I YERMA tievrly lormed Glasgow company, Theatre In The Sand. present Lorca's masterpiece ot passion and tragedy in Edinburgh's Spanish season. Stylised. dramatic, stimulating.
Lyceum Studio (Fringe venue 7) 229 9697. Free preview 12 Aug 7.00pm. 14-2 August (not Suns) 7.00pm. 25 (£3.50).
I THE BAttl 0F CUCHULAIN A new Islington-based company, Blood 8. Mire Productions. comes to the Fringe to perform Yeats' dance plays on the 50th anniversary ot his death. Music by Mitre Taylor from lncantations.
Marco's Leisure Centre (Fringe venue 98) 229 7898. 14-26 August 6.15pm. 24 (£3.50).
Nicola Robertson picks this week‘s top three classic plays. Below — previews of classics old and new.
I LONG onv's JOURNEY mro NIGHT Eugene O'tieill's bleak comment on the American dream. An American student company tackle this difficult modem tragedy.
Festival Theatre USO-USA, 95 Causewayslde (Fringe venue 102) 13, 19, 20. 26. 21 August. 2 September 4pm. £3 a £2.
The Power of Spanish
Nicola Robertson on several Lorcas, staged to mark the Festival’s Spanish theme.
‘Lorca's work is very political,’ comments David' Johnstone, translator of Yerma for Glasgow‘s Theatre in the Sand, ‘because it centres on the very fraught relationship between the freedoms . of the individual and a society which could only
function through oppression‘. The company, directed by Tom Watson, intend to tackle the piece ‘in a distinctly Scottish manner‘.
‘Its always seemed to me that one of the last vestiges of provincialism in Scotland is doing
European plays in English accents,‘ says , Johnstone. ‘The play is being set in Spain but its l being done by Scottish actors using Scottish ‘ accents‘. Exploring similarities between rural Spain and Scotland, the company want to emphasise the relevence of the play for a modern audience. ‘The pull of the land was always very strong for Lorca,‘ Johnstone continues. ‘In a sense his major characters are forces of nature rather than just human-beings. They are forces of nature who are thwarted, obstructed, baulked by
social convention. Yerma deals with a controversial issue which is still alive in Britain today — the issue of women‘s rights, something Lorca identified with as a repressed gay.‘
Repressed sexuality is the key to Richard Baron‘s interpretation of Lorca’s last and bleakest tragedy, The House of Bernardo Alba. Directing St Andrew‘s Mermaids in this complex play, Baron states ‘Lorca has taken out everything that is poetic and left unadulterated raw emotion in its place. I feel the play is very claustrophobic, full of small spaces and the feeling of heat; oppressive heat, which together with the overwhelming metaphor of nature repeating itself, is an explosive starting point for any dramatic situation.‘
The motif of repression is examined and inverted in Fusion‘s free exploration of Blood Wedding at the Theatre Workshop. An exciting young Islington based group bring Lorca’s passionate play to invigorate audiences in a collaborative piece with David Glass, Beyham Fawkes directed by Celia Greenwood, the
founder of Weekend Arts, a training ground, run on the weekend, for ‘young actors who can’t get into college because they don‘t have the opportunity to improve their techniques . . . Blood Wedding is something totally new and modern; it has a lot of dance in it, combined with singing, mime and drama‘.
The stress on Lorca‘s theatricality and adaptability is something which the National Student Theatre Company are eager to examine. ‘Lorca was actually a very experimental playwright; he was never happy with one form of working‘ comments Maria Delgardo, one of the directors of the British premiere of When Five Years Pass. ‘It was influenced by expressionism and surrealism,’ she continues. ‘Lorca was very much part of the Spanish surrealist movement and close friends with Dali and Bunuel. We‘re approaching the piece in a way that captures the ﬂuidity — the sense of dream associated with expressionist theatre‘. Using a score commissioned from the Royal Academy of Music, dance from the Ballet Rambert, and concocted in an open theatre space, the new play will expose ‘Lorca‘s real feel for the plastic
theatre of the senses’. I Yerma See Hitlist.
