V NEW PLAY
J! VI ‘» Shakespearian romance in Shared Experience’s SweetSessions
Less than two months after visiting Glasgow with The Closing Number. a wordless romantic drama devised by Yugoslav director Mladen Materic, Shared Experience Theatre is back with another new work, this time based on the sonnets of William Shakespeare. Co-devised by Artistic Director Nancy Meckler and writer Paul Godfrey. Sweet Sessions is a performance piece which places a modern-day character at the heart of the Bard‘s poetic romance. Using about 30 from a possible 154 sonnets. with additional modern verse by Godfrey. the show takes us on an Alice In Wonderland-style journey through the emotional triangle set up between Shakespeare. the Dark Lady and the young man.
The play is taking place in the country ofthe mind. rather than a real place.‘ explains Meckler who has been at the helm ofShared Experience, a company committed to the central importance of the actor. since 1987. The non-specific setting allows for a fantastical design and for a well-integrated use of original, live music. ‘We decided that the Dark Lady should be a singer.‘ she says. ‘The sonnets are amazing when they‘re set to music, because you can take them in more easily. The music is based on Elizabethan music. but it‘s not Elizabethan; it‘s a modern response to it.‘
. Despite being inspired by the innovative rehearsal techniques of Mladen Materic, whose Tattoo was a hit at a recent Edinburgh Fringe, Meckler doesn‘t believe that the influence is easily recognisable from the production. ‘The connection is probably more in working method,‘ she says. hailing Materic as a genius. ’the way you get people to physicalise their emotions. What‘s exciting about this is that visually, it‘s as strong as it is verbally. If you didn’t understand English. you could still really enjoy it. We wanted to create a world that was full of very strong emotions, that was sometimes funny, sometimes dangerous, that had dazzling visual imagery and rather extraordinary music.‘ (Mark Fisher)
Sweet Sessions, Old Athenaeum Theatre, Glasgow, Tue lé—Sat20 Apr.
THEATRE 51 CABARET 53 DANCE 54
‘If we had an idea for a scene that was going to be about dancing or going to the cinema,’ says Alan Spence about the updated revival by Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre Company of his play Changed Days, ‘then we could just go and ask the folk who went in the 305. And once you get them talking, there’s no stopping them.’
Spence and director, John Carnegie, spent four months with the best of all source material, the people themselves, and mounds of transcripts of oral history, in orderto piece together the lifestyle of Edinburgh’s High Street inhabitants. There were several surprises in store for the writer, as he explains.
‘Coming from Glasgow, I could be forgiven for thinking that there was no such thing as an Edinburgh working class. But I very quickly discovered that there was a very rich, thriving community right on my doorstep in the High Street (Spence has been a naturalised East coaster for several years), which I’d always thought of as a
Changed Days spans half a century from 30s poverty to 80s yuppiedom and the ‘Disneytication’ of the High Street. As with his best known play, The
Sailmaker, Spence stresses the continued relevance of religion throughout this period. Although brought up in an Orange atmosphere, Spence has gravitated away from the bigotry of his upbringing and now runs a meditation centre with his wife. The training and discipline of meditation has, believes Spence, helped him with his writing.
‘At readings people will come up to me afterwards and say, “that’s exactly what happened to me". Then they’ll tell me this story which bears very little relation to what I’ve been talking about. But somehow I’ve triggered something off and opened up a part of them that they’d forgotten. That’s an important function of my work— to open people up to what’s in themselves: the meaning, value and richnesss of their own lives. Every life is rich . . . in potential at least.’ (Philip Parr)
Changed Days tours Edinburgh, Thurs 11 Apr—Sat 11 May. See Touring.
Frankie goes to
Liz Carruthers makes her mark in Cumbernauld
Frankie and Johnny in the Clair De Lune starts with a bang — or rather a bank. In the opening sequence, two employees of a New York City greasy spoon diner have it off with unusual abandon, before spending the rest of the play in various states of undress while working out love American style. It’s certainly not the usual fare for Cumbernauld
audiences who, under the wing of former artistic director Robert Robson (now head of Mayfest), have been steeped in clever domestic comedies featuring unemployed fathers and cheekyteenagers.
But the new artistic head, Liz Carruthers, has decided to take the
dramatic bull by the horns and
challenge Cumbernauld’s audience to a riskier brand of theatre in the hope of building on Robson’s previous success. ‘Dh, I expect there’ll be quite a few raised eyebrows during Frankie and Johnny,’ says Carruthers, ‘but that’s fine by me. lthink Cumbernauld’s audiences are ready for anything.’
They might be, but some aspects of the play could prove too much for a few timid souls. In that case, Carruthers believes she has two aces in the hole which should pay off nicely at the box office: well known performers, Terry Neason of Wildcat fame, and Benny Young who recently featured in Speed The Plow at the Arches Theatre, Glasgow.
’lt’s just heaven to have a great cast and a great script,‘ says Carruthers, an Edinburgher who made herway to Cumbernauld via Perth Rep, the Orange Tree Theatre, The Traverse, Pitlochry and the Chichester Festival. ‘A lot of my directing experience is with new, unproven plays, which can be quite a harrowing experience to say the least. But Frankie And Johnny has it all. It’s a well written love story which is sexy, risque, working-class and definitely not arty.’ (Gregg Ward)
Frankie And Johnnie in the Clare De Lune is at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Tue 9-Sun 14 Apr and Cumbernauld Theatre, Thurs 18—Sat 20 Apr.
I Campus 91 Now entering its third year. the holiday company that describes itself as ‘the family-friendly Edinburgh Festival' is taking bookings for Fri 26 July—Mon 5 August. Based in Devon. the campsite holiday company lays on music. workshops. breakfast and babysitting at around £ I 5 per person per day. Lined tip to perform at this year's event are many companies including Trestle. Jonathan Kay. Ian Saville and the living Lindy l Ioppers. Previous years have proved so successful that this year is already 75 percent booked up. For more details call Mike orludy on ()54 882 388.
I Mayfest This year‘s Mayfest runs from Wed 3—Sat 25 May and programmes are now widely available. 'I‘heljst will be carryinga complete listing and complement ofpreviews in its issues of 2 and lo May. Representing Scotland are some ofour top companies including 7:84. The Traverse. Communicado, (‘lyde Unity and The Tron. while other companies have been selected from towns of a similar size and culture to (ilasgow from around the world including Belfast. Dublin and Chicago.
V IN PRINT JIM CARTWRIGIIT
.‘ ‘35 ITO Jim (‘artwright (Methueni-l.‘)‘)) Bedlim Cartwright (Methuen £4.99). Two of the slimmest volumes you‘re
shelves (Bed barely stretches to 30 pages), (‘artwright‘s recent plays could make a suitable companion on a particularly short train journey (say Waverley to
concerns seven elderly people who share the
same massive bed in which
to dream and was seen two years ago at the National
Theatre. You might have
seen To when it playedori
the Edinburgh Fringe a couple of years ago starring limo/(side‘s Sue Johnstone and John McArdle. Witty surrealism.
The List 5 — 18 April 199149