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Play time

Raymond Cousse is a French writer. performerand workaholic, who is nothing if not his own man. He has performed his own monlogues throughout Europe. ever insistent on keepingthings strictly small-scale. ‘Cousse wants to keep himselfto himself.‘ says translatorBrian Singleton. based in the Department of Theatre Studies at Glasgow University. ‘He hatesthe Establishment—that‘s why he likes small theatre companies. He likes The Traverse. He doesn‘t want to be part of mainstream theatre. He controls his own life and his own success and so limits his success.‘ Perhaps notsurprisingly. Cousse has warmedto Ad Hoc Theatre Company whose English-language production of These Childish Things (Enfantillages) is to be performed by bi-lingual actor. Frederic Rostand. Indeed, Cousse has been sitting in on the rehearsals over in his native Paris and. given that much of his work is autobiographical, his involvementwill undoubtedly be a greathelptothe company. Firstperformed in 1984. the play isa touching and comic child‘s eye view of an adultworld. ‘Everything that happens on stage happened to Cousse.‘ explains Singleton. ‘all the fears of childhood and so on. But that‘s implicit. Because I know him. I know it‘s about him. butyou can‘t actually tell. I first came into contactwith him

through a colleague. Claude Schumacher. who edited a book of New French Plays (see Plays In Print). He told me to go and see Enfatillages in Paris which I thought was absolutely wonderful. We then got together and l translated it.‘

Having set the play ‘somewhere in Britain' and out most of the references to France. Singleton has nonetheless

maintained the play's comic sensibility ‘— neitherthe upfront slapstick beloved

ofthe French. northe dry observation ofaJacques Tati. ‘This isthe opposite.‘ says Singleton. ‘lt‘s very warm. The humourcomesfromthe naivety—everyone hasthoughtthese things. but never actually articulated them and we just recognise them. Most

l’ of the people who saw it in Paris were

Americans and apparently they were

roaring with laughter.‘ (Mark Fisher) I These Childish Things is atThe

Traverse Theatre. Edinburgh from Tue 17—Sun 22 October.

Puppets on a shoestring

where puppet theatre is held in very f high esteem. tn the Soviet Union alone

‘A lot of the time what people think of as

puppetry isn‘tnecessarily puppet theatre,‘ claims Malcolm Knight of Glasgow“ expanding Scottish Mask and Puppet Centre. nowten years old. moving premises and taking on a new puplic profile. ‘l‘m thinking of the worst excesses television-there‘s been some verygoodthings as well—butthe worst excesses are something similar to dolly waggling with very crude manipulation. Now people eitherthink of The Muppets or Spitting Image and neither of those has actually done very much torthe live puppettradition.‘

The Centre is currently organising puppetperformancesfrom Leningrad, a conference involving Russian practitioners. and next. two innovative Dutch companies. Triangel and Feike Boschma atthe Tramway Theatre. ‘They are both well-established on the international puppetcircuit.‘ says Knight. ‘as being companies that work with object theatre and surrealist ideas. They are forolderchildren and adults mainly. Triangel‘sworkis remarkable because it is based on this whole idea of transformation and the grotesque that exists in real life. Their work is very powerful indeed. Boschma uses cloths. drapes and fabrics to create something out of nothing which is fascinating in itself. In one way it is almostlike magic.‘

The situation in this country is quite the reverse to the rest of Europe. the Eastern Block and even America.

there are upwards 01200 puppet theatres. ‘The Moscow State Puppet Theatre,‘ says Knight, ‘employs 496 people. it has a huge museum and has about2.500 people goingthrough its doors every day. The more you look at other countries. the more you see that we are at least 25 years out of date. '

Overthe nextcouple ofyearsthe Scottish Mask and Puppet Centre plans to startto redress the balance. Knight is hoping to set up a small 100-seat theatre eventually expandingto 200 seats, a museum. a training institute. an in-house company. design

workshops, as well as a cafe. workshop and resource centre forthe community.

Of course, none of this could even be contemplated were it not for the obvious dedication and enthusiasm for puppet theatre shared by the Centre's

staff. ‘lt‘s probably one ofthe most challenging artformsthatthereis.‘

says Knight. ‘lt‘s a synthesis of all the otherarts in microcosm. ltfuses music, dance. mime. caricature. sculpture . . . almost every conceivable artform. And there is no idea. however simple orcomplex. thatyou can't explore using an animated figure or object.‘ (Mark Fisher)

Triangel are at The Tramway from Mon

23—Wed 25 Oct and Feike Boschma is

at the same venue from Thurs 26—331 28 Oct.

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