Fringe 2018: We Are Ian

Words by David McVicar

Funny, engaging, political theatre makes us think about what governments should be able to control.

There is a very interesting show playing at the Adelaide Fringe called We Are Ian, which won the Best Theatre Award for Fringe – week two. It is about the last proper youth movement promulgated via music.

The ACID HOUSE MOVEMENT began in Chicago, where people in the poorer areas started buying cheap synthesisers and drum machines to create a whole new style of dance music – much harder edged than the disco music that prevailed. ‘Acid Trax’ by Pierre and Spanky is considered the first Acid House tune and how the genre was named.  It became an instant hit throughout the Chicago dance clubs. The music found its way to the UK, where the repetitive, bassy music went hand in hand with the drug of choice –ecstasy. Very soon, parties were popping up all over England, and in particular, in Manchester, where DJ’s would organise huge dance parties in the warehouses left empty by the decline of industry.

The UK in 1989 was marked by massive social division and unemployment under Margaret Thatcher. ‘Acid House’ transcended class and an entire generation came together in the “Second Summer of Love” and Acid House became the biggest youth movement since the 60’s. As the tabloid press began to sensationalise the dangers of the “Raves” and ecstasy, the mass gatherings of young people became a challenge to authority. Thatcher passed new laws in attempt to curb the revolution – including a new police unit dedicated to stopping parties. A movement that was hedonistic became political by default.

WeAreIan photographer MattAustin

In 1994, the UK government passed a bill banning parties of more than 20 people from playing a succession of repetitive beats. However, the movement had slowed down due to commercialisation. We Are Ian, is presented by In Bed With My Brother, a theatre company from Exeter made up of three best friends – Nora Alexander, Dora Lyn and Kat Cory. They use real life stories and this one is about Dora’s step dad, Ian Taylor, who is 47 and a former DJ from Manchester.

We Are Ian charts the rise of the rave movement through to its demise via Ian’s rumination on the period. The play compares the conservative politics of Thatcher’s reign to Britain’s current political shitstorm.

Ultimately, We Are Ian is about the power of young people to come together to create change, as witnessed recently in Australia with the fight for marriage equality. It’s about youth culture and politics, it’s about the current generation and the last, it’s about class and opportunity and it’s about dancing through the shit. Don’t miss it.

Until March 18 at The Parasol Lounge – Gluttony

Written by David McVicar – Theatre Director and Producer – Flinders University Graduate