On Thursday 24th November I came through to Edinburgh to go to 1st Ministers Question time at the Scottish Parliament. It’s not something I would recommend, as it gives one that uneasy feeling in the stomach that politics shouldn’t be like this. In a sentence, it’s a big, fat, snidey game and operates much like playground teasing and bullying.
That aside, it is quite entertaining – very entertaining, if you just enjoy the fact that these guys are putting on a bloody good show and don’t think about the fact that this is how your country is being run.
I was keen to find something that identified Alex Salmond, a way of typifying or caricaturing him. However, upon watching him in Parliament it is undeniable that he is a very astute politician. This is something I battle with. I dislike him because I dislike (however much of an open mind I have tried to keep throughout this project) nationalism. I think it is unimportant and blinds us to the things that are really important. Also, it unnerves me that the main objective of the SNP government is independence. It’s a bit like letting one of those single policy ‘Save Hartlepool Hospital’ parties run your country.
But the SNP have done good things. They have been a more successful government that Labour, and than the Lab-Lib coalition. They have gained popularity during their time in power, returning with a huge majority just this year. Whilst you can argue – and I would – that their main policy has failed, as there is now less support for independence, they have managed to maintain free university education, free healthcare for the elderly, no prescription charges and keep the EMA support for low-income 16-18 year olds. It’s a stark contrast to England.
So how can I be him? What is funny? What is poignant?
I’m not sure I found it, performance wise. All I could really find to draw on was Salmond’s annoying habit of answering every question with the umbrella ‘for the benefit of the Scottish people’, that and his absolute confidence in the fact that life will be better after independence. Which isn’t particularly clever/complex/brilliant to be honest.
Fereuse and Frazer came to parliament with me and we conducted a series of interviews, with the premise that they can ask any question and I will answer with, “for the benefit of the Scottish people” or “independence”. It was quite good fun, but windy and cold and we giggled a lot. This is a lazy edit for a bit of a lazy performance, as I need to play with the sound lots to get it all working with the questions in it etc. Sigh.
What I did enjoy, however, was becoming Alex Salmond visually and I have some great photos of that (see post below). In caricature it is all about finding the distinctive features and playing on them: in this case Salmond’s distinctive jowly face and large eyebrows. That and the fact that he is a wee fat man. It made me realise that actually, the physical appearance of Salmond is probably the most ridiculous thing about him. It’s something I’ve really enjoyed about this project, the Cindy Sherman-esque becoming of someone else and have been surprised at how malleable my face is. My voice, not so, but I can work on that.
So all in all, not my greatest piece of work during this project for a number of reasons. Big Man of Scotland number three, I hope I do you more (and less) justice next time. Feedback greatly appreciated. x