Laura McDermott and Harun Morrison made a sure-footed debut as co-directors of Fierce this evening. In the back bar downstairs at The Big Peg an impressive crowd of ‘faces’ from Birmingham, London and elsewhere were gathered for their welcoming. After Alan Rivett, Chair of the Fierce, gave a brief introduction the pair shared a short presentation in which they read what was part travelogue/part low key manifesto over a series of slides taken on an orientation trip around Birmingham.
The presentation was well judged, unusual without being flash, poetic without being self-congratulatory, modest in that they hid them behind their text, yet also open in their willingness to ‘be arty’ and put themselves on the line in that way. The crowd were behind them and appreciative. It’s a long journey for them but all seems set fair.
An interesting aspect of the evening was the number of people who were up from London. Laura and Harun have most recently been working at Battersea Arts Centre and seemed to bring a fair crowd of followers with them. The mingling of local and London talent was provocative. With the Fierce pair intending to live in Birmingham this will hopefully be a step towards a further opening of the boarders between the two cities.
It was a good evening to catch up with, and meet for the first time, many people who should be known. In particular I was pleased to meet Geraldine Pilgrim, whose former company Hesitate and Demonstrate scholars of British Physical/Visual Theatre will be familiar with by name if nothing more. She was great to talk with and so, taking a wild punt, I presumed she must know the excellent Alan Dix, who we met properly for the first time a couple of weeks ago in Montpellier. I guessed they must have been part of the Leeds Performance axis in the early 80s. Sure enough they know each other well and I’m left marvelling what must have been kicking off in Leeds around that time, knowing that ‘our very own’ Andy Watson/Walker speaks fondly of it and was inspired by that whole scene. Maybe contemporary Birmingham can emulate that same urgent vibrancy in some small way…