v NEW PLAY GOVAN IT ALL
‘I think there is a tremendous commitment to new writing in Scotland.‘ Rowena Benn earnestly decides. ‘The reason is so simple — people want to see new plays. it's a very important area and one crucial to the development of Scottish culture.‘
Over the past year Benn. assistant director with 7:84 Scottish People‘s Theatre. has worked in (iovan on a project developing writing and shared experience. The dozen members who participated in the original workshops have seen their ideas come to fruition in Goran Stories. 7:84‘s Mayfest production. which stands testimony to the company‘s ongoing commitment to community theatre and new writing. It‘s also another chapter in the tale ofthe strong links 7:84 have forged with the area over the years; Artistic Director David llayman collaborated closely with the community when he directed the television play (:‘ovan Ghost Story. and Govan played host to the last production of 7284‘s Long Story Short.
Gavan Stories encompasses a mixture of forms and includes eleven monologues. short stories and poetry. ‘The writing wasn‘t approached theatrically to begin with. but it is so good that it deserves a theatrical presentation.‘ explains Benn. insisting that the stories are not mere dallies down memory lane but have contemporary resonance. ‘They‘re from the people of Govan but they‘re not specifically about old Govan. We have a diverse group of writers from a schoolgirl of 15 to an old lady of82. so obviously their experience of Govan comes from different perspectives.
They‘re intensely personal narratives and it‘s a very humane and atmospheric production.‘
Benn is keen to point out that Govan Stories is no exercise in indulgence: ‘There‘s always a problem putting something new on but we all shared one strong motive — to put on something good. Everyone who wrote anything had something to say. something worth listening to.‘ (Sara Villiers)
arma- Russran around
The Stars of the Bolshoi Ballet, a troupe ol thirty dancers handpicked from the BOO-strong company and led by prima ballerina Natalya Bessmertnova, is a small scale tour-friendly version at Moscow’s most celebrated cultural export. This month, the company comes to Edinburgh's Playhouse Theatre with a mixed programme of works. Act II from Swan Lake (the first of the ballet’s two ‘white’ ethereal lakeside acts), is lollowed by nine short divertissements, including the bravura pas de deux from Le Corsaire and grand pas from Don Quixote, plus the slushy adagios from Grigorovich’s The Golden Age and Spartacus. Unfortunately, a number of dancers— Nlna Ananiashvili, Nadezhda Pavlova,
‘ director, whose uncompromising .
lrek Mukhamedov—who have become lirm favourites amongst Bolshoi fans here, will not be appearing. The company does, however, boast such accomplished performers as Maria Bylova, Yuri Vasyunchenko and Bessmertnova, wife of Yuri Grigorovich, the Bolshoi's artistic
Lyudmilla Semenyaka and, ot the men, I
vision has ruled the institution for over 25 years. Grigorovich ballets such as Spartacus have certainly been responsible for shaping our perception of the Soviet male dancer: huge, muscular and able to reach phenomenal heights when leaping. But the Bolshoi also possesses a superb corps de ballet of women, employed more in the company's classical works than in Grigorovich's so-called contemporary ballets.
Perhaps it’s of little consequence that . the Bolshoi’s repertoire— or at least the i programme of works it chooses to show on this tour— is so unadventurous. tor i what audiences clearly appreciate most about the Bolshoi is its dancers. It you can afford the ludicrous ticket prices, The Stars of the Bolshoi Ballet is worth a look. As a sample of the Bolshoi style, its dance rhythm and, as the American critic Edwin Denby observed during a Bolshoi season 31 years ago in New York, with its ample strength, weight and easy power in movement, you are likely to witness qualities all too rare in British ballet. (Sophie Constanti)
The Stars at the Bolshoi Ballet, Playhouse Theatre, Edinburgh. Wed : 2-Fri 4 May.
. V NEW PLAY
; In the last couple at weeks, the line . between tact and fiction has become
increasingly blurred. As The Sun and The Mirror screamed about the hangings, kangaroo courts and castrations in Strangeways, the prisoners themselves must have been sitting up on the root, bemused and
g incredulous. The latest offering from
The Mandela Theatre Company should come as a welcome reassertion at old values: it‘s theatre, so it's got to be make believe hasn’t it? Apparently, not so. ‘All ol the characters are based on people who I knew in detention centre’, says The Dorm’s writer, Lance Flynn, ‘and the situations which you see them having to cope with all happened as well.’
Flynn was in a detention centre at the age mm, but never graduated onto the real thing, prison. A case of the short, sharp shock actually working?
‘No, not really,’ he says. ‘The reason why I decided I couldn’t go back into a ‘ detention centre didn't have anything to do with being scared or disciplined, it was just that the whole place was a joke. Everybody in the detention centre, the warders and the prisoners,
, were just playing a role. There’s a
hierarchy amongst the prisoners but the warders are just as bad. They run the place like it's the army and have a really petty approach to discipline.
There’s a lot of marching and , shouting. . . ilyou can’t march you‘re tucked.’ ' ‘l’ve tried to give an impression ol the 3 unreality of life in a detention centre. _ Deception runs right through the whole system from your mum telling the neighbours that you’re on holiday in Spain to censorship of your mail inside. I’d say that the play is more a comedy than anything else because I , hope it shows the absurdity of this i situation. There’s a lot of 17-20 year ; olds who are away from home for the i first time and who treat the whole ; experience like a big adventure.’ ! (Philip Parr) The Dorm will be at The Theatre Workshop, Edinburgh from 25—28 Apr.
THEATRE 48 CABAHET 52 DANCE 54
V NEW PLAYS" I“
At last! A season of plays and related events packaged together and it's not being called a festival. While the Science Festival passes. Mayfest beckons and the (‘hildren‘s Festival looms. the prospect of Off The Wall is deeply appealing to the beleagured listings editor.
And for those of us who make periodic complaints that the Royal Lyceum does far too little in the way of new writing (translations aside). a programme of present-day plays on the main stage is very welcome. Behind it all is Tom McGrath. Scottish Arts Council Associate Literary Director. who has combined a passion for the imagination of German playwrights with his commitment to Scottish theatre. The two week programme encompasses readings. performances. talks. workshops. even films. largely put forward as work-in-progress. and presented as an introduction to some of our more exciting dramatic voices. rather than a comprehensive guide.
Representing Germany are lleiner Milller and Tankred Dorst who will make personal appearances to introduce selections oftheir writings and. in the case of Dorst. his own films. Afternoon discussion and reading sessions lead into evening performances — some full-scale productions. others fully directed readings. Representing the home side are the young Grace Barnes. a Shetlander currently studying in Australia. and the somewhat older R.S. Silver whose The Bruce is performed for the first time ever. despite being written in 1949.
The mix of writers and scripts is complemented by a range of directors including McGrath himself. the Traverse's Ben Twist. Ron Bain of ( ‘t'ty Lights. the Royal Lyceum‘s Ian Wooldridge. and British-based German director Michael Batz. ‘ln Scotland you don’t appreciate what an arid desert English theatre has become.‘ says Batz who is reviving his own productions of two lleiner Muller plays. ‘I don‘t think British writers take risks. with the honourable exception of some Scottish writers. Miiller does nothing but take risks. He comes from a completely different tradition in which the writer starts from the premise that anything is possible.‘ (Mark Fisher). Off The Wall is at the Royal I .yeetmi. Edinburgh. [—12 May. see listings. Full programme ai'at'lalilelrom the theatre.
The List ll) April — 3 May 199047