ITramway Update .‘vfaintenance work is being given priority at (ilasgow‘s large-scale performance space. 'l‘ramway. although it will open during May fest and the (ilasgow Jazz Festival. ()therwise we'll have to wait until September for the venue to reopen on a full-time basis by which time a new staff structure will has e been ptit into place
I Excellence Award Bots Palmer and Neil Wallace are the worthy recipients ofthe 19‘)! Award for lixccllence in International’l’heatre for their role in programming the events in ( ilasgow last year. ’l‘hey 'll be presented with the award on \Ved 2" March by the International 'l'heatrc lnstitute. l’act freaks may care to know that that day is also World 'l‘hcatre Day. so be sure and do something dramatic.
I Beds, Radicals and Reformers Scotland has a healthy showing at a series of talks in Belfast organised by the Irish (‘ongressof'l‘rade l'nions. (’hristine Hamilton. Arts officer at the S'l‘l'C hasalready spoken about the collaboration oftrade unions and arts organisations. and this weekend ( Hi 22 and Sun 2-1). playwright John Mc(irath will be talking about working-class drama.
V IN PRINT
I Long Day‘sJourneylnto nghl Iiugene()'.\'eill (Jonathan (‘ape £5.95) and Mourning Becomes Electra liugene()'.\Jcill (Jonathan (‘ape U195). By coincidence. these plays are both appearing in (ilasgow in the next few weeks at the 'l‘heatre Royal and the (‘itizens respectively. ()‘Neill's speechifying style makes his scripts an easier read than many. although I‘d advise skipping most of his stage directions which tend to be pedantic andto slow the reader down, The plots. full ofheightened emotion. are compelling in their weighty themesof familial dissent and. coupled with their length the trilogy of Mounting Becomes [flecrru reaches 288 pages -— make for absorbing. almost novelistic reading.
To celebrate 60 years of amateur performances on the Edinburgh stage, the Edinburgh Civil Service Dramatic Society is rising to the challenge of Anton Chekhov‘s Russian classic The
Cherry Orchard, enlisting the support of
professional directorJoe Casciani, who himself reaches 60 this year. The company, which once included Ronnie Corbett amongst its ranks, is making a special jubilee effort with an exhibition of behind-the-scenes photographs, a performing dog and a real-life backstage wedding.
‘lt‘s a play of tremendous rhythm, texture and ensemble playing,’ says Casciani aboutThe Cherry Orchard. ‘lt's not a play of stars. In Chekhov, it‘s very important that everybody pays their dues. lwantto make sure that it‘s not played as tragedy, but as comedy as he suggested. It's about ordinary people and it‘s essentially optimistic, not depressing. It‘s not belly laughter, butthere‘s a tremendous amount of fun.‘
Edinburgh Civil Serv The Cherry Orchard
ice Dramatic Societyin
Having seen and been impressed by several of ECSDS‘s productions. Casciani was keen to exploit its talents in a play that until now he has taken only as far as the workshop stage. ‘Chekhov never lets you stay too long with high negative emotions,‘ he says, ‘there‘s always an undercutting line that will bring us down to earth. You couldn‘t go on loreverworrying about those people having to sell their estate and the cherry orchard and all the tears. lfyou look atthe play, you find that no sadness continues for more than a few minutes and then he comes in with something that‘s really quite
trivial. lthinkthat‘s the skill olthe guy.‘
The Cherry Orchard is at the Church Hill Theatre, Edinburgh, Wed 27—Sat 30 Mar.
‘There's a parallel betweenthis company being set up and the sullragette movement,‘ says Paul Toy about Birds of Paradise Theatre Company, established underthe umbrella ofthe innovative Fablevision Theatre Company in order to promote the interests of disabled performers like Toy himself. ‘Women first came togetherand foughtfortheir rights in the 191 Us and it‘s only now that they‘re beginning to break essential barriers and are being seen as people rather than females. Maybe in anotherfifteen years (buthopeiully sooner) disabled people will be seen in the same way as otherperformers.’
