including. ofcourse. the lowering of the age ofconsent to bring it in line with heterosexuals. i suspect that enough people have now had their eyes opened as to how badly treated homosexuals are that there would be quite a lot ofsupport in Parliament for the very simplest of rights: right of tenure in a council house when your partner dies which you don‘t have at the moment unless you‘re married. That would bean advantage for heterosexual couples who are living together but who aren‘t married.‘
Since coming out McKellen has described himselfas feeling ‘buoyant. self-content and deeply happy‘. The professional repercussions of his actions do not seem to have had a bearing on his decision. ‘All l‘ve done is given press interviews to say I‘m gay. There‘s nobody I know didn't know i was gay so it‘s not such a very great leap for me. lfa modern-day Rock Hudson in his prime were to announce that he was gay then his films would certainly be boycotted in the mid-West and TV series would probably lose the sponsorship. l think that I shall find I'm not going to be cast as a romantic leading man in films. maybe ifthere‘s a kinky uncle and Dirk Bogarde is considered too old . . .’
After the current tour of/leting .S‘hakespeare. McKellen is scheduled to return to the West End in Alan Ayckbourn's new play Hence/‘orward. The next step in his role as a gay activist is. he feels. to persuade other prominent homosexuals to follow his act of going public. ‘1 think the sort of people I would like to persuade to come out are people in society who are. in generally accepted terms. successful. Not necessarily famous nor celebrated but respected pillars of the community. it is ridiculous that we can't name a single gay judge. We can only name one gay Member of Parliament when i am told by any reckoning there are between 40 and of) living with someone of their own sex. [don‘t know of any openly gay matrons but there must be some. ldon‘t really see what difference it would make to the careers of some of my contemporaries and 1m going to have a go at them. I‘ve already had a go at a number of people and the usual answer to this is it‘s nobody else’s business. That‘s quite true. But in that case why does the Government insist on interfering? Why does the press insist on interfering if it isn‘t anyone‘s business? We are not yet in that position where we can say it‘s no one‘s business.‘
Acting Shakespeare can be seen at the King 's Theatre Glasgow on May 12 and 13 and at the Lyceum in Edinburgh on May 29. Clause 28 — The Final Fling. a Lesbian and Gay Solidarity Festival. takes place at the Ross Bandstand in Edinburgh 's Princess Street Gardens on May 28
, from 1.30 to 5.30pm. Details are available from the Scottish Homosexual Action Group. c/o Blue Moon Cafe. 58a Broughton Street, Edinburgh EH13SA. 03] 556 8897.
12The List 13—26 May 1988
MEAN CITY 0R
Glasgow’s miles better. Or is it? As 7:84 Scotland mount their stage adaptation of No Mean City. the harsh novel about the razor gangs of the thirties. Andrew Burnet talks to director David 1 layman about the portrayal of the city that book and play offer. and how it relates to the city‘s image today. Meanwhile many local groups present plays in community venues exploring periods of Glasgow‘s past. We investigate the kaleidoscope of views of the Dear Green Place and City of Culture on offer around the city.
‘Appalling. sensationalist. morally reprehensible and largely responsible for (ilasgow's adverse image.‘
Director David llayman is talking about No Mean ('ily. the novel from which 7:84 Scotland‘s production for
Mayfcst this year is adapted. So why
do the show'.’
‘We want to look at that macho-man myth. and encourage our audience to see it in a new light.‘ says l layman. A. Mc.-\rthur and ll. Kingsley Long‘s novel. first published in l‘)5(i. gives a bleak and brutal view of the (iorbals in the 1930s. from a narrative viewpoint of great moral superiority. Johnnie Stark. the anti-hero. is an archetypal urban thug. winning his reputation and the title Razor King. through unrelenting viciousness. The story of his rise and eventual fall is certainly Compelling and perhaps believable. but is it fair'.’ I asked I layman about comparisons with Jimmy Boyle. the real life ( iorbals gangleader of the Wolls. whom i layman himself portrayed in 'l'om McGrath's play The Hard .llan in 1977 and again in SCotlis‘h 'l‘elevision’s xl Sense of
Freedom. He feels the two are not that similar. "The thing with Boyle was that there was a purpose behind the acts of violence he committed: making money that way was what he was into. With Stark it’s gratuitous— he's just into slashing people.‘
In contrast with last year's production of The (Iorbals Story (Robert McLeis‘h‘s play. which showed tenement life in Glasgow in an altogether more positive light). llayman reveals that he will be avoiding naturalism. in favour of a stylised ensemble approach. designed to provide a commentary on the action. ‘Alex Norton's script is a straightforward. faithful adaptation. which we‘re using as a starting point.‘ he explains. ‘We follow the story of the book. with all its violence. but it would be morally wrong not to comment on it.’
