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I Promising playwright Chris Hannan. has been voted Most Promising Playwright in the Plays and Players London ( 'rirt'cs A wards 1990. The play that caught the pundits' imagination was The Evil Doers. which opened about the same time as his The Baby was playing at The Tron in Glasgow. Nick liern Books has plans to publish a collection of l lannan's plays later this year. I Edinburgh Festival This year‘s Edinburgh International Festival runs from Sun l l--Sat 31 Aug The Eli" has just released a preliminary leaflet to give a taster of things to come which includes the return of Ninagawa from Japan. Kenneth Branagh‘s Rennaisance. the Berlin ()pcia Ballet and Philippe (icnty. lfyou'd like to receive your own free copy of the programme when it is published. send your name and address to lidinhurgh festival. 21 Market Street. Edinburgh [ill/112W. I Edinburgh Fringe li‘sa little longer wait until this year’s Fringe programme is out. but ifyou'd like to be first in the queue. send Slip in stamps to Box 1.. Fringe Office. 180 High Street. lidin/mrgh lz'HI IQS. The programme is published at the end of June.
v IN PRINT ,
I Plays By Women: Eight lid: Mary Remnant (Mcthucn £6.99) The latest edition in this long-runningseries brings together seven recently produced play s by w omen writers. in the selection are two short pieces.
‘I awards [itching and ll'u/kies Time. by (ilasgow‘s lina Lamont Stewart. pertormcd at lidinburgh's ’l‘raycrse in 1985. \s hilc Irmtmtslress by April l)c Angelisand [he (hie-Sided Wall by Janet (‘rcsswell and Niki Johnson have both been seen in lidinburgh in the last couple of years.
lzlscyshcrc. tlici'c isa bilingual tinglish Bengali drama and a play about surrogate motherhood. and each play comes Complete w ith comments from the authors. An excellent introduction to the range ofcurrcnt writing.
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Stuart Hepburn starring as John P
He’s never played in Arthur Miller belore and, surprisingly, this Royal Lyceum production is his first major lead role, but Stuart Hepburn is nonetheless particularly well qualified tor the central role at John Proctor in The Crucible. Miller’s recreation of the 17th century witch trials in Salem, most recently seen in Scotland in severely deconstructed form at the hands at the Wooster Group, was a thinly veiled response to the paranoid commie-bashing purge ol Senator McCarthy in 19503 USA, an era on which Hepburn is well brieied.
‘I did a course in American history at university,‘ says Hepburn, ‘and McCarthyism was part ol that. Sol know a lair bit about it. lthink there is a bit of heroicism about Proctor—this
‘And the hysteria oi troupes at war at the
upright man who erred, who was not a saint, who in the end grasped the nettle and went to his death with dignity. There’s no doubt at all that that’s Arthur Miller.’
The play, at course, has to work in its own terms— Miller locates it very precisely in time — but its enduring popularity is due both to its undercurrents oi repressed sexuality and its continuing contemporary resonances. ‘I don’t think the girls have conjured up Saddam Hussein or any parallel like that,’ says Hepburn, ‘but everyone can remember, say, the Cleveland child abuse situation in 1987 when something akin to a witch hunt took place — a hysterical chain reaction. Also I remember seeing the death at Ayatollah Khomeni, where the man was torn lrom his coilin, because 20,000 people wanted to touch him.
As a busy and successlul playwright himsell, Hepburn is quick to praise Miller’s watertight plot construction and his ability to engage an audience. ‘Every single entrance is unexpected,‘ he says. ‘Every one comes at a point at crisis- somebody else comes in and the whole thing changes, the whole thing moves on. My aim is to involve the audience emotionally, to challenge | them intellectually and send them out ' angry, uplitted, sad and horrilied. Because all the things that happen in the play are happening today.’ (Mark Fisher)
The Crucible, Thurs 21 Feb—Sat 2 Mar, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh. Tickets available lrom Royal Lyceum Theatre Box Ottice, Grindlay Street, 229 9297.
