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Multi-cultual Magical Circus

'We‘re trying to get people in and discuss: to get off their chests what’s bugging them about the world. We‘ve got to try and build up a good following among people who want peace and obviously nearly everyone does and we‘ve got to pull that feeling out ofpeople and get them to shout about it.‘

(.‘olin Usher from The HFC Theatre Company is talking about the motives behind the Edinburgh Peace Festival and the starring role of his company. the Multi-Cultural Magic Circus. on the last day. The circus features acts from Glasgow and Edinburgh which represent each of the five continents and Usher stresses that the extravaganza is more than an end-of-term party for the Peace Festival organisers.

"There‘s a shadow over peace festivals and demonstrations when people pigeon-hole them as studenty events and that‘s simply not true. ()ther events in the festival will attract audiences from the punk and jazz sectors of Edinburgh. but with the MCM(.‘ we're trying to get everybody in. Some people may have felt embarrassed about going to some of the other shows because they thought they might not fit in. but it won‘t be like that here.‘

The circus has three rings (one of which will be set in the middle of the a"'lience) featuring dancers, musicians. Chinese acrobats and Asian jugglers. Although all ofthe performers are Scottish. Usher feels that their respective cultures shine through.

‘You‘d be surprised just how strong a beliefpeople have in their own cultures. Even though they‘re fourth and fifth generation. they still have a very strong feeling. The MCMC will give a new insight into what circus should be. Circus in the past. in addition to being cruel to animals. has also been racist; it's always been a white thing. You'd never have a multi-cultural act in the show. That's such a shame. because these artists have so much more pride than British circus performers, especially in the case ofthe Chinese. It‘s more an art form than just flinging about a few batons.‘ (Philip Parr)

The Mufti-Cultural Magic Circus is at The Assembly Rooms. Edinburgh on Sat 9 March.

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Carry on Heggie

Plays tend to come in two sizes: long and very long. In the absence of regular lunchtime theatre, it’s rare for bite-size drama to see the light of day. lain Heggie, currently writer-ln-residence at Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre and arguably Scotland's most exciting young playwright, has overcome the problem by giving Theatre Positive + a bundle of new and rarely seen mini-dramas to stage in one go.

Billed as a Night Of Gentle Sex Comedies, the performance brings together nine plays of between six and fifteen minutes, which share a common theme of sexuality and Heggie’s sometimes black, sometimes farcical and mostly unsettling sense of humour.

‘One of the things that lieggie talks about in his writing,’ says director lain Beckie, ‘is how sex, sexuality and power have a very big part in our lives, it’s an essential part in everything we

5 do, therefore it’s got to have a part in

, everything he writes about. The plays

are comedies, but they deal with the biggest of themes. The humour sets you on edge. It doesn’t let you off the hook. You laugh uncomfortany because you see yourself and you have to ask questions.’

Dealing with both hetrosexual and homosexual relationships, the plays span an age range from the young boys

Director lain Reekie

in Waiting For Shuggie’s Ma (last performed by Oxygen House), to the two 60-year-old men with less than honourable intentions in The Cake. ‘One thing that's important for us in the rehearsal process,‘ says Beckie, ‘is to be very distinct in each piece, because they are so different and the last thing the evening should be is a wash. They are self-contained plays as opposed to sketches. The stakes are just the right size for a small play. Each one is a little story.

‘We’re taking a very Carry On approach to it,’ he continues, without wanting to associate Heggle's writing with seaside smut. ‘It has that kind of pace, that kind of heightened acting and observation. lt’s frenetic, but it’s disciplined. lain Heggle’s plays don’t work when you relax and say “let’s see what comes out of them". They’re written in a heightened way and you have to perform them like that. l like the Carry On comparison, because they’ve got that kind of energy.’ (Mark Fisher)

A Night Of Gentle Sex Comedies is at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Wed 20—Sun 24 Mar, and will be performed in Glasgow next month.


I Scottish Theatre Awards The public judging panel for the first ever Scottish Theatre awards has been confirmed and it includes List-reader William Thomson (Glasgow) who responded to an appeal in this column in November. He'll be seeing at least one play a week from the beginningof the next financial year and voting for the high-achievers he discovers on his travels.

I I Glad delay The (irassmarket Project has decided to hold off from its proposed (ilasgow University dates (reported last issue) and nowexpects tobriug (Had. the show by and about homeless men. to Glasgow in May.

I Borderline change John Murtagh has taken over from Morag i‘ullei ton as Artistic Director of Borderline Theatre. He's been working with the company as a director since was and he was also responsible for the snappy panto at (ilasgow's Pavilion this year. Morag Fullerton. meanwhile. is getting involved in 'l'\' direction and is working on a TV script with Robbie ('oltrane.

I SSDFThis year's Scottish Student Drama Festival takes place in St Andrews between bl 13 April. ()ne ofthe highlights will be a public

Let’s do

the show right here

‘The musical is probably the most important of any art form of the 20th century,‘ says Stephen Citron with the enthusiasm of the true obsessive. And he knows what he's talking about. He may not be in the Lloyd Webber class of money-spinners, but this genial American has written lyrics and music for four off-Broadway and two Broadway shows and he numbers Stephen Sondheim among his personal friends.

But perhaps his lasting contribution ls a newly published book, The Musical: From The Inside Out, an exhaustive but highly readable analysis of the way a musical is constructed. Rich in lively anecdote and peppered with equally compulsive footnotes, the book is aimed both at those who want to create their own musical and at the general reader keen to get a peek behind the scenes. ‘lt's looking at it both ways,’ agrees Citron, ‘You’ll find amusing stories at the same time as technical details which you might want to skip over.’

In practice it's very difficult to skip anything; you repeatedly find yourself engrossed in dull-sounding sections like ‘Ascertainlng what is copyright material’, because of incidental details like the mid-western American who copyrighted Happy Birthday. Citron backs up his advice with wide-ranging interviews with practitioners and critics, notably Mark Steyn of The Independent who is one of the very few national press writers to have engaged properly with the musical.

At a time when big shows are turning up in Scotland with increasing frequency, from the amateur seasons at the Glasgow King's to The King And i, 42nd Street, Show Boat and soon Chess in Edinburgh, such a practical and entertaining book is timely and welcome. ‘When a musical comes together it's glorious,’ says Citron, ‘but it's the most difficult form to get together. You have the choreography, the costumes, the sets, the alternation between slow songs and fast songs, the cleverness that has to be taken out, to have some hits and some 'book’ songs that move the action forward - those kind of things have to be considered. I can't teach anybody to write a great song, but I can teach them to write a song that makes sense, that is professional and that avoids the pitfalls of amateurism.’ (Mark Fisher)

The Musical: From The Inside Out by Stephen Citron is published by Hodder and Stoughton (217.95)



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