I CORRECTION Last issue‘s review of Made From Girders was wrongly attributed to Annexe Theatre Company. Chris Ballance‘s play about McGonagall is. of course. given an energetic production by Theatremachine. Apologies to all concerned. I Actors/Producer Wanted Edinburgh‘s Saughtonhall Amateur Dramatic Society is looking for actors and a producer for its November production. Anyone interested should call (031) 337 8801 for further details. I Boyal Lyceum Comeback After a year on the road. Edinburgh‘s Royal Lyceum Company has announced plans for its 1991—92 season back in its newly kitted-out theatre. By the time Oscar Wilde‘s An Ideal Husband opens on 6 Sept, backstage facilities will have been vastly improved and audiences — one of the five largest in Britiain — will benefit from increased foyer, bar and restaurant space. Amongst the season‘s highlights are Trevor Griffiths's Comedians. Roddy McMillan‘s The Bevellers and Tankred Dorst‘s Merlin. A subscriptions can save you up to 40per cent off normal ticket prices — details on 031 229 9697.
V IN PRINT
I The Evil Doors and The Baby Chris Hannan (Nick Hern Books £7.99) Although not officially published until August, this two-play collection has found its way into some local shops to coincide with Winged Horse‘s production of The Evil Doers. As it happens, neither play was given a particularly successful production in Scotland. so it’s good to have the opportunity of reading Hannan‘s taut and witty dialogue first hand. And once again, the availability of the published plays increases the likelihood of future productions. Check it out.
Bird’s eye view
When Alain Platel last brought his extraordinary company, Les Ballets Contemporains de la Belgique, to Glasgow, in the spring ol1990, included in its number was a couple both well over 70. ‘We now have a child aged seven in the new show,’ he laughs, ‘so we are trying out every age.’ Such diversity is typical oi Platel’s
choice at periormer- he chooses them
‘intuitlvely’, rather than for any
Alain Platel leads the birds
technical skills. The tact that the cast oi Sparrows contains two trained dancers Is, he says disarmingly, ‘coincldental’.
Nonetheless, his choreography is detailed and precise. In the programme for Sparrows, he quotes the poet Femand Deligny. Deligny works with autistic children, whose reluctance to speak led him to develop a language at gesture and movement; very personal, yet highly expressive.
Platel senses obvious links with his own work, which is equally centred on the personal languages ol his cast, rather than any received vocabulary. lt’s people-centred. ‘lt’s like a Greek Tragedy,’ he says describing the opening of Sparrows. ‘People are coming together in a certain place, because at a certain Marina. But once you get this inlormation, you can throw it away. What’s important is that these poeple are there, that they decided to stay a little bit longer than they thought they would.’
80 why is it called Sparrows? ‘Because,’ he replies, ‘they’re everywhere, but very rarely do we notice them. But once you see them, try to iollow them, they become lascinatlng. I had the idea that the people who work with Les Ballets are kind oi the same. They are not superstars or dancers or actors, just very ordinary people, but they become very lascinating when they are on stage, because oi their . . .’ he pauses tor a moment, then concludes simply, ‘. . . way at being.’.(Ken Cockburn)
Sparrows, Third Eye Centre, Glasgow, Fri 31—Sat1 Jun.
Last year, a play called The Blasphemer was premiered in Scotland. As a direct result of its success, the artistic team responsible decided to establish their own company- Filth Estate. As iolnt artistic director, Sandy Neilson explained, his vision at Scottish theatre shies away lrom convention.
‘It was extraordinary the number oi people who came to us and expressed their reliel at seeing a real play in terms at new writing,’ says Neilson. ‘So it was obvious that we’d touched a nerve and identified a gap in the market. The bulk ol the new writing in Scotland is being channelled into either socio-political drama or drama based on a kind at nostalgia ol how wonderlul it was to live up closes and share a cludgie. That’s a very vital and important part oi the theatre at any culture, but the balance has swung too much. Writing slightly more dillicult work which is based on a principal ol literary merit is being ignored. We decided that it was time to try to swing the pendulum back.’
Filth Estate’s llrst chart at pendulum swinging comes with a French play by Bernard da Costa, ‘We, Charles Xll’. in spite ol the title (which relers to a Swedish megalomaniac ot the 17th century), Nellson believes that there are universal truths contained in the
play which are oi as much relevance to
Scottish citizens as Scandinavian monarchs.
’We’re not in any way contined to Scottish writers,’ explains Neilson, defending his decision to look abroad lor material. ‘We ieel that there is a tendency to navel-gaze in Scottish theatre and that imposes a parochial theme in the work being done. We should be much more European in our ouﬂook.
‘The play runs lrom Poland to Turkey — it’s got that kind of epic sweep. Bernard’s writing it lrom the contention that however horrifying Charles XII is, he’s the kind at character who keeps coming up in history and not necessarily as a king or ruler. But in a sense the royal “we” oi the title encompasses the commoners as well. We are all Charles XII — it’s that spark in a man which turns him into a Rupert Murdoch, a Maxwell, or even a Saddam Hussein. It’s where the will takes over and becomes such a driving lorce that man becomes almost superhuman.’ (Philip Parr)
We, Charles Xll, Netherbow Theatre, Edinburgh, Tue 4—Sat15Jun.
a. l i be? Eddie lzzard
Just like Eddie
Eddie lzzard languishes in a West London phone-box. frantically trying to talk over the pips. ’Could you call me back? My ten pees are running out?‘ Contact restored, the stand-up whom reliable sources claim is one of the hottest names on the London circuit tells Tom Lappin why we won‘t be seeing him on our tellies in the near future.
‘I have been offered TV work. but I‘m turning it down, just because it‘s rather fun to turn it down. That might sound rather a bizarre reason, but there‘s also almost nobody working in television comedy who seems to know anything about comedy.‘ Hold on Eddie. that seems like a broad sweeping statement. ‘That might seem like a broad sweeping statement, but these people seem to know about the politics of television, but they don’t know how to make stand-up work on television. They can come up with an idea that looks good on paper for commissioning editors, but it doesn‘t work on screen.‘
lzzard will instead be concentrating on honing his live act and developing his creditable policy of regularly changing his material.
‘When I first joined the circuit there was this thing where you would get 20 minutes of material and just do that for a long time,’ he says. ‘I was quite keen to change that because I get bored very easily. There‘s a big fear ofdoing new material, but the more you do it. the more relaxed you get. You end up talking any old rubbish.’
Izzard‘s ’old rubbish‘ inspired the Perrier panel to award him the ‘commended’ prize at last year’s Fringe. He was less than impressed, seeing it as a case of being damned with faint praise. ’They said it was for “young talent". The fact that l was four years older than Sean Hughes, who won, didn‘t seem to register. I called it the benzene award. I don’t think they liked me because we had a bit ofa barney. They send eight truckloads of Perrier people along. and then say they‘re only having four nominations and a sort of commendation. ldon’t think I‘ll be winning this year.’
He doesn’t sound too downhearted aboutn.
Eddie lzzard, Counting House, Edinburgh, Fri3l—Sat 1 Jun.
50The List 31 May— 13June 1991