whole new language in an attempt to free communication from habit — which had a curiously physically liberating effect on the actors. Later his company travelled through Africa. performing improvised pieces of theatre in villages — again an attempt to find universal channels ofcommunication. ‘The root experiments we did when we went to Africa were quite simply to go where you knew nobody and nobody knew you.‘ he says. ‘You started a form of theatrical performance. an improvisation and the aim was to try and find how you could break that invisible barrier. You had nothing to lean on except them and you.‘ Simplicity and integrity are Brook‘s hallmarks. There is a springy clarity to his writing. and he has the ability to make you feel that
Other such large scale. multi-use buildings currently being developed include the recently opened Princes Square. which houses retail and restaurant outlets in a neglected and dclapidated Victorian Square and has already lured up-market London-based fashion shops like Whistles and Katherine Ilamnett. In October Waterstones the booksellers will
you are the first person to discover something. The same quality seems to characterise his direction: actors talk of his uniqueness in enabling them to dig deep into themselves and jettison easy options.
‘The aim is to find how to be simple. how to be open and how to be accessible in sharing something in the theatre.‘ he says. talking about The Mahabharata. whose scale and diversity perhaps reﬂects the culmination of his work so far. The great Indian text is at once mythical and practical. ancient and modern. sacred and entertaining. ‘When Jean Claude Carriere and I first discovered The Mahabharata it seemed to us that we were encountering one of the great works of the world.‘ he says. ‘It works on so many levels. of which entertainment
. malnutritionand‘minimal plumbing' before the Second World War. In the post-war days the rehousing schemes which relied on now notorious tower blocks did little for the image of the city. or for those who had to live in them. But new construction plans are designed to bring life and work back into
is one. It IS an exciting entertainment. but it deals with all manner of human. social. important questions. It is about life and about living and about war. The reason it has existed for 3000 years and why in India it is constantly read and reread and discussed is that it‘s inexhaustible. You can take from it at any moment in your life what you bring to it. It can be told to children and they won‘t take all the difficult hidden levels. But they will take a lot. They may come back to it ten years later full of adolescent questions about life and find it full of answers.‘
It took Brook and Carriere several years to create a living piece of drama from the text and nine months of rehearsal to arrive at the stageing, which had to be as clear and inspirational as the original. ‘We come here to Glasgow and the basis of the work is to see how we can take a story that comes from the other end of the world. from India. from a very distant period. and communicate it to people in Glasgow,‘ points out Brook.
The production. hailed as ‘magical’ elsewere. has arrived in Glasgow due
to the determination on the part of those guests at the press conference who were wearing ties. Glasgow District Council‘s Festivals Unit were determined that the work should be seen in this country. The Unit‘s directors Bob Palmer and Neil Wallace quickly persuaded Peter Brook. ‘There are places that one goes to more happily and places that one goes to less happily.‘ he says. ‘And that depends on one thing only. which is the impression you get from the people organising. And I think in all our tour nothing has been so striking as when Neil and the others who had come from Glasgow came and started talking about our playing
Centre will be built on the car park adjacent to the Citizens Theatre. and a facelift for the Citz. whose facade has been stripped of much of its former 19th century glory. will be part of the overall design. The four stone ‘muses‘ (music. dance. drama. poetry) currently dwarfed in the Citz foyer will make a welcome return to the
here. It immediately made us feel we must accept this invitation.’
There was talk ofproducing it in London as well. but it proved impossible to find a suitable venue. The production needs a large. free. open space that either incorporates water and sand. or will happily accommodate it. It cost £75 .000 to convert the Old Transport Museum (see separate feature) and the money for the whole venture has come from Glasgow District and Strathclyde Regional Councils. the Arts Council ofGreat Britain. the Scottish Arts Council. and Renault Trucks. It is money well spent. having not only brought back to Britain one of the country‘s greatest directors. but also having offered the British public a chance to see apiece oftheatre that reaches across the world and back thousands of years. In other countries The Mahabharata‘s legacy has been a new. open theatre space. It would be wonderful to think that in this case too. Brook‘s production will leave behind it a permanent exciting new space — something entirely lacking in Scotland — that could become a centre for this sort of brave. experimental work. France finds £400,000 a year to enable Brook to do his work; it would be nice to think that Britain could take the importance and vitality of theatre at its best so seriously. (Sarah Hemming)
The Mahabharata runs until 1 7 May. See Theatre Listingsfor times. Peter Brook gives a lecture on 25 Apr at the RSA MD, Glasgow. An exhibition of photographs of th e cast by Peggy Jarrell Kaplan is on view (ticket holders only) at the Transport Museum throughout the run. The text of‘The Mahabharata'(£4. 95) and Peter Brook's new book ' The Shifting Point' ([14. 95) have/us! been published by Met/men.
