Mairi Campbell and Kath Burlinson on getting Pulse to where it is now

Mairi Campbell and Kath Burlinson at the the List magazine's party at Summerhall, Edinburgh
Mairi Campbell and Kath Burlinson at the List magazine’s party at Summerhall, Edinburgh

Mairi Campbell and Authentic Artist Collective founder Kath Burlinson have been collaborating together since 2009. Their latest work Mairi Campbell: Pulse is running at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from 3-28 August.

In the second of this three-part series, Mairi and Kath talk about the highs and lows of working together, starting the journey of being an authentic artist, and the process of creating the show Pulse and getting it to where it is now.

What have been the highs and lows of working together?
Mairi: The massive high is the unfolding of this amazing journey that Kath and I are on and there’s more to come…
Lows. When the water stopped working (again!) at the cottage on Lismore, but really, nothing. It’s all good.

Kath: One high was hearing the audience’s responses after the R&D sharing at North Edinburgh Arts Centre – it was clear we were on to something. Something bigger than us was beginning to unfold. Lows: Mairi leaving her computer in the bar at the Tron, with all the shows cues, music, etc etc.

Why should more people start on the journey?
Mairi: It’s happening anyway. I suspect we’re all responding to some sort of evolutionary shift and looking for ways to integrate intense change inside and out.
Art is a great way of understanding ourselves and others – giving ourselves permission to explore without words has powerful medicine in it.

Kath: It’s not a ‘should’. People come to the Authentic Artist workshop, for example, through word of mouth, because they feel it’s the right time for them to find a new edge or explore new avenues of expression.

Favourite moment?
Mairi: Premiering the show at the Tron in Celtic Connections 2016
Swimming in the loch on Lismore on a hot day after intense work in the studio.

Kath: ditto above. Both magical experiences, though I was more nervous at the Tron and more tingly after the Loch.

Favourite blooper?
Mairi: Forgetting to pick up one of the participants of the course and leaving her on the pier for an hour and a half!

Kath: Yes, that was a good one! For me, wearing a VERY erotic T-shirt designed by a French artist to the Lismore Heritage Centre and bumping into some local farmers…

The process of creating Pulse and getting it to where it is now
Mairi: The show came from the music score and songs that Dave Gray and I made. I had an intense few months back in 2014 creating the tracks from a mix of me doing improv and Dave adding guitar and percussion and other stuff! Lots of good other stuff. I was so excited about the music and thought that it was more of a show than a gig, so set about seeing if I could get some funding to make the Pulse.

Creative Scotland has fortunately funded the making of the show, it’s a state funded show, so when that was in place it was full steam ahead to get the show made. Accessing the material was a fascinating process: we’d find the material through improvisation, then it was crafted, decisions were made, text was written and memorised, extended into physicality and animation of the space. We looked at the elements: what elements would we use to tell the story? Stepping, voice, viola live, recorded tracks, dance, animation/images, storytelling.

Kath: I often ask myself the question when making theatre – what does this piece want to be? It helps me to get out of the way somehow. In this case, it seemed that a clear narrative would help hold all the other elements we wanted to explore, allowing an audience easy access to the more unusual blend of music, visuals, song and animation. Mairi’s husband Dave Francis suggested we look at the Hero’s Journey and we found it really helpful as a structuring device we could adapt to our own ends.

Mairi Campbell: Pulse
3-28 AUG 14:25 (15:20), PREVIEWS: 3 & 4 / BSLI : 18 & 25, NO PERFORMANCE: 15 & 22
The Old Lab, Summerhall, Edinburgh, EH9 1PL

Buy Pulse tickets here:

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