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SELKIE

2016, studio performance
Featuring Caitlin Fairlie & Jen Hart

'Selkie - a mythical creature that resembles a seal in the ocean but assumes a human form on land'

Photography: Aldo Ferrarello (December 2016, UnFix: Rebirth!, CCA Glasgow)

SELKIE is the debut performance of Craig Manson as a mythical creature: a re-imagining of an ancient Scottish story in the form of a modern day SeaWorld show. A nude, slimy seal/man hybrid performs flips, tricks and dances alongside two smiling women in wetsuits. Watch as Selkie flops on stage to perform for your pleasure; come onstage to feed him fish; watch him chase a shiny rubber ball to near exhaustion. As the performance progresses, the Selkie starts to 'learn' how to become human by interacting with the audience. By the end, the audience see the Selkie completely transformed as a human being based entirely on the people in the room. What begins as a cheeky critique of the human/animal divide soon evolves into an intimidating arena where the audience become the centre of their own attention.

"All three performers were a tremendous presence onstage and gave their all to create the ambient setting... manson demonstrated that he is an artist with a stage presence that shall graduate and flower into yet another great theatre maker"

Donald Stewart, FringeReview

SELKIE is a performance that has been adapted for club events and short cabaret slots as well as full-length studio performances. It is currently available for touring in a variety of contexts.

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BEAR

2017, durational performance

Photography: Julia Bauer (April 2017, //BUZZCUT//, The Pearce Institute, Glasgow)

BEAR is a performance of loving gestures by a man in a bear mask. Crawling through a floor of foliage, the bear offers gifts of flowers, cuddles and tinned salmon to everyone in the room. Birds chirp, branches creak in the breeze, a piano gently plays through the speakers. Each person is invited to have a moment of interaction with the bear through the act of being held - the bear offers to hold the entirety of a person's weight as they completely relax. As time progresses, the bear begins to stand upright and attempts to walk en pointe through the space in time with the piano music, simultaneously becoming a graceful man and a dancing bear.

This performance was an act of further research into Craig's work with animal-human relationships where he committed to behaving as a bear would for a total of four hours in an enclosed space. The work was the result of Craig's given identity in the LGBT community as a Bear - a large, hairy gay man who is expected to project an image of rugged masculinity. Through deliberately 'feminine' acts and imagery, Craig attempts to re-imagine this identity by creating a space that feels tender and offers a meditation on the pressures of contemporary masculinity, and the pursuit of connection within an increasingly commodified LGBT culture.

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DEER

2016, site-specific performance

Photography: Matthias Kremner (2016, The Wee Theatre Festival, Rasaay Island, Isle of Skye)

DEER is a short performance piece about the deer of Rasaay Island and Craig's experience of anxiety. Armed with a deer mask and berries for comfort, Craig tries to relate himself to the deer on the island and begins to behave as such, narrating what's going through his mind as he goes. Eventually this live narration becomes overwhelmed with emotion and over-stimulation, causing the deer to get too caught up in their own head to continue performing. Craig then reflects on his own experience of debilitating anxiety and the physical effects its had on him, attempting to use the deer as a way of relating to, or 'normalising', the symptoms he's experienced.

This piece was a short scratch of experimenting with the use of text in relation to Craig's work on human-animal relationships, which had so far been body-based. First performed on-site, it was subsequently re-performed at Sabhal Mor Ostaig on the same evening. This performance was also part of Craig's interest in making contemporary performance practice more accessible to the Highlands & Islands of Scotland.