seven year olds.
The cast of Free Street Theater's I’roji’i‘t.’ are all residents of (‘abrini-(ireen. and their involvement with the company is some kindoi alternative to the spiral of drugs and crime which pulls in so many oftheir peers. ‘The gangs are
intimidated.‘ says Irene-Aimee l)epke. Marketing Director of Free Street. ‘We're doing something. And they know it. There's a sort of criminal respect.‘
What they are doing is theatre based on the experience of the people involved. It is community theatre of a kind unusual in America: ‘Nobody does what we do‘. says l)epke. Funded by the government. by the city and by private sponsorship. Free Street Theater have moved into a fractions but rewarding arena. 'People want to direct plays in black boxes. No-one wants togo out and work in poor. black. violent areas. Particularly not a white man.‘
The white man who did just that was Patrick Henry. whose death last week has left the company without its muse. 'There is nobody like him. Patrick was a poet .' says l)epke. Henry set tip Free Street Theater in 196‘). when he realised that 97"} ofthe American population did not go to the theatre. The company began life on a 'showmobile'. a convertible lorry stage which could take theatre where it had never been seen before. They moved into(‘abrini-(ireen in
1983: ‘We had always been an outreach theatre. and Patrick said. these are the people we should be working with. the
unse rved. We cannot think that our audiences are going to continue to be white and elitist.‘
An initial programme of workshops led to the creation of I’rojvctk the tip-tempo. multi-media musical with its theme of surviving and overcoming the odds. which will tour communityvenues during Mayfest before
performing in Glasgow city centre. l)epke is in no doubt that the play will translate for Scottish audiences: ‘First and foremost it's entertainment. but the whole. basic message is one of truth and the commonality of mankind.'. (Julie Morrice)
I ’rojact.’ tours community t'i’niii's from 8—1 4 May and then appears at the (‘rawfiiril 'l'hi’atri' 16—20 May. See I .13!”th Itt’.t‘! issue/or more details.
GAROZIENICE THEATRE ASSOCIATION
L'nlike several other Polish companies seen in Scotland recently. (iardzienice have both political and financial support from their government. In fact. with an international reputation second only to Kantor's('ricot Theatre. they have been one ofthe country's major cultural ‘exports' over the last ten years. touring to the [ISA and most liuropean countries — except. of
course. Britain. That deficiency is set to be remedied this Mayfest and the company's appearance in the converted S.\'() rehearsal space at The Henry Wood Hall is one ofthe highlights in a theatre programme ofdeeidedly mixed quality.
In contrast. (iardzienice itself. the IS-strong company's home. is a tiny agricultural village near the town of Lublin in eastern Poland. With their lives and theatrical ideals rooted firmly in the traditions of rural culture. the group represents perhaps the modern equivalent of a medieval troupe of travelling players. (‘entral to their work are journeys to isolated rural communities in Poland and Lapland. often stay ing for weeks at a time. collecting stories. dance and. above all. songs which form the basis of their work.
From this material they build performances of extended emotional and spiritual intensity which eschew. like the bulk of alternative Polish theatre. the primacy of the spoken word for a theatre of movement. music and iconic images.
Iiveryone to whom I have spoken who has seen the current show. entitled Avvakum. struggles for words to convey the experience. The literary source is the monumental
Avaakum: Gardzienice Theatre (3—4 May)
autobiography ofa 17th century Russian priest burned at the stake for his refusal to accept religious reforms. but its role in the final performance is more inspirational than anything else. Judie ('hristie. administrator for tour organisers the ('entre For Performance Research in Cardiff. describes it as a ‘musico-ethno-oratorio exploringthe darker depths of the Eurasian soul'. which seems about as close as one is likely to get to a pithy summation. With a none too subtle sense of irony. a Mayfest programme blurb claims the festival as the upholder of‘popular theatre' and that the ‘cult of avant-garde and experimentalism has passed'. (iardzienice are likely to prove. fortunately enough. that things are not quite that simple. (Simon Bayly) .‘l i'aakiim. 3 —4 May. .S'i'i' Listings.
When Philip Prowse first worked at the ( ‘itizens' Theatre its neo-classical facade looked over a real street: ‘There were shops, a greasy spoon and our studio theatre. which had a bar licensed till eleven when everywhere shirt at ten.’ L'nused to the nicctiesof (ilasgow social life. Prowse spent his time ‘trying not to be too obtrusive.‘
The point is that. working in the theatre. one is affected by one‘s surroundings. The surprising new facade of the ('itizens‘. its gleaming white. glass-roofed foyer. and richly-painted auditorium will. says Prowse. have an effect on what happens therein. It is. however. unquantifiable. Prowse waves a hand in the air. supremely vague.
The ('itizens‘ opens its new plate-glass doors this Mayfest with A Tale of Two (‘itiesu adapted.
directed and designed by Prowse. It was. it seems. a personal choice that is clearly right for the slot. ‘lt‘s 1789. the French Revolution: we might have chosen something else. Danton '3 Death perhaps. but this is the best one for Mayfest. There's a popular feel (is popular a derogatory term'.’ ) — anyway there is a popular feel to Mayfest. In Dickens all the responses are to do with the heart. although that's not to say that there's no mind in it. Everything happens the way you
would want it to work otit.
even the sad bits.‘ l laving read the novel
several times for pleasure.
Prowse found that one more reading was enough before embarking on the adaptation. which was written mainly on trains and about which he is blase. ‘It's a dialogue novel. and those bits that are reported can easily be turned into dialogtic. Dickens says everything
three times. You just have
to choose which is the best way to say it.'
Having taken only ‘one major liberty with the timescale and a minor liberty with one character'. Prowse hopes that the adaptation is true to the original. ‘If people have read the novel. even if it was years ago. they have a mental picture of it and it's very easy to tipset them. But one can onlytry
to give a truthful picture of
The delicately-stitched. intricate plotting ofany Dickens novel is. says Prowse. very difficult to reproduce on stage. Having seen neither the
RSC's influential Nicholas .Vii‘k/i'hy'. nor TAG's powerful (iri'at [zlt'pi’i‘tatio/is. he cannot make comparisons. btit. unlike Nickle/iv. his 'I‘wo (‘itii's will have no narrators and will focus on the individual characters. The contrasting atmospheresof London and Paris will be communicated by the way characters behave rather than by changes in staging. It is. insists Prowse. a novel about ‘very ordinary. middle-class people' who are forced into monstrous situations. ‘Dickcns is very good at showing how ordinary people cope with extraordinary demands.‘
The French Revolution. says Prowse ‘was just one of the most important things that happened‘. Dickens. he thinks. is entirely supportive of the processof revolution. ‘l le disapproved of how it developed. how it perpetrated the sort of horrors it was meant to overcome. btit Dickens thinks that the poor and dipossessed need all the support they could have.‘ Prowse doesn't think of it as an epic: ‘lt‘s made upof small scenes. small-scale people’. but he sees at least one advantage in his sprawling cast of twenty-five. 'A small cast is much more intense. With twenty-five. ifyou get bored you can always get everyone to storm the Bastille.‘ (Julie Morrice) A 'Iit/i’ of [no ( tiles. 5 .Wilt' onwards. .St'i' Listings.
I — i
TRUTH, LOVE AND HARMONY
‘They 'd nev er dare do it in Sowetof saysactor writer Peter Mullah ot(ilasgow ‘s appointment as ( ~ity ol (‘ultuie 'lt'suttei'ly obscene agross diversion that only feeds bourgeoispi'ide ‘
Sure enough. l‘lttttpL'dll ( 'ommission awards come in for a thorough satirical
The List 21 April - J May wsu 23