The out-going artistic director oi the Royal Shakespeare Company, Terry Hands, is bringing his linal live-week, ten-play season to Newcastle upon Tyne. A much-admired and critically
acclaimed body oi work includes Hand’s swan song for the company, an intelligent and heart-stopping production at The Seagull, which has some excellent ensemble work and a near-perfect Konstanin from Simon Russell Beale, who started his acting career at the Traverse in Edinburgh in the mid-805.
Beale also gives a bravura perlormance in the gloriously camp production of Marlowe‘s Edward II - directed by ex-Citizens’ actor Gerard Murphy—and is a splendidly rancid Theresites in Sam Mendes’ line production at Troilus and Cressida, with its harrowing and timely comments on the lutility at war. Less successlully, Beale plays an adolescent King at Navarre in Terry Hands’ ravishineg beautilul Love’s Labour’s Lost, which looks like Manet’s ‘Deieuner sur I’herbe’ brought to tile.
King Lear, directed by Nicholas Hytner, has John Wood as an
Linda Kerr Scott as the Fool and John Wood E as King Lear in the RSC’s production '
intellectually stimulating, but ultimately unmoving Lear. Set in a ( dizzying, spinning, hi-tech white cube, the production has a wonderlul Scottisl Fool irom Edinburgh actorand mime artist, Linda Kerr Scott, and linds its emotional truth in David Troughton‘s Kent and Norman Rodway’s
While no woman in Coronation Stree‘ is sale from the predations ot the actor William Roach’s Ken Barlow, his son, Linus Roach, plays a sexy, Iascivious Don in Nick Dear’s leminist re-working j at Tirso de Molina’s The Last Days of ‘ Don Juan. in Two Shakespearean | Actors, the American playwright Richard Nelson presents a bitchily comic view at thesbian rivalry, while the director Ian Judge, whose production oi Show Boat tor the RSC will be seen in Edinburgh laterthis month, comes up with a novel solution to the twin problems at The Comedy oi Errors. (Jackie McGlone)
The RSC’s season runs lrom Mon 11 Feb—Sat 16 Mar at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle, 091 232 2061.
THEATRE 47 CABARET 50 DANCE 50
V NEW PLAY
Might and Main.
‘1 think what's interesting,‘ says Might and Main company member Gail Sixsmith about its new production. Sin. ’is that it juxtaposes intense, harsh or disturbing things with those that are absurd or surreal. That juxtaposition causes a tension.‘
The show. devised by the company‘s three members plus three actors, is a sequence of six stories symbolically linked by the passage of a ring. Each episode has its own identity. while the production as a whole is characterised by the company‘s commitment to physical theatre. In the past they’ve worked with everyone from The Kosh and Theatre de Complicité to Grotowski. and this show like their last one. Man ofStraw. dispenses with lighting. props or sound effects in order to give ultimate scope to the actor.
’It demands a lot ofcreative involvement of the audience.‘ says Sixsmith. ‘and a lot oftheir imagination.‘ The company is agreed that the technique focuses the actor's craft so as to create stage effects as powerful as mechanical trickery ever could. At various points in the performance the actors rc-create anything from the throwing of a die to the ravenous cries of a story-hungry pack of newshounds. using vocal. physical and acrobatic skills alone.
As the play moves from Latin America to the East End of London, from northern England to a showbizzy circus. it explores the nature ofsin in the contemporary world. It's a theme that grew out of early free improvisations — or ‘group soups‘ as they call them — and it has more to do with a sense ofcommunal morality than any religious commitment. ‘lt‘s to do with the way in which individuals corrupt their society.‘ explains fellow company member Chris Oades. ’and in turn society corrupts individuals.‘
‘lt has to do with a sense ofliving in a society that‘s worth living in.‘ agrees Sixsmith. ‘Everybody has a responsibility to make that possible.‘ (Mark Fisher)
Sin, Wed 20—Sat23 Feb. Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh.