Miner romance

6 E a

Getting a head-start on Glasgay. Glasgow‘s imminent festival of gay culture, 7:84 is premiering Jackie Kay‘s Twilight Shift, a play about male homosexuality in a small Scottish mining village. Still best known as a poet in her native Scotland though she regards herselfequally as a playwright, Kay draws both on her personal experience and on the stories of her coal-mining grandfather for this tale about a clandestine affair between a miner and a barber. Devloped from a poem in her award-winning The Adpnptian Papers, Tii'ilight Shift continues Kay‘s interest in the perspective of gay men.

‘Quite a few of my poems are in the voices of gay men.‘ she says, ‘I find it quite easy to do. The experience of being an outsider or looked down upon is part of my own experience, so ljust translate things. I have written about gay female experience. but you can't keep writing about the same thing. In this particular case. I was interested in writing about a miner and a barber; it

what is associated with a macho manly- type job is also in love with another man. l‘m interested in things that turn people‘s expectations round.‘

Kay is sensitive to the way social pressure operates in different ways on men and women. even if in the end it amounts to the same thing. ‘When it comes to being oppressed there's not a lot to choose from,‘ she laughs, pointing out how limited society‘s expectations are. ‘That policeman recently has created a sensation by coming out things like that still make the news because people don‘t expect it.‘ By focusing on a small community, Kay is able to show such peer pressure at its most acute; away from the anonymity of the city, one idle piece of gossip can set a whole village alight. ‘Small communities can throttle you and stifle you,‘ she says. ‘They‘re frightened of difference and you‘re brought up to be wary of it.‘

But as well as the sexual politics. it is appropriate that Kay should be looking to the mining industry at the time of its demise. ‘There are only a couple of mines now open in Scotland.‘ she says. ‘You‘ve got a whole community that‘s dying, losing its identity. There seemed to me to be a parallel between that and a gay man who is not able to claim his identity out of fear of prejudice.‘ (Mark Fisher)

Twilight Shift. on tour from Wed 6 Oct. L___ ._

l l l

she says. ‘You keep a bright face all

Best Stage Actress of the Year Award

: watching people and realising what it


interests me that someone who is doing %

Hound of love

i Continuing its honourable tradition of bringing the best of international

production likely to be seen this year. . Katie Has Been Drowned is performed by seven members of The Mexican

Hound, a Dutch company based on the

Here comes the sun

Mark Fisher talks to Maureen Lipman as she makes her directorial debut at the Royal Lyceum.

lt‘s two weekends before The Sunshine Bays opens and first-time director Maureen Lipman has woken up with a killer of a migraine. ‘All my stress tends to come to a peak at weekends.‘

week long and then Sunday comes and you're wiped.‘

For all that, Lipman is on fine form, her ability to chat hampered not a jot by her pain-killing headache pills. She was drafted in to direct at Edinburgh‘s Royal Lyceum by Artistic Director Kenny lreland and associate henchman Brian Cox. Their choice ofa Neil Simon comedy makes good sense. Lipman has enjoyed considerable success appearing on stage in the comedies of the USA‘s most successful playwright, picking up the Variety Club

for her role in Lost in Yonkers, so why not give her the chance to direct one herself? It‘s not a line of logic that Lipman would have pursued without the encouragement of lreland and Cox but, exhaustion aside, she has been enjoying the experience.

‘1 do like the actual business of

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how it should be paced,‘ she says. ‘l‘m quite familiar with Neil Simon and the New York rhythms, but not everybody is.‘ The Sunshine Boys was first performed in I972 and ran for two years on Broadway. Based in part on real-life vaudeville act Joe Smith and Charlie Dale who performed together from the turn of the century until Dale‘s death in 1973, Simon’s play is about two old-time performers reunited for a TV tribute, only to be reminded of how much they hate each other. The cause of the long-standing feud is almost forgotten; what’s left is a self-destructive argument that is conducted in wisecracks and one-liners. in a shrewd piece of casting, Jimmy Logan is to star as one of the Sunshine Boys, drawing on his career in variety and consolidating his more recent acting successes, notably his Willy Loman in Perth‘s Death of a Salesman. ‘I think it’s enormoust helpful to be an actor and a director.‘ says Lipman. ‘lt's a good thing because you really do

feel pace when you're an actor; you feel your own pace. The director's job is to put your pace together with other people's, to split it all up into beats. If you've two old men doing a big scene where they‘re both drinking tea and they‘re both talking about the past, then it's very difficult for the actors to know where the stops come, where people start again on a new tack and what that new tack is. That‘s something that i can see both as a director and as an actor. ‘l‘m sounding incredibly positive; it‘s not that easy and it‘s incredibly tiring! You don‘t get any time off. i find it‘s a drain on my sense of humour; normally 1 would always use that all the time, but in fact l think probably the real Maureen is coming out! l‘ve run out of jokes. It’s because my mind is in many places at once so it’s quite difficult to just be flip which I would normally be.‘ Reminded of her northern English roots by the friendly welcome she has received in Edinburgh, Lipman remains cautious about whether she will direct again. She has a six-week English tour lined up before Christmas of her Joyce Grenfell tribute, Re: Joyce, and is keen to do more writing, but other than that she is making no commitment. ‘Talk to me again in two weeks‘ time when l’m completely flat out in some derelict hospital in Edinburgh with a twelve- day migraine. I don‘t know . . . you’ll have to ask the others whether l'm any good at it. What l’m good at is communicating, that's my forte. if i do it and I do it well and everybody remembers their lines, then I‘ll do it again, but right now it would be an arrogance to say I‘d found my metier. I haven't found my metier at all, 1 can scarcely find my pen.’ The Sunshine Boys, Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, [—16 Oct.

theatre to Scotland, Tramway has secured the most subtly bizarre

: work of writer/director Alex van

Wannerdam. Standing SOs-ster

kltchon-sink-melodrama on its head

; (complete with scruffy period sets and

Q nonsensical storyline is punctucated ; by a live band which slips in and out i of the wings like a bad drean.

i doesn’t cut a particularly glamorous 3 figure. Yet Katie Has Been Drowned, as i a collection of disparate styles, seems

'7 tastes of its writer. That perhaps, is

' the explanation behind the company’s ultra-avant-garde name, which is a

. Dutch phrase used to describe the

' howling of white noise. It’s the kind of |

48 The List 24 September—7 October I993

Crimplene clothes), a Iurld and

Van Viannerdam himself is clearly the central figure - doubling up as a drummer/guitarist and the character of the weird gardener. For such a multi-talented man (he has also written and directed a couple of award-winning feature films), he

held together not by any obvious structural logic, but by the personal


thing Cocteau would have approved of. And the band plays an expertly

But Katie lias Been Drowned has eclectic range of music - from the little of the mystical surrealism of soulful ballad of the title through existential drarna. It’s more like a some class felt-rock and the odd farcical parody of an early Diana Dors moment of guitar histrionics. rnovle: there’s a blonde teen In a in many ways, Katie Has Been swinging rnlnidress whose burgeoning Drowned is as original a work as sexuality is the main topic of her May has seen. in fact, it defies MOI-holflcm clad miller. or V- normal categorisation, trudging round neck pullover wearing father. that‘s its characters with an endless, when they’re not worrying about the sneaking weirdness. The Mexican 98"" 0' arc-Inc W VIM to '08 ilonnd is about as off-beat as a flying for the upcoming parade. It’s all saucer. Just wait for the gnome dance delivered in rolling Dutch-accented near the end. (Andrew Pulver) English which, fortunately, haproves Katie lias Been Drowned, tramway, rather than detracts from the comedy. Glasgow, 27 Sept-2 Dct.