Up the Wall an outdoor live art event has been running for 5 years I've been in the North West for 3 so it's about time I actual attend one of these events. It's off to the Socialist Republic of Chester I go. I find myself in the car park of Chester Castle milling around with the rest of the crowd waiting to go in. I wasn't sure what to expect but the crowd seems to be made up from middle aged people with families, this isn't a criticism, it's just something I don't usually see.
While waiting sashes and info sheets are handed out, handed out to groups and being a group of one I hesitate in taking one fearing that I would miss out on some unknown performance experience later. We are let in I have no idea where to go (I haven't looked at the brochure) so I just wander towards the people dressed in quasi-futuristic clothes where I am invited to go on a journey, ok then. This is a piece called A Journey of a Home, more here http://confusedguff.blogspot.com/2011/10/two-destination-language-journey-of.html
Were back to the start and I'm off to look for a another experience so I wander around and come across three miniature theatre sets built into suitcase, the sets have narration coming from them but every time I try to concentrate someone comes along and sticks there face into the set It kind of breaks of my concentration. There is part of me that is restless expecting something to happen, especially when a Teutonic sounding language comes booming from the dark but nothing seems to be happening. I stumble into the back of a crowd and basically push my way to the front. This is Denis Buckley's piece and the gap between audience and performer seems huge, I've come towards the end and I can't remember much about the piece other then he sets stuff on fire and storms out dragging his metal suitcase behind him the crowd stand where they are.
I turn around and see people gathered under a neon sign looking at some kind off I don't know but there's a candy floss machine and a steward cheerfully trying to encourage people to move on this isn't that kind of piece. I wander around they are some installations on the wall they don't really capture my imagination, they both seem to about the English/Welsh border and having lived on both sides of the border I don't really care. Although I do wonder if I should break out into: Sosban Fach (http://youtu.be/W5TN26-8pTw). Also on the wall is Marcus Orlandi where behind iron gates a character sits hunched on steps trapped by the physical space and the pleading female voice that haunts the castle wall, there's something effecting in this simple quiet piece.
After a little more wandering I begin to wonder if I'm doing this right, I don't seem to be engaging with the work as much as I thought, not as much as the boy who leaps out of the way of the projected people of Andrew Bindley's Crossing which makes the piece more alive somehow makes a better connection between the intersection of real and imagined. Then I join the queue for the Lab Collective's piece where there's a lot of complaining about having to queue, and I see what must be Laura Cooper's Inside the Line, which is why I think we were given the sashes at the start. Watching a small group of people form lines I wonder if there civilians or performers, I mainly wonder how to engage with the piece because there's something there I think I like.
It isn't long after that I leave and I have the feeling I haven't truly engaged with it all, or haven't been given an opportunity to do, sentiments which have appeared on Up the Wall's comment board. I left feeling that I had missed out on something, but I don't know what.