A little overtwo years ago Glasgow's Third Eye Centre hosted a performance of a children's play by TAG Theatre Company. followed by a debate about the company’s work. Midway through the discussionl vividly remembera teacher from a Glasgow secondary school giving an impassioned declaration of faith in TAG. She described how tough teenagers. dragged along tothe production being toured to the school. had enjoyed it so much thatthey had subsequently begged to be taken to the theatre.
The production was Romeo and Juliet — a soppy play by boring old Shakespeare— brought wonderfully close to home for secondary school children by John Clifford‘s clear. no-nonsense adaptation and a punchy. youthful production. ltwas directed by Ian Brown. then TAG's new artistic director. and it is perhaps fitting that he bows out olthe job—to become artistic director at the Traverse - with another Shakespeare play. A Midsummer Night‘s Dream.
‘lt‘s one olthe Shakespeare plays l've wantedto dotora verylong time.‘ says Brown. ‘Because Peter Brook's version was so important to me when I saw it.‘ He saw Brook‘s seminal. early-Seventies production fivetimes- ‘l thinkl became a Dream groupie .. .' he says. laughing-and feels that it has taken till
now to work its waythrough his system. His own production will aim for something of the simplicity and direct theatricality of Brook‘s. but is definitely taking on a life of its own. “My initial plan was to make itvery. very light. But it hasn't quite come out that way. . . lthink it'savery interesting play. lthink maybe it is being
into another sphere of
TAG should continue to
rediscovered’now asa serious comedy— more than thejolly romp it‘s often seen as.‘
Since he has been atTAG. Brown has established a reputation for clear. fresh and very vivid Shakespeare productions- but this isjust one strand of the company‘s work. When he took over. TAG (Theatre About Glasgow) had already established a strong reputation under Ian Wooldridge (now at Edinburgh's Lyceum). Brown consolidated and built on this. expanding the age groups dealt with on the company's school tours and introducing more productions toured to adult audiences. The company has tackled plays ranging
j" sf). lanBrown N
lrom Piaf to Hard Timesto an adaptation olJoan Lingard's Twelfth olJuly. most recently winning critical praise fora compact. atmospheric adaptation of Great Expectations. that used
His concern from now on , will be specifically new | work-the Traverse Theatre‘s raison d‘etre — and he relishesthe prospect. ‘I think it'stime for me and for TAG to have a change. lt‘staught mea greatdeal. It‘s launched me
action and I've enjoyed every aspect of it. But I think
expand into different areas. What's so good aboutAlan (Lyddiard) gettingthe job is that through him it could be pushing backthe boundaries between community and professional work. ‘
Brown packs his bags and movesto Edinburgh atthe end of this month. and ‘ doesn'tseem too sad atthe idea of leaving the City of Culture. ‘I‘d like to have done itbetter-althoughl am quite proud of some of the things I‘ve done. What l'm really pleased aboutis that TAG‘s in a healthy state for my successor.‘ (Sarah Hemming). AMidsummerNight's Dream opens atThe Tron Theatre. Glasgow on 21 Sept and then tours Scotland. See Theatre
Roman Polanski‘s forte has always been anxiety: it permeates his best work. a tangible. twitchy unrest which communicates itself in palpable lormlromthe screen. Frantic. his latest film. does notquite live up to the implicit lever pitch of the title. but provides a beautifully observed portrait ofa man plunged deeperand deeperinto terminal anxiety. 3 perlormancelorwhich Harrison Ford. inthe absolute antithesis olhis Indiana Jonesrole. deserves considerably more credit than he has received.
Set in Paris. it casts Ford as Richard Walker. an American surgeon whose wife is mysteriously kidnapped from theirhotel. Thereafter. he is plunged into a nightmare of official doubtand unollicial danger. espionage and murder. asthe mysteryis slowly unravelled. with the help ofthestreet-wise Michelle. played by Polanski's latestgirltriend. Emmanuelle Seigner.
‘We startedlromthe principlethattbe audience should neverknow any morethan Richard Walker does.‘ Polanksi explains. ‘This necessitated very rigid discipline. Each detail olthe plothad tobe justified andjustifiable. which made it very difficult to write. The clues which enable usto unravel a mystery are most often objects. The drama begins with suitcases being changed over. and every object that has a role inthe film has a definite function.