The company‘s artistic director, Michael Duke, gives a vivid insight into the problems which Birds of Paradise are lacing. ‘There‘s no similar company in the history of Scottish theatre,‘ he says. ‘But there‘s a huge number of barriers. When we were setting up the company, contacting the theatresto see whattheirdisabled access was like, their answers fall into a pattern of “we‘ve got a loo downstairs and a thing you plug in your ear lorthose with restricted hearing.“ When we ask about access to the changing rooms, the stage orthe lighting box, they are stunned. A look comes acrosstheirfaces saying. “I knew this would happen once we let them into the theatre, they‘ll want to get onto the bloody stage and perform." The status quo is going to have to change.‘
The company‘sfirst play is Dougal Graham by Tom Lannon, the story of ‘a lame, humphie-backitt, bandie-Ieggit‘ poet who travelled with Bonny Prince
48 The List 23 .‘slarch * 4 April 1991
Tommy Cannon as DoualGraham - -.
Charlie duringtheJacobite Rebellion. In keeping with thetradition established by Fablevision. lighting. sound and mime play a large part: there are over 25 speaking parts. but few actors will have more than a paragrapholdialogue.
Tom Lannon leelsthatthe mannerin whichthe Birds of Paradise projectwill operate can do more than simply open the eyes oiblinkeredtheatre companies. ‘A vital thing is confidence-building and lamiliarisation ofpeoplewho‘ve previously been excludedirom theatre,‘ he says. ‘They need this engine-roomto equipthem withthe repertoire, the skill. the nuts and bolts olgetting acquainted withtheatrical skills. You‘ve got to start with this sort of sensitivity. If you go into the mainstream, raw, straight off the street, you‘ll have such a hard time.‘
While a sheltered environment is deemed essential, those involved with the project are determined that the performers must stand ontheirmerits. ‘We mustspendthefirstlew years,‘ says Michael Duke, ‘getting taken seriously on the basis of an artistic as well asa political manifesto. Eventually, actors will become known bytheirname, face, ability and performance and notbytheir disability.‘ (Philip Parr)
Dougal Graham is atthe RSAMD, Glasgow. Tue 26—Fri 29 Mar.
ll l\ BARR
THEATRE 49 CABARET 50 DANCE 50
_ NEW PL
h». Jan Knightly in Inferno
‘I want people to come along and see this play with the satne attitude of mind as if they were seeing a dance piece C says writer l.ance l’lynn. ‘You‘re not looking for a story. you‘re looking for images or a line of emotion.‘
l-‘lynn is working for a second time with l-Idinburgh‘s Mandela ’l‘heatre (‘ompany after the relentless pummelling oflast years The Dorm. based on the writer‘s direct experience of a juvenile detention centre. Keeping much of the high energy aggression ofthat pr. )duction. his new play Inferno taltes us on a journey through the junk culture ofcontemporary society from the point of view of an unborn baby. lnspired less by Dante's poem than by the mood of Strindberg‘s Inferno an intense. semi-fictional account of the Swedish playwright's mental illness? l’lynn's play fuses elements of video culture. horror film and nightmarish fantasy.
‘lt's not a pleasant play.” admits l‘lynn. a recent graduate ofthe BBC 'l‘raverse linter Scheme. ‘Most of it was written overnight. The Dorm was written when there was a lot of people round the flat and those franticconditions helped with the writing. With Inferno. sitting up overnight with no radio. no television. no phone ringing. very spooky sounds coming from the kitchen. that added to the grotesque feel ofli.‘
Declaring an interest in the darker
side of life. Flynn has a particularly
bleak vision of the human condition. ‘lt's about a bahy"s right to choose.‘ he explains. ‘l'm not taking an anti-abortion stance. I‘m leaving it open. If a woman‘s got a right to choose — which I‘m certain she
should have — then has the baby not got a right to choose'.’ lfyou‘re not
going to have an abortion. do you know that your baby wants to be born'." (Mark Fisher)
Inferno. Traverse Theatre. Edinburgh Him/2.35101 3/ Mar; I‘mn 'l'lieuire. (i/asgmc. 'l'tleZ—Stm 7 .-ipr. (lien on (our.
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