Fabled lands

Weird but true. In June 1813, 96 refugees from the Highland Clearances set off to Lord Selkirk's settlement at Red River in North America. Fever broke out on the ship and the settlers were dropped off at the wrong point, obliging them to trek inland, endure an artic winter, then set off on a 1000 mile overland journey to the settlement. When they arrived, half starved, they found the North West Company (who felt their fur-trading interests threatened) attempting to wipe out the colony by enciting the local Indians. the Metis, to attack the new settlers. By strange historical coincidence the Metis (a name which comes from the French term for ‘mixed‘) were a distinct ethnic group created by intermarriage between Indian groups and French and Scottish employees of the early fur companies. Elements of French, Scottish and Indian culture became mixed and an oral language

first attacked the Highland settlers and then, once peace was reached. became

the latter half of the 19th century, the newly formed Dominion of Canada began to annexe the Red River lands. The Metis and original white settlers attempted armed opposition but were crushed, to be placed in the official category of ‘non-status aboriginals'. It is this fascinating history which is the subject of A Scottish Reservation a play performed by Glasgow's Fablevision and The Manitoba Prairie Buffan Metis Theatre Company. The collaboration between the two groups

play spans Scotland during the Highland clearances and British North America during colonisation. Part of the educational purpose of the piece is to illustrate the great similarities between the Clan and tribal systems which allowed their fruitful intergration. As the Metis Theatre Company states, ‘We are all Metis, for on the outside and the inside we all have one thing in common, our heartbeat.’

The play will, of course, be touring the Highland and Islands. (Stephen Chester)

A Scottish Reservation, on tour until 5 Nov.

Michif evolved. It was this group which

fully intergrated with them. But then. in

began three years ago, and the resulting


Age of chance

Fiona Shepherd on freaky coincidences or is it the hand of Fate?

Fate couldn‘t have planned it better, not

if She’d held a scimitar to Timely Coincidence’s throat and demanded artistic synchronisation on tap. Firstly, we have two Greek tragedies appearing within weeks of each other at The

and Goethe‘s version of Euripides‘

related? For those not conversant with 5 the chicanery of Greek mythology, Electra and Iphigenia are sisters. wronged offspring of Agamemnon and

Clytaernnestra. Electra is victirnised by

her mother, Iphigenia by her father. Both are noble outcasts. handling their grim lot with steadfast dissent. Both triumph through adversity, if that’s not too much of a truism. Secondly and here’s where the freaky continuity comes into play

pivotal roles in both the productions are

assumed by ex-pop stars. Patricia Reid is artistic director of new company Nighean Ruadh (‘Red Woman') - Electra is its maiden production. In a previous life, Tricia played guitar and

' sang with His Latest Flame. During this

time, the acting experience she had

gained was put on hold. When the band

split in 1990, she reprised her thespian activity. Meanwhile, in the red comer. Sheilagh Hynd is playing Iphigenia for Golden Age Theatre. Alias the brassy. . jewellery-laden Fay Fife, she carved a living fronting fun rock ‘n‘ rollers, The

Iphigenia In Tauris. Perchance they are

Arches Theatre, viz. Sophocles’ Electra I

Sheilagh llynd. aka Fay File, in bhlgenia in Taurus

Rezillos in the late 70s. So, unlike

Tricia, her acting abilities didn‘t exactly

lie dormant during her flirtation with musical stardom. So what has this to do with two prime

slabs of ancient literature? Absolutely

nothing, but lesser connections have provoked ’would-you-credit-it‘?‘-style

letters to The Sunday Post.

‘Before doing the play I had to research a bit,‘ say Hynd. ‘The thing that's fascinating about Greek myths is that anything can happen in them and

; that’s why, of course, they‘re really i handy for Freudian analysis, because

there's nothing inhibited. You‘re unbounded by what you think is right or politically correct and you can dive

into the tnuck and mud.‘

Ironically, this makes Greek tragedy

one of the purest theatrical genres. Reid '

is frustrated by the way so much

; modern theatre is fettered by social

trappings and the desire to mirror the ordinary. ‘The idea of the fourth wall where the audience aren't actually

Patricia field In her rock ’n' roll days

asked to partake in it if you're going to ignore the audience you might as well be in the cinema because it‘s a thing cinema and television can do better. It’s like gigs being different from records you want the spectacle and you want the sweatiness and you want the feeling that you're part of it.‘ Greek tragedy is more than a theatre of words and steadily increasing piles of corpses it's a theatre of emotion, so there‘s little need for sweeteners to help engage the audience. ‘I want to avoid giving plays like this : a definite place in time so the audience 5 can “relate” to it,‘ asserts Reid. ! ‘People understand anyway. You tell I any child a story beginning “once upon I a time“ and they understand it’s not I l l

now, it's the world that stories exist in.’ Electra. The Arches. Glasgow. Mon

I 1 —Sat 16 Oct.

Iphigenia in Tauris, on (our Tue 12 Oct—Sat 6 Nov.


, The burning Iwest

When the recent riots broke out In llewcastle-Ilpon-Tyne, the police

1 called a press conference and

i explained that such violence had to be

I seen In ‘the context of an average weekend’. Taking without owners consent, arson and gangsterism were all part of the traditional Tyneside weekend it appeared, although the press remained sceptical that riot squads were always employed to curb the Friday night exuberance of the urbanly deprived.

lied Wooden’s play, Your Home in the West, is set among the housing estates which suffered most during the riots - the title’s a black pun, referring not to the optimistic future of a mythical ‘West’, but rather to the i West End of Newcastle, an area famed

i for Its post-industrial poverty, the high

3 level of its endemic crime and the

: hardness of its hard men.

{ “There's only three ways you can get 3 out of this place,’ claims one of

; Wooden’s characters, ‘you either kick i a ball around a daft bit of grass or you

i make a fucking pop record. Or you do

what I do.’

‘ile’s a professional criminal,’ explains the author. ‘And it’s a situation true in parts of Glasgow, liverpool, Chicago, Detroit - it’s true of a lot of industrial cities. I think the play has a special chord there, where people have a very similar attitude to violence and humour. it’s an outlet to frustration, and there’s a bite to the wit and the way people use language. There’s an almost coded language to the dialect.’

The play explores the explosive tensions within a working- class/criminal family and ‘what happens when blood is not allowed to fiow’. The result is a visceral, bludgeonlng drama which comes to Glasgow’s Tron trailing golden reviews and several warnings: ‘This is not for the faint hearted’ . . . “Some of the most frightening and dominating theatre l have ever seen’ . . . ‘A slnewy and uncomfortable play’.

It might have frightened and discomforted the judges of the 1990 Mobil Playwritlng Competition, but they still gave it first prize. The 1992 John Whiting Award conflnned Wooden’s position in playwriting’s first division, and he is now working with Communicado’s Corry Mulgrew on an BSC production of Moby Dick, while his new play, Smoke, is set to open in llovember.

Your Home In the West: ‘a rollercoaster of a ultr’

Wooden is aware of the show’s power, but is modest about the trajectory of his writing star. ‘lt’s a rollercoaster of a play. I don’t think I’ll ever write anything like it again - it was exhausting to write, it’s exhausting to act in, to direct, and without wanting to put people off, It’s exhausting to watch.’ (Stephen Chester)

Your Home in the West, Tron Theatre,

Glasgow, Tue 19-Sun 24 Oct.

48 The List 8—21 October 1993