norm. 9 Stamp of approval

‘A comic and bizarre relationship that shifts to one of mistrust and then rejection‘ is a summary of Grace Mangan‘s solo dance/performance No Water, No Moon to be premiered at The Stamp Collection. a platform for new Scottish dance. This collaboration between Mangan. Run Paint Run (live music) and designer , Lynore Blackbeard shares a bill with In the Picture E inspired by a Cartier-Bresson l photograph. ' choreographed by Fiona Alderman and Catherine l Seymour. I in September 1990 Patricia Eckersley at the Scottish Arts Council invited Nikki Milican and Frank McConnell to discuss opportunities for choreographers. McConnell, best known for A Wee Home From l Home. defined dancers‘ needs: they wanted platforms for new and jointly choreographed. i indigenous work, E mounted across Scotland, and the opportunity to collaborate with other artists. especially composers.

The early stages were fraught with difficulty. particularly regarding money. Promoters were not keen to pay fees and there were problems in initial funding, as if dedicated choreographers didn‘t need money for rehearsal space or dancers‘ wages. There was the on-going lack of I money from the SAC, and j Scottish dancers need to live, so they were often away working elsewhere. Once the platforms began. there was a demand for positive feedback, but the slating that the Feet First platforms got from the press was dreadful, comparing poorly funded, young work with relatively rich and experienced work from England. Should critics be invited at all at this sensitive stage?

Open platforms have been held in Glasgow. Edinburgh and Stirling; apart from Dundee Rep’s latest show, there‘s nowhere else to see such work. The dance is diverse and the quality variable, but it‘s new and Scottish. The Stamp Collection should be fascinating.

(Tamsin Grainger)

Stamp Collection. Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Thurs 21—50! 23 Nov.


No fuss

Hey! Let‘s interview Russ Abbot.

That‘ll be a laugh. Lots oftrans-

é telephone lunacy to brighten up the

theatre page. The man behind the Madhouse roll-call of ‘crazy creations‘ like Basildon Bond, Val Hooligan and Julio Doubleglazius is sure to have a ready way with a

; wicked one-liner.

, Well, no actually. Sitting in his

j Nottingham hotel room in the

, second week of his national tour,

i Russ Abbot comes across as nothing

i more than a normal guy doing a

normal day‘s work; no extravagant claims, no undue defensiveness. just . an ordinary bloke who happens to ; have been voted Funniest Man on Television five years out of seven. Having cornered the market in his own brand of broad character

Buss Abbot

comedy. perhaps his greatest problem is to stay one step ahead of his huge mass audience.

‘You‘re competing with yourself and competing with your last job,' he admits, seeing himselfas the youngest of the old guard of comics like Tommy Cooper and Morecambe and Wise. ‘You think “Cor Blimey, how do we follow that? Where do we go from here?“ That‘s difficult. It‘s the viewers‘ choice as well, they‘re the people who have voted, it‘s not like a panel, most of my awards have been chosen

by the public. They‘re always good to me.‘

After starring roles in everything from TV adverts and pantos to stage plays by Willy Russell and Neil Simon, and with a long career with comedy pop group the Black Abbots behind him, Abbot could happily move in any number of directions. He remains both practical and modest about his comedy, confident enough in his status as Household Name to know he will go down well wherever he plays, and sharp enough to know that he‘s not about to change the world. ‘It‘s mainstream really,‘ he says, ‘slightly alternative in places, but it goes across the board. It really doesn‘t need a lot of thinking about. You don‘t have to analyse it and break it down, so it can cover a wider audience. But when you play Bond, you‘ve got to play him for real, otherwise he‘s not funny and the only way you can get away with stupid humour and the silliness of it all is by believing it. It‘s like in Naked Gun. they believe in what they‘re doing and they take it very seriously.‘ (Mark Fisher)

Russ A bbot's A utumn Madhouse, Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow, Tue

26—Sat30 Nov.

God spake '

unto Angus

Test Dept’s Angus Parquhar is banking on a couple of miracles to get him through the next couple of weeks. It’s not just that his latest multl-media project is attempting to do some kind of justice to 2000 years of Christian worship, it's also that the show is to take place In the hitherto derelict Dowanhill Church in Glasgow’s West End, which is going through an earlier-than-expected reincarnation to become the Cottier Theatre. There’s another two years’ worth oi work needed on the building before it can i open as a full-time venue, but with a little intensive short-term work, it will . emerge for The Soul Machine as the kind of rough and ready ‘iound' space 1 that makes Tramway, Harland and Woolf and Peter Brook’s Booties du Nord so atmospheric.

For Parquhar, The Soul Machine'ls a slgnlilcant move away irom the political concerns that have preoccupied Test Dept for the last decade culminating in last year’s spectacularThe Second Coming, one of the best home-grown productions in Glasgow's Year of Culture. Test Dept doesn’t do things by halves and Farguhar is prepared for the shift to matters spiritual to keep him occupied for anotherten years- he’s already ! hoping to produce The Soul Machine in

Europe. He and co-director Mirek Kocur are astonishingly relaxed about co-ordlnating over fifty local actors and artists, and they're quite content for the show to take shape only in the last two days of rehearsal.

‘lt's such a complicated production,’

The Soul Machine: ‘There’s very little tradition about it.‘

says Kocur, a genial Polish director, taking time out from a sabbatical in a theatrically less-adventurous California to concentrate on the acting in The Soul Machine. ‘lt’s philosophically complicated and technically complicated. You must be very open; the influence of people is incredible and each one brings

something new.’

“There’s very little tradition about it,’ agrees Farguhar who has drawn on a typically diverse range of people, from the lead performer, Anna Shortreid, a

70-year-old with no professional acting

experience, to Father George Dragas who has translated surviving Coptic texts back into the original Ancient Greek. Additionally there is film by Peter McCaughey, slides by Scottish Luminaries and music specially written for voice and the semi-vandallsed church organ (one third of its pipes are

missing) by classical composer Jane Gardner.


Kocur’s contribution is of particular

interest to a show trying to make sense of our religious heritage. Coming from a country where Jesus Christ is viewed as a revolutionary leader, Kocur is used to accepting Catholicism as an important part of the social fabric. All Poles love to argue, he says, although it’s hard to imagine ever falling out with him - a point demonstrated when he and Farquhar started up a bar-room discussion with a Glasgow Orangeman fixed in his belief that the Catholics broke the sacred rules of the Bible. According to Farquhar, Kocur held the bigot spell-bound fora full ten minutes as he detailed the ways in which the Saints and Apostles themselves had reinterpreted and modified ‘the rules’. That he emerged unscathed is testament to his infectious love of ideas and debate - he claims to disagree with Farquhar on principle - and his attitude of constantly changing, challenging and learning will no doubt benefit the performance. ‘lt is a genuine original work,’ says Kocur about the show. ‘Even if Angus uses very classical, ancient texts, it doesn’t mean anything, because we are mixing texts, the musicians are breaking everything, nothing is treated with respect.’ (Mark Fisher)

The Soul Machine, CottierTheatre, 4 Glasgow, Thurs 28 Nov-Sun 9 Dec.



The List 22 November-S Secember 1991 49