"ALL you need to be is over 50 and up for trying something.” It’s An invitation those of us of a “certain age” may feel is daunting but all you need is to have the flame lit.

Today, Flame Up! arrives at the Centre of Contemporary Arts (CCA), Glasgow with a bunch of guerrilla artists aged 50 and over marauding with a collective purpose. At the helm of this collaboration is the artistic director of Tricky Hat Productions, Fiona Miller, who is a passionate advocate of this fast-paced way of working.

I caught up with Fiona to explore the concept and the draw of The Flames. Describing how it all came about, she said: “We got money from Creative Scotland to pilot an idea of a guerrilla session.”

Thankfully, before I could ask, Miller explained: “A guerrilla session is just asking two questions – who is interested and what have you got to say – over an hour and a half where people can come along and just find out what we do.”

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Once you have signed up, the process is quick and dynamic. Miller said: “All we know when we start is we will be doing a performance on a particular day – that’s all.”

Miller curates the stories, ideas and performances into two shows – a matinee and an evening. At the CCA we are invited to join The Flames for Flame Up! which is as she explains: “A number of these guerrilla sessions from different parts of Scotland.

“This year we have done Flame Up in Edinburgh at Summerhall then the Regal in Bathgate and now we are doing the CCA in Glasgow. At the end of June, it’s Nairn Community and Arts Centre.”

The guerrilla concept works towards the end product with Tricky Hat artists including a musician, a dance artist a video artist, a director and no scripts. Definitely no scripts. But there may be ladders. Miller says: “I don’t work with scripts.

“I like the freedom of this and the danger, and the risk.

“It is all a big risk, a joyous one, for everybody, and I just absolutely love that – all the artists do. We don’t work with sets or costume but use lighting and projection and sometimes we use ladders, although only if we have got time rehearse to them. The Flames work with us over five days. On the sixth we pull everything together, on the seventh day we do tech, dress and two performances. And that’s it.”

It is, of course, fuelled by endeavour and trust, in the process and each other. Miller says: “Within two sessions they are very tightly bonded because we know that is what the creative process does – it bonds people together really quickly. Whether you have done it 20 times or once, you go through exactly the same process as everybody else.”

The advantages of such an approach are obvious: “Firstly you don’t have time to think about it. We work with people’s stories, their hopes, their ideas and their dreams, and you’re not committing to a lot. Often people are at that point in their life where they can make a change, where they are not working any more or they are not carers any more or just couldn’t care less.

“There’s no right or wrong, whatever you do.”

A process of reconnecting to ourselves is what it’s all about: “Responding to people and interacting with people spontaneously in a completely different way and really just having a good laugh. The Flames is a really good laugh!”

As for the reactions: “People are always really surprised as they ask how is this ever going to be a show? The artists wrap round the performers. So, a story might become a movement, a piece of music might become a projection, and a story might be told directly to the audience.

“It is a kind of ensemble performance and people go ‘wow’ at the end of it. The audience are always really surprised by what they see.”

As to why it is only for the over-50s, Fiona explained: “Age Scotland and Age UK identified age stigma as starting at 50.”

It’s also a key time for people to find something new to do. “As we get older, people are really busy, don’t want to commit time and we thought how do you create something which keeps it fresh and new people can come into it.”

People can commit time to something which they may have never or always wanted to do. It clearly works: “Each guerrilla session always has new and returning Flames in it and we have about 150 Flames across Scotland and Japan.”

It’s a method of creating that benefits their own professional work as Miller explained further: “It is all about what the people are going to give us and we, the artists, respond to that. That totally feeds our creativity and that goes into other work that we do and then that feeds back into the Flames.”

It’s become a creative powerhouse in difficult times. Miller says: “During the pandemic we did 11 short films, upskilling 40 Flames to film and record themselves.”

As for Japan, while the pandemic intervened in The Flames’s international plans, they have collaborated fully: “We have made about six collaborative digital versions of live performances which are a mixture of music, voice, images, ideas and stories.”

Everyone is included, even if they are physically missing: “We have always included people who can’t be there because we can include them digitally.”

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If there was a metaphor to dispel the stereotype of someone of that certain age, there you have it. Tricky Hat’s unbridled enthusiasm channelled through Miller, screams more than just there is life left in any old dog yet.

This is surprise, joy, creation of a brand new playground and while tea, coffee and a wee glass of wine are on offer at the end of each show, it is clear there is far more to it than physical sustenance.

Performances at the CCA are at 4pm and 7pm today. For more see www.cca-glasgow.com/programme/flame-up