I The Mentoring Scheme Glasgow's Tron Theatre is investing in the future of new writing by taking on two trainees— Laura Arundel of Clydebank and Mike Cullen of East Lothian- who will be given support and guidance from theatre professionals over the next year as they develop a short-play idea.
V IN PRINT
I Clnzano Ludmilla Petrushevskaya. translated by Stephen Mulrine (Nick Hern
Books £12.99) An exciting i
collection ifonly because — and theatre companies take note — of its eight plays. only one has been performed in Britain. That was the Tron's excellent 1989 version of Cinzano. starring Forbes Masson. Peter Mullan and Paul Samson, a play which admittedly makes more sense on stage than on the page. Writing in pre-glasnost Moscow, Petrushevskaya makes her points obliquer and while her writing has a universal appeal. it can be difficult for non-Soviets to appreciate the importance of subtextual nuances. Glasgow‘s Stephen Mulrine goes a long way to putting these plays in context in his introduction, however. and this collection should help establish a major. but previously little-known Russian playwright in Britain. (MF)
I First Run 3 Selected by Matthew Lloyd (Nick Hern Books £9.99) Now an annual event. Nick Hern Books‘ collection of new plays reaches volume three with the scripts for live shows ﬁrst seen in 1990. Among them is Rona Munro‘s Bold Girls, which was first produced by 7:84 Scotland and has since been revived in London. As well as an illuminating round-up of new writing by Matthew Lloyd of the llampstead Theatre, who calls on critics to end the unproductive pigeon-holing ofdrama into dated categories, the collection includes Mr Thomas by Kathy Burke. The A wakening by Julian Garner, Sugar Hill Blues by Kevin Hood and lnﬁdelities by Richard Zajdlic. (MF)
l 3 Ward’s eye
I. Americ Connexion in The View
! The View might be many things, but 3 director Gregg Ward certainly knows i what it is not. it’s not Kieslowkski, ' although there is a resemblance to his Short Film About Love, and it’s not Communicado, although the style is remarkably similar. Fundamentally, in fact, it is not American Connexion - at least not as we have known them. The faces may be the same, but in all other respects The View parts ways with the naturalistic traditions with which American Connexion are associated. Out have gone the classics and the real-life situation, replaced by an abstract set, moody jazz numbers, a narrator who interacts with the cast and a story that meanders into fairly new
territory- the control, by society and the sell, over identity. It may sound like a double measure of cod liver oil (‘Close your eyes, hold your nose and swallow') but Connexion has not forsaken a good yarn for smart-alec devices. ‘Ultimately it is a story we are trying to tell’, explains Ward. ‘The music embellshes the script rather than being an inseperable element, and the characters are fully fleshed out, because story is paramount'.
A man stands at his window, his hands caressing his body, while a woman watches from a building opposite, until she too is caught up in the sensual expression. Above this central image we eavesdrop on Maggie and Peter, discussing their mutual attraction in terms that reveal insecurities and sell doubts. Both relationships explore the complex game of power-relations which exhausts and oppresses its players.
‘lt’s not a message play, but the point we try to make is that letting go is a liberating thing’, says Ward, who wrote the story himself, initially as a proiect forfilm treatment. Still nurturing his original plans, Ward has directed the production with television in mind. Even the music can be seen as a potential film score, and the lighting, Ward suggests, evokes an Orson Welles film. But like Kieslowski and Communicado, one thing The View is not, is Orson Welles. (Aaron Hicklin)
The View, Theatre Workshop, Edinburgh, Wed 30 Oct-Sat 2Nov.
It’s been quite a year for Edinburgh’s Fifth Estate.'Formally set up in May alter its debut success with George Rosie’s The Blasphemer, the company now finds itself dealing with three productions simultaneously. Carlucco and the Queen of Hearts is reaping the benefits of an Edinburgh Fringe ' Independent Award with a showcase run in London, Buchan olTweedsmuir is enjoying a tour of the Borders, while The Archive of Countess D prepares to open at the Netherbow Theatre.
Committed to staging new work of high literary merit, the company sees itself as a pressure group to raise awareness of the strength of new writing. ‘Our function is to introduce new work to Scottish theatre,’ says director Sandy Neilson, ‘to say to main houses, “look there are a lot of good plays around, we can find them, we can show them to you and it’s up to you to pick that ball up and run with it”. There is enough material.’
The Archive of Countess D, a timely retreat to pre-Revolutlonary Leningrad, started life as an obscure Russian short story inltially adapted for radio by company founder Alan Sharpe. ‘It was written by Alexis Apukhtine who nobody seems to know much about,’ says Neilson. ‘lt’s a series of letters written to Countess D which she has kept, so obviously there are no letters from her. There are seven major
sistant Director. Jimmy Chisholm
characters and each has a different relationship with her. All these threads are woven into a wonderfully rich tapestry which gives a tremendous feeling of life in St Petersburg atthat time.’
None of the actors interacts on stage, but the performance is given a tension by the characters’ conflicting reports of events and by their treatment of the audience as the Countess. ‘Everyone in the audience will have a very strong idea of what the Countess is,’ says
Jimmy Chisholm, branching out from
acting to be assistant director, ‘although your idea and mine might be totally different. The Countess must have been quite staggering judging by the trust, devotion and love that’s stirred in the letters. She's a fantastic character even though you don’t hear a word from her.’ (Mark Fisher)
The Archive of Countess D, Netherbow Theatre, Edinburgh, Tue 5—Sat 16 Nov.
A man’s world
You’ve got just over a week to learn how to pronounce ‘Featherstonehaughs’, in the meantime, Tamsin Grainger looks ahead to the innovative dance company’s new production.
‘The Big Feature,‘ says Frank Bock. ‘is more like a pop gig with a dozen or so cabaret-style numbers— not like the usual dance show, much more approachable.‘ It‘s the latest street-wise performance by the Featherstonehaughs (pronounced Fanshaws). coming to the Tron Theatre, and according to The Independent, it ‘dares to deal with taboo subjects.’
Though the Featherstonehaugh’s previous show was hailed as ‘one of the most popular events of the 1989-90 season‘ by Time Out and won two awards in 1990, the company has found that Scottish venues have been reluctant to book it. Bock, the Aberdonian founder
46 The List 25 October — 7 November 1991