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hammering in Harmme Row. Wildcat's new show written by Mullan with Peter Arnott. author of several highly regarded plays including White Rose and Losing Alec. The partnership goes back several years and has its roots in community theatre work.
Accordingly. Harmony Rmv will tour only community venues during Mayfest. in spite of Wildcat‘s proven ability to fill large theatres. Even this is seen by Mullan as compromise: ‘You're only there for one evening. and we should never kid ourselves on that we‘re completely restructuring people's ideas on how they live: that‘s something that takes a lot of time and patience and is for me far. far more vital.‘
Mullan and Arnott‘s involvement in community theatre has not always been a happy one. however. ‘We're always being asked to go into communities as kind of fire-fighters.‘ explains Mullan. ‘We enjoy it and we're good at it. but only if it's giving people the means ofcxpressing themselves.‘
Harmony Row is about resistance to the Poll Tax. a subject which throws up
countless other issues. One of our main reasons for writing together.‘ says Arnott. ‘was fear. Neither of us would have dared take on writing a PollTax show that was going to play to 40,000 people alone. It's such a big thing.‘
Both writers are highly articulate about the demands of socialism on theatre. and it emerges that Harmony Row is more intellectually demanding than a
show; though they are 3 keentostress‘the
complex and confusing'.
‘I’olitical theatre needs to grow up.‘ says Mullan.
‘and we need to re-learn
socialism. ‘The only way we‘re
going to get a Scottish
Theatre worthy of the name.‘ adds Arnott. ‘is if it grows out ofpeople going out onto the stage and being honest. It can only come if theatre isan
organic part of the way we
live. That's not something you can do with a palliative like (‘ulturc (‘ity — that's a cultural revolution.‘
The play centres on the struggle of a particular neighbourhood to sustain a non-payment campaign
which jeopardises their chances ofwinninga ‘Ncighbourhood of the Year‘ award. The campaign‘s leader Mrs Patterson (described by Arnott as ‘a complex figure of hope‘) happens to be the mother ofa Labour councillor. so that conﬂict exists both within the family and in the broader community. and the role of the ‘official‘ left-wing leadership can be clearly examined. Leadership itself is a primary theme. Mrs Patterson becomes. as Mullan puts it. ‘an out~and-out Stalinist'. who eventually learns from her community. The crux of the play is the way rebellion can be undermined by factionalism — failure to
unite against a common
enemy. At the end ofAct ()ne. Ilarmony Row‘s tenants sign a pledge of allegiance against the tax. In Act Two it falls apart. but. says Mullan. ‘it's reassembled through commitment. truth. honesty. love. as opposed to through a rallying call -— as far as I‘m concerned that‘s the real essence of what could win this fight.‘ (Andrew Burnct)
Harmony Row, 8—20 May.
Detailed listings next issue.
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24 The List 2] April —4 May 1989