Tally Ho!

Ann Marie Di Mambro is a storyteller. For her the plot of a play is all important. In conversation she hesitates for fear ofgiving away not the subtext or the meaning. but the story. ‘I like a story,‘ she admits. ‘Unless I‘ve thought a story through to the end, I can‘t go about writing it. There's two bits to writing a play. There‘s getting a story and there‘s using a stage to tell it. Plays can fall down because the story‘s not ready.‘

Her latest tale - opening a year to the day that her term as Traverse Writer In Residence began is Tally's Blood which centres round a Scottish Italian family in the 1930s and later in the 1950s. Straddling the Second World War. it is a period of great significance to Italians. because of Britain‘s policy of interning any male who had been in this country for less than twenty years. ‘They over-reacted.‘ explains Di Mambro. ‘and picked up every male Italian including old men and fifteen year-old boys. Having said that, my father was interned for four years and he doesn‘t have any horror stories. It was a rotten time for everyone.‘

Di Mambro uses the situation as a focus for the bitterness of her central character— played by Anne Downie a woman who refuses to accept Scottish culture because of her obsession with all things Italian. ‘To live in a country and find that. for reasons totally out of your control. you‘re an enemy. must have been terrifying for Italians.‘ says Di Mambro. ‘On the six o‘clock news it was announced that Italy was in the war and that evening their shops were bashed in and looted. People were just frightened and acting out offear.‘

Exactly 50 years after Italy joined the war and The Andora Star was sunk taking with it scores of Italian internees. it‘s appropriate that Tally '3 Blood should be touring Scotland now. Di Mambro is obviously hoping to attract Scottish Italians to see the show which celebrates the extrovert volatility of the Italian temperament without being blandly uncritical. But her hallmark is an ability to balance the touching with the comic in plays like Joe and Sheila she has shown herselfto be a tremendously affecting and very funny writer and

Tally '3 Blood should have a broad appeal. ’At the end of the day,‘ she concedes. ‘it‘s a love story. And the cultural thing is the obstacle to the love story.‘ (Mark Fisher).

Tally '3 Blood is at the Traverse Theatre. Edinburgh, [—1] Feb and then on tour.


(I) (5 E .— ‘2 _l

Hard mimes

- Fantasy is all in the mind, or in the case

ol Harry Jones' new play, all in the mime. His newly devised show Hard Lines, which opens at the Tron on 30 Jan, relies heavily on mime to create a lantasylrom his semi-autobiographical tale. The cast at two (Harry Jones and Norma Muir) use a minimal set, ‘a three-piece suite and a couple at plants’, to elucidate a series at bizarre events from the mundane lacts ol Harry’s Iile. The plan is to keep the verbals down to a minimum and the audience’s imaginations on overdrive.

'Basically we wanted to do a sort of cartoon-style tale which got very complicated and I came up with the story of a background which seemed to be strong enough to hang the piece on,’ Harry explained. To avoid any misconceptions about the character‘s origins, the play begins with him in the womb. ‘lt’s a wee bit tricky that one, at the minute we’re using two arm-chairs lor it.’ From there, lollowing a hard landing on the lactory lloor, we are taken through twenty-five years of his tile in ninety minutes.

Since pertorming in mime shows during the Sixties, Jones has been known mainly for his work in TV and films. However, the appeal of devising and appearing in his own show has lured him back to the stage. He and Muir have hardly given themselves the

Is it a bird. is it a plane? No. it's Super Mime!

easiest of shows to perform. In one scene the young Harry out on his paper-round is enticed into a woman's home. ‘He's taking round his Christmas box and he gets invited in by this woman who makes advances towards him. She then otters him a snake or an apple, he refuses the apple, and so zap his genitals lall oil and she does a iuggling act with them.’ Though Harry admitted he did once have a paper round, he stressed that that part at the tale is allegorical rather than factual. Such a complex piece of miming, or rather maiming, should make itworth catching. (Boss Parsons)

Hard Lines, Animated Parts Theatre Company, 30 Jan—4 Feb, 7.30pm. £5 (£2.50). Tron Theatre, Glasgow.

Essays of Cruelty

ll 24 volumes at theatrical philosophy in French aren’t your idea at bedtime reading, then Glasgow University’s Claude Schumacher has made things easierloryou. He's put togetherArtaud 0n Theatre, the latest in Methuen‘s series at collections at key writings by major directors. Following books on Brecht, Meyerhold and Craig, the new volume has been translated by Schumacher lrom the complete writings ol Antoin Artaud and edited down to a more manageable 200 pages.

Unlike most other inlluential directors, Antoin Artaud (1906-1948) is remembered less for what he achieved on the stage than tor what he wrote. True enough, in his early professional years he worked as an

actor and director, but hampered by mental illness and lack of commercial success, his vision of how theatre should be was expressed most commonly in letters, poems and articles, rather than in concrete form. Rediscovered alter his death, his thoughts have lived on to inlluence the likes of Peter Brook and Peter Weiss.

Arranged in chronological order, the book takes selected writings from Artaud’s oeuvre, tracing the development at what he eventually called the Theatre of Cruelty (a term commandeered by Peter Brook in the 1960s). It his early tracts seem pedantic, dense and inconclusive, they always burn with an energetic passion, and by the time we reach ‘The Theatre and Its Double' (1931—1937) midway through the book, his thoughts have cohered into a workable philosophy. Drawing on ancient traditions particularly those embodied in contemporary Eastern theatre (a lascinating essay on Balinese theatre is included here), Artaud dreamed of a total theatre whose meaning went beyond words and he went a long way towards delining a new language unique to theatre.

At £25, the hardback edition is unlikely to appeal to the casual reader, but there is no denying that Schumacher has done a thorough, inlormative job at selecting and contextualising Artaud’s writing. Nearly every entry comes complete with an explanatory lootnote and there is a detailed index at names and a basic biography. (Mark Fisher)

Artaud 0n Theatre is published by Methuen on 8 Feb price £25.

I One-Act Plays Wanted East Kilbridc Rep Theatre is preparing for its next Festival of One Act Playson 14-19 May. If your theatre group would like to submit an entry to this increasingly successful festival. you should contact Linda Waddcll. Festival Secretary on East Kilbride 27426.

I Fringe Poster£2000 worth of prizes are tip for grabs in this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe poster competition open to school children throughout Scotland. Closing date is 2 March and a sheet of rules is available from the Fringe ()ffice. lSlllligh Street. Edinburgh [fill] 108.

I Theatre Arts In Education The first workshop in a 17-week course leading to a certificate in Theatre Arts takes place on Wed 7 Feb at Springwell House. Ardmillan Terrace. Iidinburgh at 1.30pm. The course is free. open to everyone and students will have the opportunity to learn about one or more theatre skills. Detailson 0313461405.

IActors Wanted Last year‘s Theatre Workshop I’laywriting (iroup has gone on to develop several drama projects. ()ne of them. a tour ofprimary schools. is currently in need of actors. Anyone interested should contact ('lairc l’crnic on 0506883 464.



I Pirandello: Three Plays (Methuen. £4.99) Henry II" is alsoavailable separately. but for about the same price. you can buy this volume which includes The Rules oft/1e (:‘ame and his most well-known play. Silt

( ‘liuruelers In Search Ufa/i .-lu!/tur. The translation of Henry II ’is byJulian Mitchell. so it willdiffer from Robert David MacDonald's version just opening at the Citizens. but this is nonetheless a worthwhile collection featuring a sizeable and informed introduction by John I.instrum. Three major plays by one of Iiurope's most significant


The List ZoJanuary 8 February 1990 41