There is. however. one aspect of the novel which he feels deserves highlighting. The social and physical deprivation of the slums described by McArthur and Long has. he says. improved little in fifty years. ‘In some parts of Glasgow people still live with damp pouring down the walls and sticks for furniture. (ilasgow‘s Miles Better is just a veneer — the situation fora lot of people hasn‘t got any better at all.‘
Tickets for No Mean ( 'in are already selling fast — clearly the book's popularity has contributed to this predictable success. If David l layman rejects the image of (ilasgow presented by the novel. what image does he intend the play to present'.’ ‘lt‘s not for the show to do that. It‘s a dramatisation ofthe novel.‘ l le points out of the window. "l’hat's what (ilasgow‘s like.‘
.Vo .llean ( 'it_\' opens at Kings Theatre on I () .llay. See Listings.
OPEN PE-EN/BRIDGETON WOMEN’S GROUP: SEE WED 18. Pam Harper, long-term member of Bridgeton Women’s Group, based Open Pe-en on her own experience of Glasgow’s East End in the 1930s. Ms Harper herself narrates, guiding the audience through a series of cheerful anecdotes to paint an affectionate view of life in a single-end tenement. Humour is intertwined with pointed social comment about poverty and deprivation, however—the sad story of pawning Uncle's suits, for example. The company is made up of local women, boys and girls from John Street Secondary School and a dog by the name of Varga.
THE FLITTIN‘IIDLE HANDS: END THURS 12. In The Flittin‘ by Doreen McArdle, the members of a family leaving their one-room-and-kitchen in Maryhill to take up more spacious accommodation in Calder reflect nostalgically on the Glasgow of 1960, where community spirit is maintained via a downstairs window and everyone has a friendly word to contribute. Director and actress Cathy Gillespie, who helped form Idle Hands-a group made up mainly of unemployed workers from South West Glasgow — describes The Flittin’ as “light-hearted and non-political’.
FLAXEN ORE/MARYHILL BURGH HALL
DRAMA PROJECT: ENDS THURS 12. Christopher Burton's Flaxen Ore recreates the days between the opening of the Forth and Clyde Canal and the arrival of the ‘iron horse’. which rendered the canal (and those who worked on it) redundant. Flaxen Ore is a dramatic re-working of real events during the calico workers' strike of 1837, when a young picket was killed. Director Damian Cruden emphasises the melodramatic and optimistic elements of the play by making bold caricatures of certain characters and framing the show with a Dickensian commentary.
THE BOYS FROM BONNYMUlR/JUST US THEATRE COMPANY: SEE WED 18. Tom Lannon’s The Boys From Bonnymuir, like Flaxen Ore, is also based on historical fact, this time telling an ugly story of naive heroism crushed by deceitful manipulation. In 1820, a workers’ uprising took place whose purpose was to establish a new provisional government in Edinburgh. Twenty-two meagrer armed men marched from Glasgow to meet reinforcements near Falkirlt, but their bravery was in vain: the entire plan was a trap contrived by Government agents. Just Us Theatre Company from Hamilton enjoyed success last year with Anne-Marie di Mambro's Dixon’s Has Blasted. This year they hope to
create a rigorously simple, but warm and humane production of Lannon's lament forthe Bonnymuir radicals. WHERE THE GREEN GRASS GROWS/RIOT ACT: SEE FRI 13. Riot Act, a company based in Clydebank U840 Centre, go back to the 60s with their play about the effects on a family involved in the huge shift in population from the city centre to the new housing schemes.
l The Clyde is Red/Theatre Pkf. See Fri 13, main diary. Theatre Pkf present George Byatt's poemplay set in a fantastic future when the people of Glasgow learn to walk on water— to the distress of the authoritarian government, who take extreme measures to hide the fact.
I The Celtic Story/Wildcat. See Fri 13, main diary. A view of Glasgow from the terraces of Parkhead. Wildcat‘s celebration of a hundred years of Celtic Football Club reflects the changing faces of Glasgow over the years throught the eyes of the fans. See Review.
I Politics in the Park/Words Beyond Words. See Fri 13, main diary. Life on a Glasgow park bench, as two elderly sisters. the one raunchy, the other reserved, meet and exchange gossip in lain Heggie’s moving and very funny short play.