Finest Cuts

May 6 2018 | By More

Anatomy breaks out

Alternative cabaret producer Anatomy is taking a trip away from its home in Summerhall this week to present two showcase performances at the Traverse.

Anatomy has been presenting grassroots, genre-defying performances at the Summerhall Anatomy Lecture Room for the last five years. And with each performance carrying a succession of warnings, from nudity to audience participation, it has of an edgy reputation.

Melanie Jordan in Sanitise. Pic Jassy Earl

On the surface, this week’s performances do nothing to relieve that perception, featuring everything from tactical action to bleak bouffon, from noise art to fart jokes, from opera to pop and ballet to biscuits. Audiences are told to expect “an explosion of everything you thought theatre could do”.

But is that perception of being edgy a fair one?

“I think we’re actually profoundly uninterested in being edgy!” Co-founder Harry Josephine Giles told Æ. “What Anatomy is about, to me, is tapping into the deep roots of cabaret and vaudeville as places to let your freak flag fly.

“Weird performance has always been a means of celebrating and surviving weird lives, long before there were diversity boxes to tick. Of course, titillating prurient and bougie sensibilities is a necessary byproduct of that, but if they pay for a ticket we can live with that.”

Early years

Besides its core events quarterly cabarets of performance acts from Scotland and further afield, Anatomy runs matinee performance-art events for the early years audience, champions disability accessibility in the arts and the integration of disability arts, and runs prestige events for venues and festivals around Scotland and further afield.

Palimpsest. Pic: Rich Dyson

The successes have not all been peripheral to the mainstream either. Anatomy staged the first scratch performances of Melanie Jordan and Caitlin Skinner’s Sanitise and Will Pickvance’s Anatomy of the Piano, both of which went on to win Fringe Firsts. And Sanitise is back for a brief outing this week.

Artists such as Moreno Solinas and Jack Webb who were supported by Anatomy in their earlier career stages have now gone on to tour internationally. At the same time, it has continued to nurture grassroots artists in Scotland, ensuring that the roots of the scene remain fertile.

bubbling cauldron

“What we’re interested in is joy,” adds Giles. “Sometimes that joy looks scary, and sometimes heart-wracking, but most often it’s about laughing through the terror of life.

“Over the past five years, the most consistent thing our international family of artists has said is how friendly our audiences are, and how much they laugh.

“What’s changing now, as our organisation grows and hustles for more funding, is that we’re trying to build bridges between the bubbling cauldron of experimental performance that’s often hidden from mainstream view, and the bigger stages and opportunities that larger venues and platforms can offer.

“We want more people to see this amazing work, and get excited by it.”

Anatomy: Finest Cuts
Featuring: PalimpsetCultured Mongrel DanceJordan & SkinnerRosa PostlethwaiteMoreno SolinasLewis SherlockXelís De Toro and Sara Zaltash.
Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED
Thursday 10 /Friday  11 May 2018
Evenings:  8pm.
Information and tickets:


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