Roam

Edinburgh International Airport

March-April 2006

Roam was Grid Iron’s tenth anniversary production and its most ambitious to date. Set in the check-in desks, departure lounges, immigration areas and baggage carrousels of Edinburgh International Airport, Roam mused on the contemporary phenomenon of mass global air travel. In questioning what constructs our national identity, and our sense of home, it challenged global legal and political systems that seek to define the individual purely by which passport they carry or by their physical appearance.

The production was also a celebration of the (perhaps now fading) glamour of air travel, and the possibilities of human connection in the global village. Roam brought together Grid Iron’s most multinational company to date, embracing artists and non-professional performers from Lebanon, Chile, the Roma community, the Basque Country, Iraq, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Fiji, Curacao, Hungary, Germany, Australia, Ireland, England and Scotland.

The production was the result of an initial workshop in February 05, a two week workshop in January 06 and an intensive five-week rehearsal period in March-April 06. The production was only made possible on this scale through the collaboration and co-production with the National Theatre of Scotland, under the artistic directorship of Vicky Featherstone.

Roam was in development since 1998 but gained its politicised content after the company’s work in the Middle East. In drawing upon the personal experiences of the company it harked back to techniques used in Gargantua (1998). Logistically it was the toughest challenge yet for the company and became the first full theatre production in the world to utilise both sides of the airside/landside boundary for performance.

Mark Brown, Scotland on Sunday

The performances of the superb international cast are so convincing, the collectively devised script so poetic and sharp. . .director Ben Harrison integrates top class live and recorded music, moving and still images and fantastic set designs into a truly high-flying production.

Mark Fisher, The Sunday Times

As politically pertinent as it is thrilling, and one more highlight in Grid Iron’s glittering 10-year career. . .an imaginative flight, rich in detail and deep in philosophical thought. It is a soaraway success.

Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

One of the chief joys is that you’re not always sure what you are seeing is part of the show or just real life. This melting of reality into absurdity is beautifully done. . .its success can be measured by the fact that although you actually never depart the airport you feel as if you’ve been somewhere exotic and special.

Keith Bruce, The Herald

In a class of its own for site-specific work, the technical execution of Roam is astonishing. . .There is not an aspect of the air travel experience that is not used in the service of director Ben Harrison’s narrative. . .Roam is a sensational experience.

Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman

a lyrical, poetic, erotic and sometimes comic meditation on the fate of a group of ordinary travellers. . .the superb quality of the performances and of the music. . .the sharpness with which this show identifies the airport as one of the key points where post-modern issues of identity, entitlement and belonging are played out- matched by Grid Iron’s sheer practical genius in weaving its drama through the structures and spaces of a working airport- makes this vital and important 21st-century theatre, which should perhaps be re-enacted in every international airport on earth.