In this issue’s Theatre Preview Ross Parsons quizzes Gerry Sadowitz aboutTV, Swearing and Ben EltOtt, While Sara Villiers wakens to up to Whuppitie Stourie, a new Scots version of Rumpelstiltskin. Plus: rape and pillage in Medieval Players’ Courage, Ibsen at the Lyceum and the latest from Fablevnsron.
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A Measure of Scots
Launching their new production, bearing the pithy title Whappitie Stourie, on a comprehensive Scottish tour, Theatre Alba conﬁdently state that they have crossed the divide between children’s and adult theatre — a chasm notoriously treacherous to negotiate — to create a show with a broad, popular appeal.
‘On a superficial level it is the Scottish version of the European tale RumpeLstiltskin but on another level it has political and social implications for contemporary Scotland,’ insistis Charlie Nowosielski, Director of Musselburgh’s Brunton Theatre who, with associate Richard Cherns set up Theatre Alba ten years ago.
Since then Theatre Alba have dedicated themselves to promoting the work of playwrights born or living in Scotland and have established a reputation for resuscitating the dying form of Scots language in the theatre.
‘Speaking in our own language, we understand how to make full dramatic use of the full vowel and the rich ‘r’; Scots creates a poetic and resonant dialogue,‘ Nowosielski passionately explains.
Whuppitie Stourie brings together the same
artistic team — Nowosielski, Cherns and writer David Purves— who created Alba’s Fringe First production The Puddok An The Princess, which was also inspired by myth and folklore.
Their adherence to authentic folklore distinguished Alba from the run-of—the mill pantomine tradition — which is generally based on soppy fairy tales; elves and fairies dancing around mushrooms and genial genies granting loony wishes. ‘The folklore tradition is much more brutal,’ says Nowosielski. ‘It‘s about people being tortured, murdered, having their eyes gouged out . . .’
If that all sounds too fearsome for family entertainment then fear not. Whuppitie Stourie is a tale of magic, fantasy and high comedy,’ he adds reassuringly.
Set in Scotland around 1730 it tells the story of the Guidwife (Lucinda Baillie) who loses her husband when he flees from the military press gang. With an unmarried daughter to support, her economic survival depends on her sow, Bessie (Jan Knightly) bearing a litter. But Bessie falls ill and the Guidwife has to use her wits to get by. She becomes pitted against the Madam (Eilidh Fraser), an evil queen modelled on, surprise, surprise girls and boys, our own dear Mrs T (as any boo-hiss nasty villainess who scuttles across a Scottish stage seems to be these days).
‘The play raises serious issues in Scotland,‘ Nowoseilski concludes earnestly. ‘David Purves creates an intriguing parallel to the way that Scotland is treated by Downing Street.’ (Sara Villiers)
Whuppitie Stourie can be seen all over Central Scotland from Wed 4—Sat 28 Oct. See Touring.
considerable emotional impact.‘ Although not emphasising the historical aspect, Pope will be doing
MACBETH OF MODERN TIMES
The Citizens are currently a reassessment of the rehearsing their third Scottish king; ‘Hc‘ll look production of Macbeth in at a different side of
ten years. Due to start a three week run on 6 Oct it
Macbeth‘s character, not the usual weak-willed
looks particularly wimp being manipulated adventurous even by the by a strong wicked wife.‘ high standards of modern In truth Macbeth was of Shakespeare. course an inspiring and Directed by Jon Pope just King of Scotland and (noted for preVIOUS Citl Shakey was grovelling to
work; the spectacular
James I, Banquo‘s direct visuals in Frankenstein
descendent, with this
and his sympathetic version of history. It’s rendering of the king in always interesting to see Richard III) the play is. versions which tackle, according to the even inadvertantly, this ;
company‘s Roberta Doyle ‘likely to include some
central irritation of the Scottish Play. (Stewart
imaginative lighting Hennessey) Macbeth can
effects, though it will not be seen a: the citizens I be overdressed since it is Theatre, Glasgowform Fri not set in a particular 6—50: 28 Oct at 7.30pm.
period of history. The original live music (courtesy of electronic composer Adrian
J ohnstone) should lend it
‘The various prejudices I
and stereotyping which have sprung up around AIDS are quite horrifying. We wanted to confront these problems and dramatise the specific issue of women and AIDS,‘ explains Jo Broadwood of Women and Theatre‘s latest production, Putting It About.
Funded by Lothian‘s ‘Take Care of The One You Love‘ campaign, the Birmingham company bring their acclaimed play to Edinburgh‘s Theatre Workshop from Mon 3-Sat 7 Oct. The week‘s run commences with private shows for health and social workers, followed by discussions, and will conclude with three performances from Thurs 5 Oct.
‘Lothian Health Board have a very progressive attitude to AIDS education,‘ remarks Broadwood. ‘Birmingham Health
Board share that concern;
the play was originally devised in close cooperation with their HIV Liaisons Officer. We
depict a scenario,
health, safety and protection, by the government.‘
The play focuses on the precarious relationship between three women with HIV; Lizzie (Broadwood), Dion (Norma Morris) and Ann (Paulie Wright) and Margaret (Lorna Laidlaw), their carer, who originally has an ambivalent attitude about the disease and blames the women for their predicament.
The only way to dispel the regressive myth and ignorance clouding AIDS is through thorough public debate', says Broadwood,‘ ‘hopefully
we succeed in that intent— so far we have had a very positive rcaction.‘
Women in Theatre can be seen at the Theatre Workshop. Edinburgh from Thurs 5—Sat 7 Octat 8pm and at the C rawfurd Theatre, Glasgow on Mon 2 Oct at 7.30pm.
projected in 1992, where people who have the virus are put into ‘hotels‘. apparently for their own
The List 29 September — 12 October 1989 45