On the Rocks, the largest student-run arts festival in the UK, hosts a variety of theatrical, dramatic and cultural events in the hope of broadening the interpretation of what art is. As such, a handful of these events will be “breaking the fourth wall”, so to speak, and allowing students across the University to interact with and explore various aspects of culture and art. These events are sure to be engaging and informative methods of furthering our cultural exploration.
All of the following events have been organised by the On the Rocks Events Subcommittee, so admiration principally must be given to their vision and desire to promote and advance the common perception of elitist culture by opening the festival to an even wider community.
The first of these events was Creative Careers on the 5 April at 5 pm. In a collaboration with the Careers Centre, On the Rocks brought together professionals and successful alumni at the Byre Studio to help inspire and guide St Andrews’ budding young artists. Whether students are interested in the more common dramatic arts of theatre and dance, or creative writing, or even filmmaking, the OTR team managed to find a specialised expert or enthusiast to advise and answer questions, wherever your artistic ambition is taking you. Indeed, all those in attendance are one step closer to great careers in the arts, thanks to the helpful insight this collaboration offered our future talent. Consequently, praise must be given to the direct and objective work OTR does in helping and influencing future performers in their pursuit of culture and expression.
A poetry masterclass was then offered on 10 April at 4 pm led by Dr Riccobono and Fiona Gilmour. They wanted to “use poetry reading and discussion, through its potential ability to facilitate pause, mutual listening and storytelling, to strengthen wellbeing.” Supported by the St Andrews Poetry Forum, the workshop acted as a valuable insight into the many layers and varieties of verse as well as the seemingly endless plethora of interpretations available and, subsequently, such a discussion was inspirational to everyone who attended. But the greatest selling point of this forum was the idea that poetry is more important than ever as a private cathartic release in an ostensibly ever-intensifying and stressful society.
On 12 April at 5 pm, the Byre Studio will host what it has styled “an unconventional journey through the history of art,” bringing together academics from both the Art History and Social Anthropology departments. This debate promises to be inspiring and provocative in equal measure. Aptly titled Beyond Aesthetics, the discussion hopes to explore the various and contradictory definitions of this universal and timeless branch of philosophy, uncovering “the hidden implications of art in the delineation of two different academic approaches”. As such, historians, philosophers, anthropologists and classicists should take particular note of this event, as it will explore a focus which pertains to many subjects and, thus, we must congratulate the On the Rocks team for their attempt at widening culture and art beyond the humanities to the social sciences as well. Of course, I personally cannot promise that this debate will answer the question, “what is beauty?” but it certainly promises to be a discussion that will widen and restore new life to the topic.
Consequently, all of these events when viewed together look set to ultimately expand our impression of culture beyond the typical restraint of the stage and provide a more tangible, approachable and human education of what art is. These events promise to be educational insights and experiences that can only enhance our cultural awareness, subtly diversify the already colourful tapestry that is the On the Rocks Arts Festival.