Art & Events Interview Caro Meets

Ruby Glaskin: Swiss Selection Live

By | Published on Friday 4 March 2022

It’s been rather exciting to see Brixton House open its doors recently, especially as its line up looks so promising, and this week we can look forward to a showcase of work by Swiss artists – Swiss Selection Live – brought to you by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.

The short season consists of three events: installation ‘Binaural Views Of Switzerland’ (pictured), interactive performance ‘Here & Now’, and comedy/theatre piece ‘Black Off’.

To find out more about the showcase, I spoke to producer Ruby Glaskin.

CM: Can we start by taking a look at each of the elements that are on as part of Swiss Selection Live? Can you begin by telling us a bit about the installation ‘Binaural Views Of Switzerland’?
RG: ‘Binaural Views Of Switzerland’ is about the impact that humans and mass tourism has had on our environment. But it’s also about Switzerland and Britain! It’s based on photographs taken by British photographer William England of Swiss landscapes. Now nearly 150 years later a Swiss artist has re-captured these photos and you can really see the changes in the landscape! It’s cool as well because Alan has recorded the sound of the place so you can listen to it binaurally as you look at the photo.

CM: ‘Here & Now’ is an interactive performance, isn’t it? Can you fill us in on what to expect from that?
RG: Yes, it’s really fun – and it’s not a scary audience interaction either – I know some people get really put off! Trân asks the audience what they really want from this show, from them. You get to pick and choose what bits come next and the kind of experience you want – it’s kind of like a choose your own adventure book but in theatre form! But really ‘Here & Now’ does a great job of reminding you how special live performance can be and how important it is to be part of an audience.

CM: The final show in the line up is ‘Black Off’. How would you describe that in terms of its genre and themes?
RG: ‘Black Off’ really mixes stand-up comedy, theatre and music, it’s got a bit of everything. The whole show is accompanied by a live band as Ntando delivers punchlines to the audience. It’s about the hidden racism in everyday life and how Ntando – as a black South African woman in Europe – uses performance to empower her and others. It’s a really powerful show and the way Ntando turns the tables on situations and conversations we might have experienced at some point in our lives is really clever and provocative. Oh and it’s also totally punk – you’ll see what I mean when Vera Black comes on stage!

CM: Are there any themes connecting the three shows, other than the fact that they’re Swiss?
RG: ​We wanted to programme three pieces of work that were urgent, challenging and current for the times we are living in now

CM: How did you go about programming this? Was there a selection process or were the creatives commissioned?
RG: The journey started back in 2019 would you believe?! But of course the small matter of a global pandemic delayed things slightly. The pieces were chosen through a selection process, and like I just mentioned, our criteria was work that felt really urgent for the times we are living in – and, despite all three pieces being selected before the pandemic, I think all have, sadly, become more so!

CM: What inspired you to showcase Swiss Artists in the UK?
RG: Throughout the pandemic we’ve always been adamant that international exchange is still possible and that it remains important to maintain an international outlook, even when worlds have felt small and closed. So this was really the driving force behind making the Swiss Selection Live happen. ​

CM: I know you’ve presented showcases at the Edinburgh Fringe in the past – though those will, of course, have been stymied by the pandemic – do you have plans to go back there?
RG: ​Yes absolutely, we cannot wait to get back to Edinburgh! We’ll be taking three new pieces of work to the Fringe this year, we’ve just confirmed the final selection – so watch out for Swiss Selection Edinburgh 2022.

CM: Do you expect to stage future showcases in London also? ​
RG: We would love to. It’s been great to present Swiss artists at London’s newest theatre – Brixton House – and we think there’s real appetite for more international work in the capital. So fingers crossed for 2023!

CM: Can we talk about you now..? How did you come to be working in the arts? Was it what you always wanted to do? ​
RG: Yeah I guess it was. I grew up in Brighton and so their May festival was a big part of my childhood – seeing the shows in that really opened my eyes to what performance can be. So I went to drama school and then started my own theatre company, Milk Presents, with some friends, and that’s when I really started to learn what producing was!

CM: What have been the highlights of your working life so far?
RG: ​Definitely taking work to the Edinburgh Fringe, working internationally and meeting so many amazing artists and creatives from around the world.

CM: What aims and ambitions do you have for the future? ​
RG: I would love to keep connecting people. As a producer it’s a total privilege to connect artists, programmers and other producers together, and knowing that that might be the beginning of a new idea! Especially internationally, and I think that’s what I want the Swiss Selection Live to be – an opportunity for people from different countries to connect and exchange.

CM: What’s coming up next for you after this? ​
RG: Swiss Selection Edinburgh 2022! Watch this space!

The Swiss Selection Live events take place at Brixton House from 8-12 Mar. See the venue listings here for more information and to book tickets.

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