Star: Past

y; s"

An In the past couple of years. ! Edinburgh's Traverse Theatre has avoided over reliance on the successes of its main stage writers by establishing programmes to nurture the playwrights of tomorrow. The current BBC Scotlandl’l‘raverse Enter Scheme. a three-month course for promising young writers. is a case i in point. .

The problem. however. is that any programme that givesaccess to public performance. brings the concomitant risk of too early exposure to the glare ofaudience and critical disapproval. Soto cultivate new talent in a more healthy environment. the theatre is launching a continuing series of low-budget. low-profile. fifteen-minute experimental performances open. within limits. to all comers.

'It‘s similar to the idea that they used to have short films before the main feature.‘ explains (‘urtain Raisers co-ordinator Andrew Farrell. ‘A lot ofgood filmmakers started out by doing these little experiments.‘

The free studio performances are to precede main-house productions and will give new and established l writers. dancers or musicians the chance to flex their creative muscle. The Traverse offers no financial help. but is on hand to provide professional advice. ‘If somebody gives me a formularised piece.‘ says Farrell. “then I‘m not really interested. lfsomebody's coming to me and they‘re doing something that’s new. that shows a degree of skill. then yes. we’d take it and we don’t care who they are.’

The low profile of Curtain Raisers means that people approaching the theatre with a firm idea now. could find themselves on stage within a month. And they will find themselves fellow performers with everyone from a Chamber Orchestra. to a dance group. to Iain Heggie.‘1ain Hcggie has written a script called The Education ofa Gentle Pervert.‘ says Farrell. “It's

y Farrell: open to experiment.

about a young guy who wants to have

sex with an old man. It‘s a series of verbal and physical exchanges: risks are taken in a very subtle way. It's a very neat piece and very daring.‘ (Mark Fisher)

Mother Well by Kenny Glennan is the l

first Curtain Raiser at the Traverse. Edinburgh. Fri 1-Sun 3 Feb.



l | i

nutm- On the move

l This year Glasgow’s season of new

3 dance, New Moves, kicks off with an E unusual company. Out of Order is made

up of two professional dancers and six

performers with a physical disability or learning difficulty. That said, artistic director Liz Rankin is determined that her devised piece entitled Oooh should stand up to professional criticism. Performers have been carefully

i . selected fortheirartistic ability and

any limitation on style has been turned into creative stimulus.

“For performance spirit some of them are outstanding,’ says Rankin. “They stand out a mile in terms of just being there, totally, with no inhibitions. They are less inhibited than the dancers in improvisation, come up with fabulous ideas and, in terms of commitment are absolutely incredible.’

A certain lack of self-conciousness has seeped through rehearsals into the fabric of the piece, which has become more anarchic as the collaboration progresses. Based on a simple narrative written by Rankin, Oooh is a fairytale with plenty of Lewis Carroll twists. Once upon a time a king and queen had a son who could not crawl at the age he was supposed to. The queen orders a series of tests which become more and more bizarre resulting in a final scene with lots of thunder, lightning and magic. “I’ve divided the piece into scenes so there is a narrative, but it's quite abstract within

Out of Order in “Oooh’.

that,’ Rankin explains. “A lot of the

. material they are performing has been

generated from improvisation.’ Rankin feels she has diverted from similar projects by embracing and exploring each performer’s technical virtuosity. “in no way do I want people to think, “so and so can’t do what I can do, so I won’t do it.” 'Oawn Hartley is a fabulous technical dancer but, for example, at one point they all pretend to be dogs, and are good at it, but she’s much less able.’ The experience benefits all. ‘The dancers are being pushed into an area of experimentation they have never encountered and the people with learning difficulties are pushed into a technical awareness or

5 standard of professionalism they have

never experienced before.’ (Jo Roe)

Oooh is on at the Third Eye Centre, Glasgow, Wed 30 Jan-Sat 2 Feb.

Musselburgh massacre

' Raymond Ross‘s 1990 fltba play “The Beautiful Gemme’.

Henry Oundas was a good bloke wasn’t be? He had to be, just look at the number of streets he had named after him. But town planning can be deceptive as Raymond Ross reveals in his latest play, The Massacre of Tranent. It was Oundas who ruled Lothian at the time of the French Revolution; a time when the British (or more especially the English) were more than a bit afraid of an invasion by swarthy Frenchman lethally armed with revolutionary ideas.

In an attempt to kill two birds with one stone, the authorities decided that the best way to stop both the French and

I theirdangerous ideas would be to

l conscript the proles into a militia. The

l l

good folk of Tranent didn’t have an easy life (being miners to a man and woman) but they weren’ttoo enamoured with the idea of joining the army either, so, in the finest of Scottish traditions, they rioted.

..._ “In the hours afterthe riot’, explains

Ross, ‘the troops themselves ran riot and killed twelve local people. It was a time when “British” identity was being forged and Scotland was still recalcitrant. There was a great deal of sullen resentment against the Union because Scotland was being strait-jacketed into becoming North Britain. But the massacre was as much a class thing as a nationalist thing. Most of those involved in the riot were actually collier serfs - slaves owned by the mine.“

Ross is understandably bemused as to why the massacre of Glencoe should have found its way into the misty romanticism of Scottish folklore while Tranent has remained relatively unheard of. But he feels thatthe play should serve more of a purpose than simply increasing Lothian’s knowledge of its local history.

“I don’t see the play as a historical drama,’ he claims, ‘but as a play for today. it’s about power and politics, it‘s about fracturing social and human relationships, it’s about fearand prejudice and it’s about idealism, community and understanding.’ (Philip Parr)

The Massacre of Tranent is at The Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, 7—23 Feb.

The List 25 January - 7 Februarv 1991

I Edinburgh Young Shakespeare Company A one-off production of .‘xfacbetlt is pencilled in for the end ofluly by a new company of under-21- year‘olds. The company is on the lookout for business and private sponsorship and is soon to hold auditions for new members. \\ rite to them at 36 l lope 'l'ci‘race. Edinburgh. enclosing an SAT-Z for more details I New Members Needed The Livingston Players. now in their list anniversary year. are on the lookout for new members and any one interested is welcome to come along to the Bangour Hospital Recreation Hall at ".3llpin on any Thursday (alternatively call Alex Kemp on llSllb M372 ). The company is currently working towards a production in May of [he Music Man at the Mews Theatre and could do with a few people. for the chorus in particular.


3i, §.ACCID£NTAL DEATH i a'OF AN Mcarsr

lAccidental Death ofan Anarchist Dario l‘o (.‘ylethuen £4 WlQuick intoprint is a new translation by Tim Supple and Alan (‘umming— he of Victor and Barry of Fo‘s police-state farce which strangely made its only Scottish appearance fora few nightsin (’umbernauld on its recent National Theatre tour 'l'hishighly-rated version makes pertinent references to the Birmingham Six and the (iuildtord Four. and included here are liSL‘lUl notes about to. the play and the translation Recommended. l The Rose Theatre (‘hristine liccles ( Nick llern Books L895 i This one has been in the shops for a couple of months. but is worth checkingout. both for its detailed description ol the contemporary cxcayation and campaign to s.l\L' the loth century London tlicatie. and for its fascinating rc-creation of social and political life of the day. A highly readable. substantial account. based on the very latest information that came to light as a result of the tlieatre's re-discovery.

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