work together about the topic.

Caitlin asks the students a lot of questions about their thoughts on the topic and their responses are always considered and brimming with ideas. They are enthusiastic about the prospect of devising a piece and have lots to say. Is there anything they think the piece shouldn’t be about, Caitlin asks?

“Don’t bash on millennials please,” says one young woman. “There are too many shows which have done that recently.”

I have to confess I am unfamiliar with the concept of millennial-bashing, but this clip from the Mash Report enlightens me. Well, all I can say is that every millennial I’ve met so far on this project has been full of energy and focus, and a desire to make the world a better place. There’s a lot of unknowns to navigate before the final piece is ready, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be more about to be celebrating the enormous potential of this generation than bashing them.

 Catherine Grosvenor, Creative Learning Associate