| Courthouse Fashion Centre
have always been made between Glasgow and its old rival Edinburgh. but certainly in Glasgow the spirit ofoptimism seems to be filtering down to small businesses like the excellent firm ofglass designers. Glaushaus run by two women who have just secured their first London commission. Paddy IIigson‘s film company which
open in Glasgow their largest shop in Britain and plans for the riverside Broomiclaw area in the east end of the city were announced at the end oflast year with provision for offices. retail space and car parking. Perhaps the most imaginative
of all these multi-purpose schemes is the Courthouse Fashion Centre. This is a far-sighted project which makes use of the vacated Sherrif‘s Court. a big imposing building in centre of the Merchant City.Under its layers of grime it boasts a ‘8' listed 19th century exterior and by 1990 it will have been cleaned. renovated and re-designed to emerge as a fashion centre unique in Britain mixing shops. design studios. costume museum. catwalks. library and resource centre.
' The Courthouse is part ofa
major inner city regeneration in the Merchant City. a joint venture between the SDA. the District Council. and private enterprise. In the last few years a string of prestigious fashion outlets like the Warehouse. Cruise Clothes. Ichi-Ni-San and Scrimshaw‘s Hairdressers have been established and are putting life back into the area together with popular bars like the Cafe Gandolfi and Glasgow's only ‘inn'. Babbity Bowsters.
But it's not just the centre of the city that is seeing changes. The Gorbals. on the south side. has been transformed out ofall recognition since the years of poverty. unemployment.
The new Sherrlt Court. the most significant civic building project of the decade. has been built on the edge ofthe Gorbals and a £6 million Legal Services Centre. the first in Britain. is planned for the site opposite. The Procurator Fiscal‘s offices will be re-located here with the rest of the space to be let to law firms. A centralized secretarial. telex and fax facilities. available to tenants on a subscription basis. plus data processing. computerised research. a law library and ‘Resource Centre' and a call system with direct telecom link between the centre and the court to summon lawyers to court. will all be part ofthe services.
Edinburgh may be the traditional legal centre of Scotland. but it is in Glasgow that the profession is helping transform the city. The new
facade ofthc theatre where they
have been much missed by theatregoers since they were removed after the fire which destroyed the neighbouring Close Theatre. A new bar and restaurant are also planned for use by the office and Sherrif court workers during the day. and by theatregoers at night.
The Citizens will be presenting their first ever summer season this year. with extra funding coming from both the regional and district councils. and the season will begin with Lady Windermere's Fan during Maytest. Mayfest itself was given a big boost (after internal problems) with the appointment of Bill Burdett-Coutts (also artistic director ofthe Assembly Rooms during the Edinburgh Festival) earlier this year.
recently pulled back from near closure with the thriller Brand will start shooting a major 8-part series on popular culture for Channel-1 in June for transmission in October.
The astonishing transformation that epitomises Glasgow in the late 1980s has even been noticed by Tory rebel. Michael Ilestletine. In a report by him on last Monday's .N'ewsnight introduced quite blatantly as part of a continuing campaign to win him the highest office in the land should .‘vlrs'l‘ ever bow out. Ilesteltine spent a good deal of time glowing in reﬂected glory as he walked in front of a Glasgow backdrop.
Something really special must be happening to win over a Tory to a city that hasn't returned a Conservative to Westminster since goodness knows when. (Sally Kinnes).
The List 15 — 28 April 1988 9