v NW PLAY
Although there is only one official cultural capital this year, a challenge is already being made for that title from an unlikely source. The Cumbernauld Theatre has recently been more associated with ‘classics’ such as Bouncers, but artistic director Robert Robson is hoping to take the theatres audience into more uncharted waters with a new season of four plays.
The first of these has been written by Fringe First winner, Stephen Greenhorn. As with all of the plays in the season, The Tokyo Trip is set in one of the new towns in the Central Belt. ’The play centres on a 21 year-old woman working in a Japanese factory,’ says Greenhorn. ‘I thought that we couldn‘t go on welcoming companies like this with Open arms without thinking about their faults; there are so many underlying similarities between the way that some of these factories are run and the mills of the last century. Friends of mine have started working for them at sixteen and are expected to give undivided loyalty to the company; but they get no loyalty in return.‘
If all of this sounds sombre for a night out, Greenhorn assures me that there is a good deal of humour in the play, but it comes more from the characters themselves than any Bouncers style one-liners.
The Tokyo Trip, much to the joy of Cumbernauld’s publicity team, has already come a highly respectable third in LWT’s ‘Plays on Stage‘ competition. This earned the author £14,000 to help with the staging of the play. It also gave him many sleepless nights.
’1 worry about how much they’re publicising me winning this prize.’ says Greenhorn. ’1 can‘t help thinking that the audience is going to come to the theatre and then say “That wasn‘t worth 14 grand.” The whole awards ceremony was a bit of a sham. There were all these really ideologically sound writers - the first prize was won by The Black Theatre Cooperative - but here were LWT in The Savoy dishing out awards that probably cost less than the place did to hire. 1fthey‘d held the ceremony somewhere cheaper they could have given a few of the writers there enough to live on for a year.’
The Tokyo Trip will be at The C umbemauld Theatre from 22 Feb before touring Scotland.
‘Malcolm Poynter's sculpture is terriblyaesthetic and quite beautiiul to look at, until you look a bit closer and you realise there's this strange thing going on. In one oi his pieces there’s a body lying down — almost like a gothic tomb - it’s quite beautllul, then you look closer and there's all these knives and lorks sticking out ol it. The whole thing is eating ltseli.‘
Director and choreographer, Julie Wilson, has taken the sculptures oi Malcolm Poynter as a springboard to create an uncompromising piece oi physical theatre. ‘It’s this kind at ideal wanted to get across,’ she continues. ‘lt’s quite aesthetic and then it comes through with a hard-hitting point to it.’
But Wilson, who has been choreographing everything irom pop videos to contemporary dance tor the past eight years, is anxious to dispel the kind oi elitism often associated with more unconventional productions. Dislllusioned with much straightiorward theatre, she is equally opposed to the kind at pertormance that contemptuoust alienates the audience. ‘I wanted to make sure the audience had a strong emotional experience,’ she explains, ‘but not in a
negative way. Too many periormers come on the stage and they’re so arrogant towards the audience that you leel you ought not to be there. We’ve
been working on a lot at ideas about ‘givlng’ to an audience. There’s a strong subtext in each pertormer's mind and in that way we can get across honesty and sincerity in the periormance.’
With training in both theatre and choreography, Wilson is exploring the uncharted territory that dance audiences can lind too challenging and theatre audiences too unconventional. Nonetheless, Suspended Sentences
young-ish age group intrigued by its blend oi disciplines and themes oi communication. ‘We have massive arguments about whether it’s drama or dance,’ she says. ‘I work irom an emotional basis. I try to lind the movement which will heighten that emotional structure. It's not a ballet mode or a dance mode, but a unique mode that l’ve lound ior that piece.’ (Mark Fisher)
Suspended Sentences, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, 13-18 Feb.
has been capturing the imagination ol a
It all comes down to bikes. Dennis Duliligan is a cyclist and that’s line by me. He once cycled lrom Southern Ireland up through the North across to Glasgow then into a headlong wind to Edinburgh. He got as tar as the Lake District beiore hitching down to Wales and returning to Ireland. Three days later his bike was stolen.
