On a grey Saturday in a St Andrews November, I faced the elements to experience On the Rocks’ new venture, On The Pebbles. The student-run arts festival had wished to expand their presence beyond their ten day festival in April. Thus, On The Pebbles was born. It was a fusion of St Andrews University’s creative elements and talents in a new, interesting and extremely enjoyable way.
Have you ever read an Agatha Christie novel and wished that you could have lived through it in real life? Have you always thought that, had you been there, you would have known whodunnit? Well, the opportunity to live this dream is closer than you think…
I was talking to a friend of mine last week, who was working as one of the technicians for Sweeney Todd, who told me that the show contained over 300 lighting cues, significant numbers of sound cues, an absurd number of costumes, a strong makeup department, as well as a full orchestra pit. It shouldn’t surprise you, then, when I say that Sweeney Todd cannot be done by a uni troupe perfectly. Resource restrictions dictate that it can’t be. But it is shocking, in the way that many St Andrews productions often are, that this production of Sweeney got as close as it did. Warts and all, Sweeney Todd was an example of what a great show in the Byre can be.
Don’t be misled by this play’s title; it deals with much more than physics or physicists. The show was performed in its original German (a delight as a mother-tongue German speaker) with English subtitles. Dürrenmatt’s dark absurdist comedy tackles the ethics and structures of science, madness and power. In the Director’s Note, the directors acknowledge the challenge in staging this “fiercely moral yet absurdist piece” and bringing it into the 21st century, a challenge they wonderfully mastered.
The St Andrews Revue exists as the University’s only standing sketch comedy troupe. The improv comedy group Blind Mirth gives the form a go during each On The Rocks Festival, as does the Comedy Society, yet The Revue is the only student group committed to the form. Unlike the other two groups, they are not affiliated with the Union.
Unicef on Campus St Andrews’ 4th Annual Symposium was held in the Byre Theatre Studio this year, and for the first time, Unicef’s Symposium collaborated with On the Rocks, expanding their audience. The Symposium focused on the issue of Children in Conflict and brought in a panel of speakers with a diverse level of expertise on the topic. The speakers included Marc Ellison, a photojournalist working in conflict zones; Laurie Druelle, a representative of HALO Trust, which focuses on Mine Clearance and Awareness in post-confict zones; Jaremey McMullin, a St Andrews IR lecturer researching internal conflict and the process of post-conflict transition; and Daniel Cosgrove, a representative from UNICEF UK based in Glasgow.
The Jazz Café, hosted by the Lumsden Club in Sandy’s Bar, as part of the On the Rocks Festival, was a night of both intimate acoustic music and brash, fabulous, big band standards. The packed bar chatted spiritedly throughout, as the venue as a café and not a concert greatly added to the relaxed feel of the evening.
- What is FOUND?
Found, most simply, is a dance show. However instead of being on a stage, it happens outside in various locations around town. It’s also not just one dance show, but several – we have over 10 pieces being performed throughout the week. It’s also a bit different because you don’t need to buy a ticket, you just turn up. But we also won’t tell you when or where it’s happening, so it’s up to you to find us! Each performance only lasts about 5 minutes long but together they form the collective work of Found. It’s kind of like, for want of a better word, flash mobs, although think less jazz hands and more contemporary pop-up performances.
At the end of break, St Andrews transforms from a coastal town with an empty castle to one where students flood the streets and (too soon) the library. Yet all the bustle of plane rides and train trips and those few blissful days before classes begin are a minor stir compared to the ten-day long creative frenzy of On The Rocks. And this year, the committee is looking for eager volunteers to help make the festival better than ever.
An art historian could quote you an essay by Harold Rosenberg. A budding philosopher could counter with a line from Plato’s Aesthetics. And who can say that one is right and one is wrong? Art—something that is simultaneously obvious and indefinable—connotes a different meaning to each who considers it. And as the deadline for applying to On The Rocks 2018 approaches, it is an idea you should consider in earnest.