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am Dudley. designer of The Ship. along the bilges of the ship on three levels ofdeck. He sees the promenade device as inducing a spiritual experience: "I‘here is something cathedral-like about it: all these vaulting ribs. giving an echo of a church-like congregation.‘
Bryden is emphatic. however. that ‘the object of promenade theatre isn’t about giving the audience a bad time. No one need be afraid of being embarrassed or molested. I would absolutely forbid that.‘
As such. the audience will be able to smell the sweat. without getting it rubbed in their faces. so to speak. Milling around them. and wielding specially shielded welding equipment. will be Bryden’s heroes. the eight-strong workforce of local welders. burners and platers. trained in the shipyards ofUCS. Fairfield and Kvaerner (ioyan.
Bryden is determined to match the spectacles of Pavarotti and the Bolshoi in this. a frantic attempt by Glasgow District Council to stamp a Scottish identity on a festival largely hijacked by international biggies. ‘People felt that the New Year celebrations were a disaster. I was there and I was ashamed. The Ship is a national event taking place in Glasgow. so we must not be second-class citizens. We must prove that we are up to the
Director Bill Bryden.
8'I‘he List 31 August — 13 September 1990
challenge. Scotland can do whatever she wants. as long as she wants to do it. given a bit of luck and enlightened sponsorship. The audience are not the driving force. it has got to be the artist who wants it. Then the people will rejoice in it.‘
Bryden knows. however. that the audience are what counts. since to launch The Ship with convincing force will involve attracting at least 900 passengers per night. and as such. relying upon a sustained response from the shipbuilding community itself. Jim Coleman. steel fabrication manager of The Ship. has worked in the shipyards since he was sixteen. and is optimistic about the response from the local community. paying tribute to the accuracy of the language and humour in Bryden’s script: ‘It's a humour which is crude and rude and particular to the shipyards. At times even I blush.’
The Ship’s company so far seem to have had little feedback from the Govan community. bar the odd taxi driver who has responded with a mixture ofamazement and mirth at the thought of a launch a night — at one time the idea was to launch into the Clyde itself. Bryden. however genuine in motive. must surely be verging upon dewy-eyed nostalgia if The Ship fails to attract those whom it professes to celebrate.
‘This is not nostalgia. it‘s a prideful remembrance. There was a genuine pride in the work. and I remember the thrill oflaunch day and ofthe [UCS] work-in. and I remember quite clearly Jimmy Reid and Jimmy Airlie. and I think we’ve got to honour our history. These are the people from whence we came and without them we wouldn’t be anything. Yes. our memory is edited; it is a selective process. What I remember is the humour. the pride. the sheer spunk ofthese people. and it's still there yet. That hasn‘t died. It has survived the terrible turmoil since the main industry has faded.‘
As guardians of Glasgow‘s industrial and cultural heritage. will Bryden and Dudley in the future be designing the skeletons ofghostly shopping malls. for two hours of respectful remembrance of the agony of a Saturday afternoon in that glinting geometrical giant that was life in the 90s? Bryden. to his credit. is all too aware ofthe parodic possibilities. ‘My fantasy is that there will be this restaurant called The Shipyard with all the waiters wearing bunnets and welders‘ masks.‘ he says. ‘The menu will be bits of steel plaid and we'll be eating welder‘s stew and riveter’s ravioli. I mean. I‘ve recently had lunch in a fire station and dinner in a rotunda building. I find that horrible. It was a perfectly nice lunch. but the whole thing was bizarre.‘
Plans for the ship‘s structure after the show finishes range from touring the production around shipbuilding areas. particularly Belfast. to erecting it as a promenade theatre somewhere in Strathclyde.
Both Bryden and Dudley are vague about the actual launch; the crescendo of a performance. which will leave the slipway free of the giant which nurtures the evening‘s thrills and spills. ‘It just gets launched.’ hints an evasively straight-faced Bryden. in a manner which certainly promises more than your average Shattered champagne bottle and a few floppy hats.
Special previews of The Ship run [0—14Sept.‘
7. 30pm. The production prOper runs M on-Sat, 7.30pm, 15 Sept—27 Oct. Matinees 2pm: 22. 26, 28 Sept;3, 5, 10, 13, 17, 20, 24, 26 Oct. Further . information and booking details from The Ticket
Centre, Candleriggs, Glasgow, 04] 22 7551 1 . 4