Because he ls lrlsh, Dennis Dullllgan is drinking Guinness. And because he is an actor, he is appearing in Juno and the Paycock at the Royal Lyceum. He’s playing Joxer Daly, the wily survivor oi Sean D’Casey’s Dublin lenament tragi-comedy. ‘lt’s one oi those parts
that people like very much,’ he says, ‘and actors like playing it. He’s central and ultimately he does win out.’
Alive with borrowed phrases, cliches and mis-quotations, the language used by Joxer is an entertaining mish-mash oi the Irish idiom. Despite the play's specilic historical setting, Duilligan has no doubts about its universal appeal, but he pinpoints the language and humour as being distinctively lrlsh. ‘The audience's appreciation is less dependent on knowing the background,’ he says, ‘otherthan simply that there ls a civil war and that people are going to be divided. But a particularly lrlsh thing In his plays is the lovely, creep-up-behlnd-you, wry humour. It’s a humour that derives irom character, which in this case is very well captured.’
D'Casey's plot has the kind at watertight construction that can
accommodate this wit without lessening the impact at the tragedy. In some ways it is a conventional story ol poor lolks making good only to seller the consequences, but it is handled with such craft and blended with so much social detail, that the play maintains a freshness oi its own. ‘Each time I’ve seen it,’ says Duilllgan, ‘it has always worked tor me. It’s wondertul when they get all this money and they end up with this really gaudy stage. lie really knows how to write a story. Some oi the devices are almost like melodrama, but it’s not written
irom an academic standpoint. And he's
built the tragedy so strongly, you can't
help but leel its lull eilect.’
The two oi as grumble about taxes, couriers, big business and tile in London and I wonder ll Dullllgan would have been more at home in D’Casey’s Dublin. With that thought, I reach ior my bike-clips and cycle away into the night. (Mark Fisher)
June and the Paycock, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, 9 Few March.
I Border Warfare Wildcat‘s celebrated Tramway epic, Border Warfare, written by John McGrath, has been made into three 60-minute episodes by Freeway Films and is about to be broadcast on Channel 4. The shows are going out on Saturdays 10, 17 and 24 Feb at 10pm. Meanwhile Freeway is launching its next co-production with Wildcat,John Brown '5 Body, John McGrath‘s study of post-industrial Scotland which will be staged at The Tramway from mid-March. This too will be filmed for Channel 4. I Training For Excellence The Scottish Arts Council is shaking up the world of the Arts Administrator with a new Working Party report about their work. By canvassing some 60 administrators, the report claims to have identified the needs and demands of the job. It concludes with a proposal to introduce a four-tier approach to training: short courses, diploma and degree level courses and an MBA in arts administration. It is hoped that these might be up and running by 1991. Free copies of the report are available from the SAC, 12 Manor Place. Edinburgh EH3 7DD. I Men Wanted Man Act is already well into preparation for its production of The Sweat Lodge in November of this year. The company is currently on the look out for men who would like to get involved in it's robust, poised style of physical theatre. No theatrical experience is required, but it‘d help if you are reasonably fit. lfyou’d like to get involved contact Stephen Slater on 041 332 7521. Workshops will take place at the Third Eye Centre on Fri 16 and Sat 17 Feb. I Tamson's TV The South Bank Show has been paying visits to the Communicado camp over the past couple of months to follow the development of the very wonderfullock 'I'amson ’5 Balms. The results, which include footage of the first week's performances, is to be broadcast on Sunday 18 Feb at 10.35pm.
I Actor’s Shelter A new weekly meeting place for actors has just been setup at The Shelter. 7 Renfrew Court. Renfrew Street. Glasgow. Every Monday evening you can turn up to socialise and to catch up on news of latest auditions and workshops. Meanwhile at Blackfriars Bar. 45 Albion Street. Glasgow, Performance Exchange will be having a club night and workshop
The List 9 — 22 February 1990 47