Peter Arnott‘s new play. Jekyll and Hyde at the 'l‘ramway. and a new theatre venue in Edinburgh.
LISTINGS: THEATRE 57 CABARET 59 DANCE 60
Philip Parr goes multi-cultural as he talks to Stuart Cox about a cosmopolitan response to Robert Louis Stevenson.
Many performances over the past nine months have labelled themselves ‘unique’. That claim. though. has never been more apt than when applied to (ilasgow 'l’ramway's latest venture. Next week there will be a production of a quintessentially Victorian London fable (written by a Scot). by a Welsh company using a multi-racial cast. I asked Theatre Taliesin's director. Stuart (‘ox. about the project.
‘There‘s a number ofstrands to it .' says (’ox (a Yorkshireman. incidentally). "Theatre Taliesin. over the last five years. has been working to
combine different performing arts from the many different cultures in (‘ardiff (ilasgow. even more
than (‘ardiflﬂ is an international city. It's been a centre of immigration and exile from the clearances onwards — (ileIIC communities. the Irish. the Jewish. the European. the Afro-Caribbean. India. Pakistan. even political emigres from ('hile. So our work was very suitable for this project.‘
The company's production ofJekyll and Hyde
will include all of these groups and will feature the music and dance ofeach of their cultures. (’ox sees no problem in this intermingling of what he terms ‘international communities'. but is justifiably angry that others do not share his opinion.
‘People can play any role.‘ he says. ‘it doesn‘t make any difference what their origins are. It‘s the kind ofthing that is very lax in the theatre in this country. Integrated casting is a long way
, behind where it should be. It seems ()K that
white people can play people from other cultural
origins but not the other way round. We're saying = that everybody in this production is Glaswegian
and the people from (ilasgow are telling the story.‘
(‘ox says that the production will try to reinforce the traditional theme of Stevenson’s original — that psychological splits can be healed - with a secondary message that cultural differences can also be overcome. Partly in order to achieve this goal he has chosen. for the title
roles. two performers from Pakistan — Amanullah and Albela.
‘What I wanted to do' he explains. ‘was to try and destroy a general misconception about Muslim culture: that it is wholly serious and based on religion and has no element of fun. There is a long-standing tradition in the Punjab. ofelowns who use verbal and physical improvisation in performance and play the role of satirist — traditionally called bhaands. Albela and Amanullah are contemporary manifestations of this tradition. These guys are ideal for taking the roles ofJekyll and Hyde and turning them around. Their use ofeomedy will take it away from that Victorian madman. Spencer Tracy thing and into the area which we want to look at: a cultural division within the same person. We wanted to say “here are two performers from Pakistan and this is not a preconceived idea of what two performers from a Muslim coutry should be." It‘s to open people‘s awareness that you cannot categorise culture — that's a very dangerous thing to do.
‘What we‘re saying is “(’ome and have the mystery taken away from different cultures." If you go and see performances in isolation it‘s in some people’s interests to make and keep them a mystery so you don't understand quite what is going on. The performance becomes that word "exotic". I hate the word exotic - it's an insult to anybody living on this planet. The cultures of the Earth are there to be shared and understood. If you sit and watch a story and you see different dances. musics and languages telling it. you simply follow the story. It takes the mystery out and takes the exotic out. That has to happen because "exotic" keeps people separate and “understanding” brings people together.
Jekyll and Hyde will be a! Tranm'ay, Glasgow front 19—23 Sept.
1990 is the year in which the Havergai regime at the Citizens' Theatre, Glasgow comes at age.
Observer critic, Michael Coveney. theatre enthusiast and Citizens' regular since 1973, marks the occasion with ‘The Citz’, a lively and eclectic account ot a theatre characterised by wittul sell-determination and broad European outlook, balanced by stringent accounting and socialist insistence on public accessibility. It’s the anecdotal, tactual, impressionistic and critical
I story at the directorial triumvirate
comprising Giles Havergal, Philip
Prowse and Robert David MacDonald
(whose command at languages
increases miraculously from six to
eight within the space at 60 pages),
giving much insight into their
philosophies and working practices. Writing with passion, but also
perspective, Coveney rarely lets
himsell be bogged down by detail,
widening his vista to encompass the
! Scottish, British and European
5 theatrical and political scenes. It's a
. stylethatinitially appearsjumpy-
i switching from James Bridie to Luciano
i Pavarotti with abandon and ioltowing a
thematic, not chronolgical path — but
5 gradually the strands come together to
i create a rounded image of a theatre
: ieeding oil and givingto the real world | £1.75.
The book returns repeatedly and bravely to the debate over the theatre‘s perceived lack of Scottishness- Coveney lorwarding some convincing arguments to do with the Citizens’ isolation from the whole of British practice — but it tails to resolve the fact that young writers in Scotland have no opportunities to write lor main stage spaces, while the accents on stage in the Gorbals are English, not European and certainly not Scottish. The debate will continue to rage.
: (Mark Fisher)
The Citz by Michael Coveney (Nick Hern Books) is published on 27 Sept at
i available is a selection oi postcards
from the book sold in packs at ten tor
_ RUIN 14 .27 September 199051