instant then it’s dark once more.’
‘It’s not a depressing play at all,‘ insists Rudman. ‘lt’s a play about not killing yourself.’
Rudman last toured to Scotland with the National Theatre’s production of Brighton Beach Memoirs, but he spent several years here as Artistic Director ofthe Traverse Theatre in the early seventies. Under his direction the theatre increased its audiences and decreased a substantial deficit ‘Apparently I’m considered the shrewd one.‘ he says, laughing at the idea. He puts his financial success down to a combination of luck and judgement.‘l never said let‘s put this on it‘ll make money. 1 just picked things that I thought were good - and very often they turned out to be
money spinners. And I let other people do things. which is a kind of Jim Haynes/Peter Hall view of running a theatre — as opposed to say the Germanic view which has to do with house-style.‘
Among the ‘other people doing things‘ were young playwrights who have since become significant figures in contemporary British theatre: David Hare. Howard Brenton. Trevor Griffiths, Howard Barker, Mustapha Matura. Snoo Wilson, Cecil Taylor and Stanley Eveling all had work premiered at the Traverse during Rudman‘s time. He remembers them as talented. determined young men. who didn‘t quite fit any category: ‘There was a group of them that I called the Sexy Young Men. because all they seemed to write about was sex! And ofcourse there were the angry young men. But Hare and Brenton and Griffiths never got a tag. I could think ofa few. though I doubt if they‘d be good enough.‘
Celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary this year. the Traverse remains one of foremost theatres for new work in the country. Rudman feels it is still one of the highest on the list for young talent. and. ifit is remarkable that it has not ossified. it is equally remarkable that it still exists at all. given that its history has frequently encompassed problems with funding and low audience attendance. ‘That‘s always been the case.‘ says Rudman. ‘When I was there a lot of people in Edinburgh didn‘t realise how valuable the Traverse was.‘
Once in the theatre Scottish audiences. Rudman feels (and he is by no means alone in this opinion). are particularly intelligent and attentive. ‘They‘re quite a bit more bullish than a London audience. And also more forgiving, I‘d say.‘ He is convinced that they will bring high standards to Waiting For Godot: ‘It‘ll probably be slammed as being too accessible in Scotland. I‘m always too accessible for Scotland — but then somebody had to be . . .‘
Waiting For Godot opens at Theatre Royal, Glasgow, on 8 March. See Theatre Listings.
As Glasgow’s new RSAMD officially opens, Roanna Benn, who recently left the old Academy, investigates the new building.
In July 1987 final year Drama Students ofthe Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama organised a Charity Gala Evening
dramatically entitled End ofAn Era.
It was a nostalgic evening: ex-students who had trodden the boards of the Athenaeum Theatre got together to pay it tribute for the last time. before the beautiful old building was put up for sale to the highest bidder. On 9 March this year a new era will officially begin. when the RSAMD‘s new building is opened by the college‘s patron. Her Royal Highness. the Queen Mother. The custom-built academy at the junction of Hope Street and Renfrew Street is the result ofa long period of planning. The desire for a new home for the Academy began way back in 1963: more space was needed to accommodate an increased student population. The ‘Old Building‘ in Mandela Place was proving to be too small and too
The new RSAMD building
dangerous. Dance classes had to be held in the basement. because ifthey were held in any of the upper rooms the whole building would shake in a terrifying and noisy way. One of the most common arguments heard resounding through the building was over who had right to a rehearsal room: ‘I left my tuba in here and just went out for a cup ofcoffee — so it‘s mine!‘ The new building, with its increased number of practice rooms, which must be booked in advance and entered with a key, promised to alleviate some of these problems. There were some reservations amongst students and staff. accustomed to the ornate old building (where the academy has existed since 1950) about how quickly people would adapt to the new premises. ‘1 was afraid ofthe traumatic effect it might have on students in the middle oftheir courses.‘ says Edward Argent, the
academy’s Director of Drama. ‘However, I am enormously impressed with how swiftly everybody, particularly the Stage Management staff and students, have got a hold of the place and taken advantage of the technology.
His office is on the ground ﬂoor, along with all the Drama department, the radio room, television studio and other Drama Offices.
The most impressive feature about the new building. however, is its performance areas. The new academy houses a concert hall and two theatres. The New Athenaeum is. following tradition, a proscenium arch theatre. It may lack the atmosphere of the old Athenaeum - the sound of the underground rumbling through productions was very much part of the character of the old theatre — but its technical superiority is outstanding.
For Edward Argent. however, the new Chandler Theatre (named after Colin Chandler, previous Director of Drama) presents the biggest single advantage of moving to the new building: ‘A lot ofstudents nowadays will begin their professional careers in small scale theatres, and for this reason the studio is going to be very valuable. It will also have an impact on the range and style ofpieces that the College will be able to present. and will generate new ideas in staging.‘
Here he touches on two new features of the academy. which will first be inaugurated by the ‘Festival ofOpening Events‘ that starts once the building has had its Royal Opening. The first new feature is the introduction of admission charges to student productions. ‘Admission charges are to be kept to a minimum. The main reason for charging is
because of the psycholgical effects,‘ explains Mr Argent. ‘We feel that audiences will take productions that much more seriously ifthey are actually paying for them. It also means that public productions are quite positively a breach between student training and the profession.‘
The second innovation for the school is the use of its theatres as public performance venues by visiting national companies. The ‘Festival ofOpening Events‘ includes the National Theatre Education presentation ofa workshop production of Fanshen by David Hare, and Dundee Repertory Theatre‘s premiere of Liz Lochhead‘s The Big Picture as part of Mayfest.
The RSAMD is unique among drama schools in the UK in that it is directly funded by the government (through the Scottish Education Department). The new building is one of the biggest commitments ever made by the government to this kind of education. Let us hope that the
college can repay the City of Glasgow for the site for the new building, by being a source of experimentation and enthusiasm for the Arts in Scotland. For details of shows, See Theatre Listings. For news on the future of the old building see RDS.
10The List 4— 17 March 1988