I Blood Wedding (Fringe) Theatre Workshop (Venue 20) 226 5425. 14—19 Aug, 3pm, £2.50
I The House of Bemarda Alba (Fringe) St Andrew’s University Mermaids, Edinburgh College of Art (Venue 73), 229 9311, Aug 15—26,
6.25pm, £3 (£2).
I When Five Years Pass (Fringe) National Student Theatre Company, Assembley Rooms (Venue 3), 226 2428, Aug l3—Sept 2, 6.15pm, £4
life. It is based on an ancient Irish myth about
Cathleen O'Shea. It 0' . represents a cross-over
I point in Yeats‘ career, In the year of the 50th I where his preoccupations anniversary of William with traditional Irish myth Butler Yeats‘ death it meet with character- seems apt that the centred theatre. Ours is a Edinburgh Fringe pays l stylised piece; we‘ve taken
ideas from Yeats‘ later dabbling with Noh theatre
tribute to his innovative dramatic poetry and
theatrical and dragged them back to
experimentation. this earlier stage in his Absolute Banana work.‘
Theatre from Blood and Mire
Birmingham are Productions, by contrast,
immersing themselves in the interesting early play Countess Cathleen. which Yeats wrote for the Irish revolutionary, Maud
are taking two plays from the Cuchulain cycle - On Baile‘s Strand and At the Hawk‘s Well, which are
mature dramas written as
Gonne. Colin Mitchell, Yeats moved from a directing the play. points concept of popular theatre out ‘Cathlecn was written towards a more elitist
in 1892, Yeat‘s first play stylised form inﬂuenced which he frequently by ritual drama from revised throughout his Japan. Rupert Edwards.
director ofthe piece, 6869. 21—26 Aug, 1.15pm, emphasises the dance 52-50 (£2)
forms around which the I The Bain ol Cuchulain later plays revolve. ‘We‘re
(See liitlist). working with an a; experienced dancer from the Rambert Dance company. Sue Hawksley, and we‘ve moved away from the severity of Yeats‘ liturgical music to a more Irish style commissioned from Mike Taylor of Incantations.‘ The piece is innovative and exciting. combining Yeats‘ dramatic poetry with the energies released by dance and rhythm. A refreshingly imaginative
approach to these
experimental works. (Nicola Robertson)
I Countess Cathleen CHALK CIRCLE (Fringe) The Absolute This is one of Breeht‘s Banana Theatre most performed play‘s
and also one of his most accessible as it's simple
Company, Roxburgh Theatre (Venue 27). 556
parable-like story, taken from the 13th century Chinese authour Li I-Isung-Dao, has relevance for any age. THe National Youth Music Theatre, under Mark Pattenden‘s direction (last year‘s Little Rats) claim to have cracked Brecht‘s ensemble stylc, taking the Chinese and Eastern European inﬂuence seriously in Peking Opera pastel design and using Brecht expert Stephen Warbeck‘s music to WH Auden‘s lyrics, scored for tenor banjo and sheng (Chinese harp)! The musicians are integrated into the action and the company make full use of half-masks, mime and dance , including some authentic Russian folk-dancing.
Perhaps a wise choice for a youth company, The Prologue has been cut, negating the author‘s political device of play-within-the-play but claiming this allows scope to develop the chosen fairy-tale style and humourous elements.
A multi-racial cast of thirty, the N YMT is tackling its ﬁrst Brecht piece. Their ruthlessly professional approach , vast budget. tight rehearsal scheduling and glossy programmes might be a turn-off, but the freshness and vitality a young company bring to this piece. plus Tracey Mitchell‘s ageless face.
cannot fail to be appealing. (Caroline Richards) I The Caucasian Chaltr Circle (Fringe) George
The List I I - I7 August I989 31