46 'l he list 25 September— 8 October 1992
Greenock may not seem the likeliest of locations from which to hotwire a mini-comic renaissance. but since January. Rico's Comedy Church has been running there to capacity crowds, rapidly spawning the Comedy Church Agency whose tendrils are now tickling Glasgow’s soft. fleshy regions with its revitalisation of the Comic Club. The regular Blackfriars club was forced into its current summer hiatus because of the pressure ofother commitments on its administrator Claire MacAulay. Realisingthat time is the best gift you can bestow on the running ofa club. MacAulay willingly handed the reins over to the Comedy Church‘s Gillian O’Hara. who now books the acts and promotes the club which is set to make its return at the start of October.
O’Hara‘s nationwide contacts should yield some popular names and with the prospect of gigs in Glasgow and Greenock. make it more worthwhile for southern comics to make the trip northwards. lt’s not a throbbing cabaret network yet, but at least things are getting a push in the right direction.
Given the modest capacity of the Comic Club, there will also be a continued commitment to promote comedy at a grass roots level with spots for aspiring local talent. ‘Most ofthese guys are good at telling jokes in the house or in the pub when they‘re drunk and figure they can have a bash at it on stage and then suddenly they realise it's different,‘ confesses Gillian. ‘At the same time you can get guys that are really serious about it and they will keep coming back until they get it right.
but usually once is enough for most.’ (Fiona Shepherd)
The Comic Club, Glasgow, returns on Sat} Oct, see Cabaret listings.
unm- Zoo story
Alterthe mixed publicitythat the Edinburgh-based Grassmarket Project has received lately-with some claiming that the company’s plays about homelessness, youth crime and mental illness are exploitative or downright harmlul to the people involved - it might seem a strange time ; tor anyone else to embark on a similar , project.
Not so, says Esther Welnsteln ol
‘ l lmaginaryZoo,whoisgearing hersell
up lor 29 September, and the lirst oi a
; six-month-long stretch ol workshops
with Glasgow’s young homeless. ‘The
problem of homelessness is worse than it has ever been,’ says Welnstein.
j ‘What Glasgow people are sick at is not
plays about the subject, but seeing kids
begging on the streets and knowing
that nothing is being done to help
Though Welnstein acknowledges the
’ iniluence oi Glad and the other plays,
what she is attempting with lellow
‘ perlormer Katrina Caldwell is ditterent.
For a start, both at them have worked
extensively in community theatre, and their intention is to provide a social service for these youngsters - something the Grassmarket Project never claimed to do. It she manages to raise sulticlent lunds to tour a play, so much the better, but the emphasis is on the workshops themselves. These will
Imginary Zoo In collaboration with the Jammy Girls, McLellan Galleries, 1991
of perlormance skills— mime, l mask-making, percussion, writing -so that it and when the young people do devise a show, it may not be about , homelessness at all. The hope is that the experience will give the participants conlidence, teach them to communicate more etlectively, and to handle social situations- all crucial it they are to cope at job interviews, battle with social security bureaucracy or patch up relations with their lamilles.
A final difference: whereas the Grassmarket Project has targeted middle-class, theatre-going audiences, it Imaginary Zoo does tour, it will be to community centres, unemployed workers centres and art centres in the Glasgow area. In other words, there is no question of the
5 young people being whisked into
another world tor a moment of stardom and then told it is time to leave when
the show is over. (Catherine Fellows)
‘ Imaginary Zoo is still desperately short
ol lunds. For more intormatlon contact
involve prolessional tuition in a variety Esther Weinstein on 041 4291369.
Britain knows how to treat its heroes. Alan Turing, perhaps more than any other single person, was responsible lor Britain winning the Second World War. He cracked the German Enigma code, thereby giving the Allies invaluable breathing space to repulse attacks and plan counter-ottensives. In the post-war years, Turing turned his hand to computers and developed Britain‘s lirst. You probably will not have heard of him, though, because while he was a grade one hero, he was also gay, ostracised, convicted ol gross indecency, injected with lemale hormones to ‘correct' him, and eventually driven to suicide at the age at 43.
Playwright Hugh Whitemore adapted the story at Turing’s lile lor the stage in Breaking The Code, and through a series at tlashbacks, the audience sees the triumphs and disasters at this extraordinary man’s Iile. Derek Jacobi has already played the part on the West End and Broadway, and continues in the role on the current tour.
‘Iiugh Whitemore put a lot about computers in the play and my brain doesn'tworkthatway, so, initially, it was difficult to learn,’ admits Jacobi. ‘But it’s a very humane play in that it
although it’s about one at lile’s victims, it never gets sentimental because Turing was never senltmental about himsell.’
‘There are two strands to the play— mathematics and homosexuality,’ continues Jacobi. ‘Well,
, homosexuality might be deemed box ‘ oltice, but mathematics certainly isn’t. But, in tact, we discovered that it was
the mathematical side of it that intrigued audiences ratherthan the gay side. Theatre audiences are, i suppose, very used to seeing gay issues on stage, but to lace an evening oi somebody who is besotted by, loves, is passionate about, mathematics is a little more unusual. And we lound that while nobody understands every word he says about computers, that doesn't really matter because when he talks about it you realise it’s his passion and that is really Iascinating.’ (Philip Parr).
Breaking The Code, King’s Theatre,
i appeals to the heart and the head. And i Edinburgh. M0" 23 SEN-33' 3 00l-
been playing munitions mogul Andrew Undershaft in George Bernard Shaw’s Major Barbara at the Citizens’ Theatre. By day, he‘s been rehearsing for the latest revival of his own tribute to war poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon which, thanks to the persuasive powers of theatre supremo Giles Havergal, he’s ended up directing and designing to boot.
Since it was written in 1982, with the Falklands War still raging, Not About Heroes has been produced on television, radio. at the National Theatre and throughout the English-speaking world. A committed pacifist, MacDonald sees the play, which concentrates on the relationship between Owen and Sassoon from their first meeting at Craiglockhart. as a necessary reminder of the ugliness of war. The current international political climate, he argues, makes his message as relevant now as ever. And returning to the play ten years on, particularly now he is directing it for the first time, he still finds it invigorating. ’Because I’m thinking ofthe whole thing I’m able to think in terms of images. which is the way I wrote it.‘ he explains.
As a director, MacDonald has learnt from previous productions, notably one in Helsinki which. despite the German helmets, made him realise that the play could work in a non-realistic style. He‘s also
. learnt something of the play’s
emotional power. ‘One production was in Johannesburg about five years ago,’ he says, ‘It was well before Mandela was released. It was when the necklace assassinations were happening and the police were weighing in with guns and tear gas. They just wanted something that said it’s a rotten way of solving anything. Apparently they had very good houses who all went away crying. I’d rather they cried over a play than tear gas. If it meant sparing one guy in Johannesburg who’d have been beaten over the head ifhe’d gone home, or that the policeman had put his truncheon away, then it makes the play really worth doing.’ (Mark Fisher)
NotAbout Heroes, Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow, Thurs 8 Oct—Sun 1 Nov.