Set up in May 1989. Stage International promote cultural relations between East-Central Europe and Britain. taking British companies abroad and bringing European companies over here. Their latest venture involves the experimental Polish company. Mandala. reputed for their unique vision and impressive acting ability.
Company co-founder Catarzyna Deszcz explained that Polish theatre falls roughly into three categories. ‘In Poland official theatre and experimental theatre are very different. The official theatre. traditional theatre. is very popular. Student theatre has been very popular for the last six years because it was political opposition. Then we have the third kind oftheatre. experimentalist. like Kantor for example. My work is ofthe third kind.‘
Dodging Party censorship as well as providing an alternative to official government-promoted theatre, Mandala are interested in aesthetics rather than politics. ’Ifthe theatre is aesthetic or artistic the authorities don‘t know what to do with it.‘ Deszcz points out.
Madala‘s work relies on a formal language rather than text. which makes it internationally accessible.
‘We were trying to develop a ' language in the theatre that would communicate with more than one country or culture. Our work does not use normal dialogue. We try to prepare a special language. which is like a dream.‘
They have been well received in numerous countries outside Poland. ‘When I see people reacting at the time ofthe performance. I know that they understand. One time we had a German group who were sitting for fifty minutes absolutely silent. only watching and doing nothing. After some time one person started to smile. By the end of the performance. they were all smiling and laughing.‘
Mandala '3 latest play. Threetwoone. which tours Britain from May 12. was inspired by Marcel Duchamp‘s mockingly intellectual The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even. Judging by past response, Threetwoone will be equally quizzical. its humour providing the key. (Jo Roe) Threetwoone, Arches Theatre,
Glasgow 29 May—2 J une; Theatre Workshop, Edinburgh 5—61une.
V NEW PLAY
Breaking lrom a tried and tested tradition, Oxygen House have opened their stage doors to a cast at twenty, largely untrained. So iarthe project has generated enthusiasm and excitement lrom directorJohn Mitchell and co-authors June Taylor and Louise
‘lt’s very challenging,’ remarks Taylor. ‘Because we’re working with such a large cast there are loads at experiences. There are lolk in their lorties and talk at eighteen, which has created a big melting pot of ideas and
Alter working on a collection at scenarios, ideas were taken to
improvisation and then formulated into I a script. Entitled Trade, the play deals
| with dillicult issues: prostitution, HIV
' and AIDS, child sex abuse and intravenous drug use. ‘lt’s about sexuality, which is always a sensitive issue,’ Louise lronside points out. ‘Especially when you are in a cast at twenty people who you probably don’t
Oxygen House co-lounder John
' Mitchell feels he has teamed a lot lrom the project. ‘I did come into it thinking, I'm male and I’ve got my male luggage, so it someone turns around to me during the rehearsals, accusing me at being sexist, that may well be the case. I try not to be lrightened at that.
Working on a project like this is about
honesty, and it’s also got to get every one leellng good about themselves, leellng comiortable, even though I think there will be areas in the show which aren’t comlortable to watch. It’s not a comlortable subject.’
Trade is a panorama ot views rather than a polemic on prostitution. ‘We can’t cover all the ways people perceive prostitlon,’ says June Taylor. ‘Over the years we have seen things like the Glasgow Herald who printed a hall-page story last year with the headline Killer On the,8treets. That promotes the idea that women and men working as prostitutes are out there spreading the virus. It also suggests that they are irresponsible. It’s not the person you are sleeping with, it’s what you do, how you protect yoursell. Women who work as prostitutes are stigmatlsed already. The HIV thing has meant they have been doubly stigmatlsed and then it they are also a drug user they are trebly stigmatlsed.’ (Jo Roe)
Trade, Netherbow Theatre, Edinburgh, 30 May-9 June.
V NEW PLAY
E m LISTINGS: THEATRE 62 CABARET 65 DANCE 66
In 1920 the people at Leith held a referendum about the proposed amalgamation at their port with the city at Edinburgh. Fired by a persuasive campaign by the Leith Observer and alraid of being swallowed up by their gentrilied neighbours, they voted overwhelmingly against the marriage. The plebiscite, however, aroused little concern in Edinburgh and, more importantly, had no validity in law and the mergerwent ahead regardless. Seventy years on, its identity still lirmly intact, Leith is able to celebrate both the amalgamation and the survival at its own character. From the other side at town, Theatre Workshop has used its experience at working with community groups in the area, to draw together a large-scale performance project commemorating seven decades at unilication. ‘A lot oi the particpants leel a vested interest in the subject matter,’ explains co-dlrector : Adrian Harris. ‘They have a ! commitment to wanting to tell the story. When you tell people a story it is a validation at your experience.’ ; Involving 120 volunteers, 70 at whom will be on stage, The Lightning Plebiscite takes the lorm of a 90th birthday party to which the audience are guests. Based on material uncovered by playwright Janet Fenton lrom a Reminiscence Project involving some at Lelth's older residents, the play is a blend at music, large-scale
group scenes and story-telling. ‘These projects enable you to bring together people who would never normally meet up,’ Harris explains. ‘Some ol the musicians have a background in traditional Scottish music, there’s another group who are Asian musicians and who subdivide into classical and
popularAsianmusic.Theywould never i researchjhcmsandthc
normally be able to lind out what they have in common and what they can learn lrom each other.’
two observers lrom Gdansk, where Theatre Workshop is heading next year to set up what will be Poland’s first ever community theatre project. ‘It doesn’t exist there,’ says Harris. ‘They lind it really interesting that most at the participants are not regular theatre-goers, but something makes them want to do this sort at project.’ (Mark Fisher).
The Lightning Plebiscite, Leith Theatre, Edinburgh, Wed 23-Sat 26 May.
V NEW PLAY.
MYSTERY cm! ’
One year on and Glasgow‘s biggest community theatre scheme has mutated into something as weird and wonderful as last year‘s Malachie's Dream. Now established as a company limited by guarantee. City Community Projects have branched out beyond the vast space of the Tramway. to turn the whole ofGlasgow intoa stage.
Starting out at Buchanan Bus Station, up to 800 people will file onto Eastern Scottish double-dccker buses to be driven to one of three as yet unspecified sites. On each deck of each bus there will be a courier to guide the audience through the evening as they call in on performances at a stretch of water, an industrial site and an ancient part ofthe city. Which order you see them in depends on which bus you get.
Co-director Fiona Miller finds it easiest to describe City 1990 by talking about what it is not. ‘1! is not a historical pageant.‘ she explains. ‘it won‘t try to give a potted history ofGlasgow. It's not a play. because the audience will see it in different orders. We‘re not trying to say. This is Glasgow. The form of presentation will be very different. It won‘t be carried through on a narrative line and it won‘t have main characters. it‘s
a series of images and actions. the ideas for which have come from the
2 people in the cast.‘
Making much use of
music and capitalisingon Also learning irom the experience are 5 individual sites. ('ily I990
the atmosphere of the
can be seen loosely as a tribute to industry and to those who built Glasgow. And what about the weather? ‘Rain and wind are very atmospheric.‘ Millerassures me. ’lfit comes you get wet. But in 1le years of records this is the driest weekend.‘ (Mark Fisher)
('in I 990. Buchanan Bus Station. Glasgow. 3/ May—2 J une. 0. 45pm.
The List 18—31 May 199061