What creature comforts do you export for a troupe of travelling actors, currently stranded in Alexandria and soon to make their way to the sub-continent? ‘Chocolate actually. They‘re all starved of Kit-Kats and Mars bars; diarrhoea cure from the doctor and some anti-histamine tablets. . . cello strings and letters from loved ones.‘ These are the prized possesions which will be baffling Customs when Ian Brown journeys to Delhi to rejoin the company he left in Cairo.
TAG have been touring the Middle East and India with their visually challenging production ofGreat Expectations. ‘The company are making a good impression. There are a lot of receptions to go to. organised by the British Council. I told them that they are being ambassadors. It‘s quite a rare event for a British company to tour abroad and it‘s a unique way of talking to foreign cultures.‘
Keeping track of an excited bunch of actors isn‘t always easy. ‘We lost two people at the Pyramids.‘ says Ian nonchalantly. ’We did actually find them again. but we‘d been waiting for ages. Fourteen people go off in fourteen different directions so you have to be really careful about arranging when and where to meet. We stand in groups and bleat.
When we first arrived in Baghdad we found our freight had been held up. so we had to round up some props and pool all the clothes we had with us. Miss liaversham ended up wearing Hilary Maclean‘s dressing-gown.‘
The response to the tour has been varied but always appreciative. ’In Iraq they didn‘t laugh, in Egypt they did. However we played to a student audience in Iraq who were very ‘lively‘. They talked all the way through. mostly about the play. and responded audibly to physical violence on the stage. The cast found it quite exciting to get such a voluble response.‘
lan is hoping that the tour will secure permanent links abroad. ’An experimental theatre company has just been set up in Cairo. The British Council are going to try to send them
to the Traverse to learn how our organisation runs. We‘re hoping that a play from that company will come to Edinburgh for the next Festival.‘ (Jo Roe) Great Expectations is touring the Middle East, India and Sri Lanka until late December.
No, if it’s Tuesday it mustbeAswan.
THEATRE 44 CABARET 52 DANCE 54 REVIEWS
U) (D .2. .— 52 ._l
Slab of Life
It is now more than eleven years since John Byrne’s ersatz Eddie Cochranes, Spanky Farrell and Phil McCann,
spilled onstage forthe first time at the
Traverse. The Slab Room of Stobo's carpet factory, where colours are ground forthe Design Studio, has changed little since then. The year is still 1957, the town is still Paisley, but the Slab Boys have come up in the world since then.
‘I hadn‘t read Slab Boys until about three months ago,’ says Douglas Henshall,’ who plays Spanky in a new production at the Lyceum. ‘I trained in London, and when I came back to Scotland, everybody seemed to have
either done it or read it, so one day l
was in a bookshop, picked up the thing, bought it, took it home and never put it
down till I finished it. ljust thought it
Director Ian Wooldridge has cast the play wisely from the West of Scotland: Byrne’s humour (now considerably more famous, thanks to Tutti Frutti) does demand a good grasp of the Patter. ‘I grew up in Barrhead,’ says Henshall. ‘You can smell Paisley from
l there, and my first escapades were in
Paisley ratherthan Glasgow. It’s familiarterritory.’
But the play is not simply a comedy. Below the surface -which tends to get scratched away—there’s a lot of pain. ‘The play is about survival a lot ofthe
time: how you get through things,’ says Henshall, ‘and I think the comedy is l part of that. I’m trying to make Spanky more than a walking joke machine.’ Spanky was played at the Traverse by Gerard Kelly, also more famous these I days. But although Henshall worked ' with him on No Mean City (his professional debut), The Sash and
5 Road, he has resisted all influences, to
spoken to Kelly a couple of times about it,’ he says, ‘but not while I’ve been rehearsing the play. But he’s always said, “ifyou want me to stop, tell .. me.” I don'tthink any actor wants to i think too much about the people who've played a part before. (Andrew Burnet) The Slab Boys opens at The Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh on 24 Nov—9 Dec, 7.45pm.
make the interpretation his own. ‘l’ve I i !
IZIEEIII Flying High
Spot the Dancers.
A report published by the Policy Studies Institute in September stated that audiences for contemporary dance had declined over the lest few years to a worrying degree. Critics were the first to jump on the bandwagon and say that the reason forthis untimely fall in attendances was due to a basic loss of interest from the public and unimaginative programming from the companies. Lest everyone he tarred by the same brush, however, a complete reversal of this decline was taking place in the fortunes of one major company.
The Rambert Dance Company, winners of the prestigious Prudential
Arts Award for 1989, has been attracting large audiences for its touring programme, thus refuting those who thought that the decline was universal. Certainly when I saw the company in Manchester in October, playing to an enthusiastic full house, their fortunes seemed high indeed, and rightly so, as the quality of the choreography and the strength and commitment of the dancers made
Richard Alston's Pulau Dewata explores the folk culture of the Balinese people in vivid choreographic language that contrasts gentle, haunting, languorous movement with powerful, energetic passages. The music of Claude Vivier admirably creates the right mood for Alston's magical choreography. In the same programme Opal Loop, the first work of Trisha Brown to be added to the repertoire, provides an opportunity for - the Rambert dancers to take on an excitineg different dance style. Brown‘s choreography is sharp, short, repetitious and very exciting. She uses small, fragmented movements which are developed by the four individual dancers in a myriad of ways, until suddenly you realise that for a brief moment they all do the same steps before reverting to the fast and furious choreographic game of tag which has gone before.
Whichever programme you see — and I would recommend that you see both- ; you will be in fora treat. This is a company on top form. (John Aitken)
Ballet Rambert at Theatre Royal, Glasgow Tue 28 Nov—Sat 2 Dec.
I Comic Strips? Bruce Morton, the ex-Funny Farmer. is going for an all-out media blitz over the next couple ofmonths, making appearances on Halfway To Paradise. Magnificent Obsessions and a forthcoming edition of Signals which will trace the story of alternative comedy, its history and its future (tune in to find out which camp they put Morton in). The Glasgow
‘ comic has also managed to
get a penetrating. in-depth interview with
' that radical tabloid. The
Sun, not by posing topless
(or so we understand). but ' by sending out a
substantially different press-release to Mr Murdoch‘s crew than the one he sent to The List. While we got lots of background detail about
the man's undoubted
genius. the lads in Kinning Park got something along the lines of East End Boy In Channel 4 Snob Shocker! You‘ve got to laugh.
I Sponsorship Search The Edinburgh University Theatre Company‘s production ofNickel Opera which received much praise in this year‘s Festival Fringe. is off on a tourofthe USA inlan, taking in Pennsylvania. Boston and New York. So far they have raised £2325 from the Sheplcy Shepley Fund. Edinburgh University and their American sponsors. but they are still looking for independent companies to helpthem double that sum. lfyou can help. please call Vicki Berry on 0315578108.
I Scottish StudentDrama Festival Next year's SSDF takes place at the end of March and some 19
groups will be taking part.
Submissions for the programme ofShorts are now being accepted and anyone (not just students) is invited to contribute typed scripts between ten and forty-five minutes long. There is also a prize competition to design the SSDF poster (maximum size A3). Deadline for both competitions is 8 Jan 1990 and entries should be sent to SSDF ()ffice.62 Oakfield Avenue. Glasgow C112 8L8 (041 339 8855 ext-1804).
The List 24 November— 7 December 1989 43