'Frantic takes place in the Paris of the 19805. a completely different Paris from that of Irma La Douce. Iwanted to show thetown as I know it. with its night life. its tourist and working class districts. its alley ways. its nightclubs. its hotels and cafes. butthe main part of thefilm was shot inthe studio. whichis generally easierand cheaper. lthink Paris is one ofthe most exciting places inthe world right now. and when Warners asked me ill would like to make afilm.l wantedto do ithere asa thriller. lwould like totry all genresS
Polanski seemsto have recovered from the disastrous reception olhis mis-conceived Pirates last year. justas he seemsto have taken in his stride the incredible series of misadventures which have beset his private life —lrom the murderolhis parentsin a concentration camp to the murderolhis wile by Charles Manson. and his own unsavoury involvement
in under-age sex scandals. Whateverhis private shortcomings. though. Polanski has been one of the majorfiguresin contemporary cinema. and if Frantic is not quite a full return to form. itsuggests he is at leastontheroad back. (Kenny Mathieson) Frantic opens in Glasgow and Edinburghthis week.
Nobody seems capable of describing the effect olthe Bow Gamelan Ensemble in perlormance. Words like spectacular. brilliant. extraordinary are followed byasigh. as iftheydon‘t come nearto evokingthe thrilland scale oltheir audio-visual concerts. Thethree shadowy figures who rush around creating the explosions of sound and lightwhich constitute an evening with Bow Gamelan are Anne Bean. P.D. Burwell and Richard Wilson. variously performance artist. musician and sculptor. Theirperlormances are based aroundthe leftovers olurban society. old hoovers. scrap metal and oil drums. which are built into a kind of musical sculpture. The volume is increased by the wholesale use of theatrical fireworks. used to great effect in the 1986 concertin the Cathedral Church of St Maryin Edinburgh. when they competed with a
i tremendous natural storm outside—and won. Fortheir performance at the Glasgow Garden Festival on 25 September. the Gamelan have constructed ‘sound sculptures‘ powered by steam. waterand electricity and the visual display
sounds gorgeous. based as
it is around pyrotechnics with the names Red Peony with Blue Heart and Heroic Chrysanthemum.
The name of the group
itself is a reference tothe
percusive orchestras of Indonesia. and to the area of East London where they live. The group is reallya happy accident. formed
; ‘during a boat trip up Bow Creek‘foraone-otf
performance in 1983. The success of that initial performance has led on to displays in all mannerol indoor and outdoorvenues. from Wakefield Cathedral to the Brooklyn Bridge. Following inthe wake of Beatthe Clyde. the Gamelan's Garden Festival date will take place on a barge moored on the river beside the Festival site. (Julie Morrice)
‘I tend to sound a bit belligerentsometimes.’ said Billy Connollyto The List. last time he cameto Scotland. ‘But I reallyfeel very strongly aboutmy humourand my Scottishness. I come under such lire lorthat. The press neverseem to seethe positive side f‘ ‘
lillingtheatres with regular. ordinary people.‘ Connolly'sfeelings about the press have never been much ola secret. His interview with The List was an exclusive. and during the course of it he didn‘texactly extend the olive branch to the Scottish press (who have not handled him with kid gloves). describing them as ‘small time people‘ —the most polite olhis feelings. This time he was filming inforeign parts when The Listtriedto contacthim. butwhen he returns we can expect more olhis uncompromising style. ‘Comedy shouldn'tbe rehearsed.‘ he saidthen. explaining why he prelers appearing on stage to appearing on television. ‘The people intelevision are so dull—they insiston rehearsing because they are all frightened. You do something eighttimes and bythe time you finish it. you hate it . . . Comedy isthe biggest failure on television. Sport like snookerand darts has gained from television and sotoo. with peoplelike Magnus Pike and David Bellamy has science and conservation. Rock and roll has gained because of video but comedy has gone backwards: when you watch comedy on television it's like watching the Dennis Norden show.‘ Billy Connollyis atthe Theatre Royal. Glasgow from 24-26 Sept. See Theatre Listings}