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Red Stripe at night

‘You don‘t know how embarrassing it is having to hold one of these. lteel like a forest ranger.”

Frank Skinner is not clutching a felled possum to his chest. but a vodaphone to his ear. When I phoned. he was enjoying the cuisine of a Little Chef just outside Oxford on the latest leg oi The Red Stripe Comedy Tour which trundles up to Glasgow on 14 October.

Featuring some of the less caustic alternatives - Henry Normal and Jo Brand in addition to compere Skinner the tour is most notable for its donation of profits to Amnesty and its altruistic afternoon comedy workshops designed to increase the competition for Skinner, Brand et at. I asked Skinner about his motives for increasing numbers in an already swamped alternative comedy market.

‘The whole purpose of the workshog.‘ he explains, ‘is totake thatstep from being funny in pub conversation and turn it into some sort of stage craft— into something that you can do at a public performance. l‘m trying to make them funny, but notveryfunny. lwant people to come up to them and say. “You‘re funny, but bloody hell. Frank Skinner‘s very funny." It's a case of channelling their natural humour into something saleable.‘

Something saleable? And teaching stage craft? Are these imponant considerationsforwouId-be ahernahves?

The Sunday Stripe comedy crew.

‘Detinitely. ’Cos you know stage crait soundsa Ditartyfarty “Lookl‘ve gota chiffonscarfonand I've come straight from RADA." But it‘s nothing like that. Whenltirststartedlthoughtthalit would be just like pub conversation. ! got up and completely died on my arse iorthefirstfewtimes llwouldhave reailyhelped itl'd had othercomicsto talkto and tell me where l was going wrong.

‘You can only really get oontidence from going upon stage. butwe can help people with the basics. it's like driving: it you're going to drive somewhere. it's guite t‘iandyto havettie Ministry of Transport manual. 'riowwi‘iatacar looks like and kndwwherethe gear levers going to be before you set oil. it you‘re trying to be a comedian it helps to know whatisfunnyandwhatisn't.‘ (Philip Perri.

The CornedyWerkshop is alThe Pavilion Theatre. Glasgow at. 2. 30pm an it“? October. Details on 0836 404 980C Enguiriesare particularty appreciatedtrom tomale comics who are usually under—represented.

.Vf-NE a Bath time

1990 has been a good year for Mandela Theatre Company. even in Edinburgh. Fresh from Fringe success with The Dorm. they'vejustwonthatpractical mark ofofficial recognition. theirfirst ScottishArts Council grant. Meanwhile. they've an intriguing double-bill otnewplays lined uptoran autumntour.

There maybe a common theme of tamin pressure. but Mandela's Kirsty Regan reckonsthetwopieces will be linked more by the company's performance style than by narrative similarities. Playwright David Strachan is currentlyinvolved in rehearsals for his Dog In The Bath. which probesa family's reactionsto the return from South Africa of a brother who's failed to make it. Strachan may not be a name tamiliarto many playgoers. but both the Traverse and Dundee Repthink highlyol him. Regan adds. with a certain amount of satisfaction. thatMandela are more than pleased to be staging one of his plays beforetheirestablished rivals.

Completingthedouble-bill. Janet Dye of Oxygen House directs a new adaptation otCharlotte Perkins Gilman‘s The Yellow Wallpaper. A turn-of-ihe—centuryhorrorstory

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youngwoman'sphysicaland psychologicalcontrnementatlerihe birth of her child. As with Poe. the detailsobsessmhere. the patternofthe wallpaper.

Afterihistour. Mandelaaiealnring to venturebeyondtheirusualstamping ground. Contact with List cover stars Volcano Theatrefrorn Swansea. anothercontpanytavomingvery physicalacting. could leadto Welsh dates. Dublin is a possibility. while consistentlygood Fringereviewstrom London critics havegiventhema springboardto workinEngland. iKenCocxburnl Dog In The Bath The Yellow Wallpaper plays atTheatre Workstmp. Edinburgh. 2427 Octbeforeashortcommunily tour.

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