#project001: Creative Riot

boom projects' Creative Riot brought together performance parkour, space graffiti and more in a showcase of untapped talent, the legacy of which challenges much more than just our artistic tastes.
words – rachel arthur
photography —  jaz jagdeo & holly wesley

“We need a platform. A showcase, a network, a stage. We’re here, we’re doing it, we’re making the magic. But we need to be seen. We need to start something. It needs to happen. We need to riot.”  

With these fateful words, the plan was set for our first community project – a riotous showcase of extraordinary performers, highlighting the strength of Edinburgh’s untapped talent. Bringing together rap and grime, performance parkour, theatre, spoken word and space graffiti, the Creative Riot sought to smash through barriers of accessibility to the arts and amplify the work of a broad spectrum of creatives, regardless of personal challenges too often insurmountable in the search for showcase. 

Taking place in the formerly derelict Leith Theatre, the Creative Riot formed part of ArchiFringe’s 2017 programme. Reinvigorating the iconic space with custom props, lighting and staging, the event breathed new life into the formerly grand theatre whilst crafting the perfect setting for a live community block party unlike any other held before: the performers hidden amongst the audience to question just why so many talents are so often overlooked whilst in plain sight.

Musical fanfares came courtesy of Edinburgh’s thriving rap and grime scene, including creative collective 131 Northside as well as solo act Chriis Wood. Ellen Renton’s hauntingly beautiful spoken word was juxtaposed with Zesh’s hard hitting bars to address the confines of artistic discipline, whilst also interrogating the barriers of status, education and background so often prevalent within our day to day lives. Theatrical interludes were performed by up and coming talents Dominique Haig and Christie Russell-Brown, setting the tone for a questioning of creativity as we know it, wrapped up in a fresh, raw showcase of incredible talent.

"We're products of this place that we're livin' in kids actin' violent but inside they feel like givin' in" ― Zesh

High octane action was injected thanks to Edinburgh Parkour, who showcased their belief in the power of movement to bring balance to our day to day lives. Dance company Mini Jackers’ piece, ‘Frequencies,’ toyed with the concept that different areas of the city operate on different frequencies – making communication, understanding and empathy difficult, if not impossible. Amidst this sensory overload, Studio Ember’s specially commissioned soundtrack kept the beat, whilst providing the perfect backdrop for Azad Adam’s take on space graffiti – challenging long held perceptions and highlighting the possibilities created with the right support.

Including the Creative Riot performers in the event planning and management ensured transferable skills were delivered to all, forming the beginning of a lasting legacy to support a diverse, inclusive creative landscape. Using creativity to inspire and empower, the Creative Riot offered a platform to showcase talent of all forms – regardless of discipline, experience or nature. 

“Each of us is like all of us and like no one else” ― Kamand Kojouri

Performers; 131 Northside, Zesh, Chriis Wood, Mini Jackers, Edinburgh Parkour, Dominique Haig & Christie Brown, Ellen Renton, Studio Ember and Azad Adams 

Supporters; WPK Architects, Civic Soup, The Edinburgh Tool Library, Firstport, CGI, Flow State Music and the Leith Theatre Trust, along with hard working volunteers

Support our work to rewrite the story of dementia

We're currently channeling all profits from our print magazine and creative studio into our work to rewrite the story of dementia.

If you enjoyed this article, please further support this work by making a one-off donation or becoming a boom saloon member. By doing so, you will further our ability to democratise creativity for good and join a global movement of those who incite genuine change.