I Writer's Workshops To tie in with this year's Spinning A Line season. Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre is runningtwo workshops to equip people with some ofthe skills needed to write plays. Chris llannan. who has recently been working for the RSC and the Royal National Theatre. is leading all-day workshops on three consecutive Saturdays from 26 Oct. in which he'll be concentratingon story structure. The price is £311
(£15) for all three days. Then on three Wednesdays from 20 Nov (ts—9pm). Rona Munro. author of Bold Girls and scripts for Dr Who. will lead a workshop concentratingon character. These three cost £311 (£10). Both workshops allow free entry into the public dress rehearsals of two .S'piiiitiiig A Line performances. Places are limited to g fifteen and people
interested should contact Andrew Farrell onll31 . 226 2633 as soon as i possible.
I Brunton Post Robin Peoples. currently director at the Scottish Youth Theatre. has been offered the job of Artistic Director at Brunton‘s Mussclburgh Theatre and is expected to take up the post at the beginningof 1992.
I Royal Lyceum Auction Edinburgh's Royal Lyceum is holding a fund-raising auction in December to help with its renovation programme. It you have anything to donate that someone else might like to buy— paintings. engravings. jewellery - contact Fiona Robertson on 031 229 7-104.
I Dancerdeparture After sixteen years with Scottish Ballet. Vincent llantam is returningto his native South Africa to become a 1 principal dancer of the
NA PAC ballet company. He will make his farewell performance in Aberdeen in January.
IYoung Actors Wanted Edinburgh Young Theatre Company is always on the look out for new members between eight and eighteen years old to act. play an instrument or get involved on the technical side. Contact lan Dewar on (131 3361081.
I Costume hire Edinburgh's Royal Lyceum Theatre Company has a vast stock of theatrical costumes for hire on a daily or weekly basis from their warehouse in Roseburn Street. Details on 031337
48 The List 11 — 24 October 1991
At a time when halfthe world is
rushing to embrace capitalism. the political theatre of Bertolt Brecht is an unexpected flavour of the month. While 7:84 tours with The Resistable Rise (2th rturo Ui. Antony Sher is starring in the same play in London. and The Good Company is bringing a biographical drama. I, Bertolt Brecht. to Edinburgh and Glasgow. Then on a lighter note. Ian Saville. possibly Britain's only Marxist magician. is turning up with his long-running show Brecht on Magic.
1 last saw Saville in the early 80s. those far offdays when the Labour Party had some claim on the left and there was a nasty. big wall in Berlin. I wondered ifthere was still a demand for socialist conjuring in this post-Thatcher era. ‘I haven't been invited to Brighton. as I often used to.‘ admits Saville. referring to the Labour Party Conference. "They're not keen on using the word ‘socialism‘ too much. But the relationship ofpeople to society is pretty similar to what it was ten years ago. I think 1 reflect some ofthe confusions ofour time.‘
Brecht on Magic. which Saville describes as ‘semi-autobiographical in a fantasy sort ofway‘. is a curious and very funny mixture ofcomedy. theatre and magic in which he re-enaets his conversion to Marxism with the help of a ventriloquist‘s dummy. ‘Ten years ago people thought magic was the last place you‘d find socialism,‘ he quips. ‘And they were right; it is the last place you can find socialism.‘
Placing the emphasis on entertainment. Saville hopes that he can also give his audiences something to think about. in much the same way as Brecht once raised questions in his own mind. His routine might sound like a novelty act. but it has its own logic. and if the revolution seems further away than ever. Saville feels he still has a contribution to make. ‘lt‘ll probably come about three days earlier,‘ he guesses with political foresight. (Mark Fisher)
Brecht on Magic. RSA MD. Glasgow, Thurs 24—Sat26 Oct.
llirst saw Pushing Through — described as ‘a music theatre piece about Palestinian and Israeli women‘ — during its brief run at The Arches Theatre, Glasgow in September 1990. Since then, three things have happened to raise my awareness of the issues it addresses. The first was the GulfWar, which, in living Technicolor, slammed the Middle East in general — and the Israeli occupation of Palestine in particular—firmly onto everyone's agenda. The second was getting to know an Arab rather well; and the third was becoming Pushing Through’s stage manager. Call it nepotism iiyou will, but I confess that the second and third items are not unrelated. Performed by an international,
all-female cast of live, with live musical accompaniment, Pushing Through is a sequence of separate but thematically linked scenes, which explore the common ground between two cultures which have learned mutual hatred, fear and distrust at their mothers“ breasts. The central point emerges most strikingly in two parallel scenes, each of which depicts the grief of a young woman whose grandfather is arrested in the middle of the night. The scenes are almost identical, except that one woman is a Jew in Nazi Germany, the other a Palestinian in the Occupied Territories, a comparison
: which raised some controversy among
Jewish-American audience members. Since the war, a new scene has been added, in which Israelis cower in a sealed room, praying for deliverance from Saddam Hussein‘s Scud missiles.
Based in New York, VoiceTheatre is led by Pushing Through’s writer/director Shauna Kanter, an actress and voice teacher of Jewish descent whose approach combines naturalistic dialogue and abstract song, both derived from improvisation, with traditional Jewish and Arabic melodies and original compositions by musicians John LaBarbera and Laura Liben.
Previously performed in Paris, New York, Glasgow and Washington, Pushing Through has overcome an eleventh-hour funding crisis to return to Scotland. I advise you not to miss it. Butthen I’m biased. (Andrew Wardlaw) Pushing Through, Cumbernauld Theatre (Mon 21, Tue 22 Oct) and Theatre Workshop, Edinburgh (Wed 23—Sat 26 Oct).
In ‘Cabaret Macabre' death is inevitable, but not senseless. In fact it is sensual; neither desolate nor negative, stripped of all sentimentality, it is treated instead as a supreme act ofdecadence. ‘Choosing your own death is an aesthetic decision,‘ explains Susie Reid, an actor with recently formed Wildstage. ‘Each character explores different aspects of decadence, but death has the strongest relationship with all of them.‘
Setting the play in Weimar Germany is a suitably extravagant choice, conveying the heady days of the
cabaret— excess and outrage in equal measure. It is a world seen by Wildstage as a facade, giving sanction to thoughts and actions that are taboo on the streets. Reid suggests thatthere are parallels to be drawn. ‘The theatre, as with the cabaret, provides a platform for exploration - it allows us to say things which we wouldn’t otherwise contemplate.‘
Inspiration for Cabaret Macabre has been drawn from teaching methods at the Jaques Lecoq School in Paris, where all the cast trained. ‘We started off with two ideas,’ says Reid. ‘Firstly the artwork of Otto Dix, and secondly an exercise which is intended to tree the actor physically and vocally. It requires us to alter the shape of our bodies, which then affects our movement and speech!
This anti-realist approach is further emphasised by the role of language, which is not used for narrative purposes as much as for atmosphere. Japanese, German, Swedish and English are woven into the performance, so that words become merely sounds with no obvious reference to the action. Susie admits that it has created problems. ‘We wanted people to interpret the language as music, but instead they saw it as a barrier. In the end the audience is here to gain access, to be let in on what we‘re doing, and ultimately that’s what we strive for as well.’ (Aaron Hicklin)
Cabaret Macabre, Theatre Workshop, Edinburgh, Fri 18—Sat 19 October