Last September, ISACS member Poppy Emer Greenford attended an international two-week street arts training programme – SPASA – in Lleida – Spain.
Poppy was the recipient of an ISACS bursary to further develop her artistic practice by working with renowned artists – Adhok, The Primitives, Sergi Estebanell, and Décor Sonore – through an intensive programme of activities for a deep immersion in creating work in public space.
Here is what Poppy says about her experience.
I was very lucky to be given a bursary from ISACS to attend.
The first one and a half weeks we spent in Cervera, a neighbouring town set on a rocky cliff with gorgeous old architecture, winding streets and fortress ruins. There were four companies that came to do workshops with the students. Ad hok worked with landscapes and how public spaces provide stages that you could never build inside a theatre space. We created promenade performances through the town for each other as well as doing physical theatre exercises and games.
Craig, from The Primitives gave us exercises to interact directly with the public, through tasks such as moving boxes and dramatic unrequited love affairs amongst the public. Then Decor Sonore opened our ears to the sounds of the city and we worked with stethoscopes and contact mics to share our findings. Lastly was Sergi Estebali from Kamchàtka. The first session we were directed through WhatsApp group to complete tasks in a square in Tàrrega and we didn’t meet him in person until afterwards. We did two themed exercises, going to the beach which involved the appropriate attire and sunbathing on a zebra crossing as well as paddling and splashing in a fountain. Our last theme was going to a wedding. This improvised performance ended with an actual wedding involving the public filling various roles as well as some rice confetti gifted by a very welcoming person who earlier had invited us onto their balcony.
These exercises were fun and also challenging at times especially the language barrier during devising but I had some very helpful translators who I was very grateful for and made a lot of new friends too!
Overall it has completely changed my perception of the possibilities of public space as a stage for creating and also devising work that is site specific or site responsive. In terms of transposing what I’ve learned to my own work and areas of interest. I’m intrigued to discover how these techniques can be applied to circus and storytelling particularly around environmental activism and provocation in public space.
FiraTàrrega itself was also incredibly eye opening. So many great shows, old and new connections as well as plenty of networking opportunities. I’m so grateful for the bursary to attend the SPASA course and the chance to experience FiraTàrrega. I can’t wait for next year!