When Glam meets Marx: A theatrical dialogue on radical politics

Two glam rocking academics use rock & roll magic with radical history to find a solution to the social problems of today

RADICAL POLITICS AND THEATRE have had a long and established relationship around the world and in Scotland.

So it made sense to a couple of academics turned artists, from the school of culture and creative arts at the University of Glasgow, to express the idea of radical policy through dramatic dialogue.

Glasgow Glam Rock Dialogues 3 called the Commune is a theatre production that will tackle issues as wide-ranging as the idea of a citizen’s income to the history of radical action during the famed Paris Commune.

Taking place on Friday 3 March at the Gilmorehill centre in Glasgow, David Archibald and Carl Lavery will bring to life the personas of glam rock legends Marc Bolan and Suzie Quatro as they think through radical policies on stage.

“If you look at the way the world is developing, there are a mass of challenging that are going to change the way we live and how we think.” David Archibald

Archibald who described the event as “perform thinking” to CommonSpace said: “The dialogic nature of the production came from both of us [David and Carl] having conversations about certain ideas.

“If you look at the way the world is developing, there are a mass of challenging that are going to change the way we live and how we think. So we had conversations about how we understand labour and the world of work. We theorised the concept of work.”

David Archibald is a senior lecturer in theatre, film and television studies at the University of Glasgow and Carl Lavery, professor of theatre performance both have written previous works relating to the topics of work, luxury and communal living. The first work, rapturously received, looked at the idea of a citizens income and how it could transforms people’s relationships with work structures. 

But why on earth would two academics choose glam as a path to channel the areas of policy they’ve studied and feel empowered by? During the seventies, bands like Slade, T-Rex and Sweet looked towards an aesthetic of decadence and sensual pleasure, what some might call indulgence, rather than any revolutionary ideal. However, Archibald said that the music genre’s ambiguity about gender gave freedom to its performers and listeners.

This was coupled with himself and Lavery finding an article in a culture journal that claimed a neoliberal university would be content with academics who behaved like big rock stars. It’s where the idea to ground the play in the glam rock genre took off as first a jest and then an opportunity.

“We had conversations about how we understand labour and the world of work.” David Archibald

The starting point for the play is the Paris commune, an attempt by Parisian revolutionaries in 1871 that was violently repressed, where groups of workers across the city tried to set up a communal republic based on equality. It was ruthlessly crushed by the provisional French Government after lasting from March to May of that year. Using the history of this important event in the history of workers organisation and Europe the pair explore the role of radical art in theatre and film and talk about the future for communism and capitalism in the 21st century.

Archibald added: “But it’s quite unique as a piece because we didn't start off from a point of having or wanting to have a point to propagate. It much more interactive as an experience for the audience because you’re watching people having a dialogue which you, in turn, participate in.”

Picture courtesy of Glasgow Glam Rock Dialogues 

Check out what people are saying about how important CommonSpace is. Pledge your support today.

CommonSpace journalism is completely free from the influence of advertisers and is only possible with your continued support. Please contribute a monthly amount towards our costs. Build the Scotland you want to live in - support our new media.