John McKay. several years after the dissolution of Scotland‘s favourites - The Merry Mac Fun Co, is back as ﬂavour ofthe month. His new radio show, A esthete’s Foot (see Radio section) starts later this month and his newTV show, My Dead Dad begins in June. Prior to this broadcast activity, however. McKay returns to the stage to premier his new play. Me Myselst.
The main character is a certain Phil Ficlding— a writer of no small talent and no large bank balance. having already spent the huge advance for his ﬁrst novel. One week to publisher‘s deadline and Phil suffers a writer‘s block so intense that it creates a supporting character— Phil Fielding. Yes, our author splits in two; one half creative genius and the other dependable, sensible and direly dull.
‘I guess it‘s really a play that‘s as fast as a comedy show,‘ says McKay. ‘lt‘s not a serious play about philosophical issues — it‘s got some serious aspects in there, but basically I wanted to produce as fast and punchy a satire on the writer-as-artist figure as I could.‘
McKay plays Phil 1. boring and reliable, while one half of Victorand Barry. Forbes Masson. is the creative. but exasperating Phil 1]. ‘A big part of what I wanted to do was to take the piss out of the suffering writer in the garret,‘ says McKay. ‘Writers like to think they’re so special, that they‘re really handed down a gift from God and therefore they‘re outside
normal morality or codes of politeness, and they‘re just not. They‘re especially just not because they‘re so lazy. But asthc play shows, the creative side is the interesting and charming part — the side that‘s worth watching.‘ (Philip Parr) Me Myself Us, Arches Theatre, Glasgow, Tue lZ—Sun17May.
V NEW PLAY
8The List 8-21 May 1992
= Got show, called simply Patagonia.
‘Patagonia is the subject ot a lot oi debate in Wales at the moment,’ i
according to Mike Pearson, director oi i 5
Welsh theatre group Brith Got. ‘People . are saying, well, since nobody there i speaks Welsh any more, then we I shouldn‘t bother even looking at that , situation any more.’ As Nova Scotia is to Scotland, so Patagonia is to Wales - sort oi. The site oi much 19th century Welsh emigration, its climate is hot, while the surrounding language, and temperament, are Spanish. Odd cultural tusions result: ‘Parrots ily over the chapel', and ‘People sing hymns and dance the paso doble', according to the programme torthe latest Brith
When they visited this part at southern Argentina in 1986, they were the tlrst British theatre company to perform in that country since the Maivinas contlict. They amassed a lot oi material, much oi it in Patagonian Welsh, despite scepticism in the homeland. Some oi this went into a TV programme made immediately on their return. But their recent development at sophisticated sound techniques has now allowed them to incorporate
recordings directly into a periormance. ‘We're able to actually include voices irom Patagonia per se,’ says Pearson. ‘People can speak ior themselves.‘ Although Patagonia is touring to conventional theatres, it reiiects Brith Gol’s lilting ior unconventional theatre toms, and includes ‘silent movie acting’ (the piece’s climax is set in
, 1909). it comprises a series oi
alternating ‘events‘ and ‘states’. ‘We wanted to provide some sort oi narrative thread, however simple,’ explains Pearson, ‘and this is canted in the “events”. They’re only a minute long, and they’re scattered throughout the pertormance. What that then allows us to do within the “states” is use material at many dltterent kinds.’
So, expect the unexpected. Did someone mention Butch Cassldy? (Ken Cockburn)
Patagonia, Tramway, Glasgow, Sat 9—Sun 10 May.
Ripe for the
For the indigenous peoples oi the Americas, being ‘discovered’ by Columbus is not something they teel like celebrating 500 years later. The Nicaraguan theatre company Nixtayoiero has come to Europe this year to remind us that its civilisation did not begin or end in 1492.
The company’s work took root and tlowered through the years oi the Sandinista revolution and civil war, but was always brave enough to criticise even the movement in which many ot the players were trout-line lighters. Taking theatre to the people had a particular resonance In Nicaragua when risking booby traps and ambush.
While the pain at the past 500 years underlies much at the company’s work, it is always communicated in the most direct and unpretentious way, with a
vitality and sense at tun not often associated with political theatre. You may distrust that luvvy-talk about theatre transcending language barriers but, in Popol Vuh, based on the Silo-year old Mayan book oi guidance, Teatro Nixtayoiero manages to do it, with help irom mirrors, lire, earth, water, dance, mime and the lniectious rhythms oi the accompanying tour-piece band.
0n the same bill, and alter Nixtayoiero, the legendary Peruvian musician Jaime Guardia sings and plays the small guitar-like charango alone and with guest musicians. Abya Yala (the tour's title) is the name given to their land by the indigenous Kuna people at Panama -thelr horizons stretch irom Tierra del Fuego to Alaska. Alter 500 years, the name is being used again by the people oi Latin America as part oi an attempt to reclaim their history and reassert their bellets.
It’s good to see that Oxiam is funding the tour as part at its 50th anniversary ‘to give a plationn to the people at the countries ot the South’. (Toby Follett) Abya Yala ‘The Land in Full Blpeness, Tramway, Glasgow, Fri 15‘Sat 16 May.
V NEW PLAY
‘ '9_' R‘ . While Dorothy guessed that she wasn’t in Kansas any more, she never dreamed that she‘d end up in Kilsyth. But that’s the setting for a new twist on the Wizard of 02 story from Clyde Unity Theatre. Writer/ director John Binnie has not only shifted the action to the west coast of Scotland, he‘s also brought in some ofthe elements which, over the past 50 years, have become inextricably linked to the story.
‘There was no point in doing a straight adaptation,‘ says Binnie, ‘because the film is so perfect. I wanted to do something about how Hollywood influences our perceptions, so the play’s about a girl growing up in Kilsyth and on Christmas Day being sucked into her telly. Then she lands on the film set and Judy Garland starts raging that this wee Scottish girl is upstaging her. It’s also about an orphan coming to terms with loss. It‘s a story that’s universal and pertinent to today, when you have a very grey recession. You think “Is there a place actually over that rainbow, where there is something that’s wonderful and magical?" ’
MacWizard Fae Oz introduces other original touches, such as making the cowardly lion a gay vegetarian, and features original songs by Binnie and Lorna Brooks. Not content with this level of toil, Binnie has also contributed a playlet to 7284’s new production, Scotland Matters, along with Iain Heggie, Ann Marie di Mambro, Rona Munro and Gurmeet Mattu. The plan was to give each writer a title and then a free hand to come up with a tale relating to life in Scotland. Binnie’s title was The Sexuality of the Scottish Man , but in typically open fashion, the writer has called the piece A way With the Fairies.
‘Rather than just having two guys sitting at a table talking about sex, I wanted to tell a story,‘ says Binnie, ‘so it‘s about two boys who meet while watching Death in Venice and fall in love. It’s a celebration of falling in love but there are similarities with MacWizard because again it‘s about how Hollywood inﬂuences all of our lives.‘ (Phil Parr) MacWizard Fae 02, Old Athenaeum, Glasgow, Mon I8-Sat 23 May.
Scotland Matters, Old Athenaeum, Glasgow, Tue IZ—Sat 16 May, and on tour.