With hospital overcrowding being the beast it is, imagine what might happen if an llllS patient landed up in a ward beside a private patient. Even worse, what if they accidentally discovered they both required the same donor organ? This forms the basis of Bob Adams’s Coming Apart, about to be toured around grassroots venues as well as larger theatres by new writing champions Annexe.
‘l’d been in hospital myself,’ says Adams, ‘and became disillusioned with the state of hospitals and the way services are going. So l’ve tried to use this as an account of the state of Britain, and how the class divide still causes so many of Britain’s problems.’
Something of a late starter - this is his first play to be professionally produced - Adams has been writing full time for live years, beginning with detective stories before a preference for dialogue developed his interest in drama. last year a play was produced in coniunction with the Edinburgh Science Festival, by which time Coming Apart had been submitted to Annexe and was already some way through the extensive development programme the company is noted for. The play has since undergone extensive rewriting, and for director Paula Macgee it wasn’t lust the script, but Adams’s personality which interested her.
“Annexe has always been about developing writers, rather than iust picking up a script and doing it,’ she says, ‘and the production end of things is the part new writers know least about. But Bob’s come on on board and taken a very valuable part In proceedings.’
This collaborative approach almost seems to have worked its way into the heart of the play, as the two men find common ground after their initial clashes. ‘llesplte all the divisions,’ says Adams, ‘when the chips are down we still need each other, and that’s what I try to encapsulate in the play.’ (llell cooper)
Corning Apart, Cottier Theatre, Glasgow, 23-25 Feb, then touring.
THEATRE - NEW PLAY
. Riot acts
Neil COOper talks to the Latin—American author of a New York nightmare about to hit the Traverse.
In the City there are eight million stories. Whether they have a happy ending or not is a different matter. Jose Rivera's Marisol tells of a young Puerto Rican woman living in the Bronx who is visited by her guardian angel after being attacked on the subway. Around her things seem to be falling apart. as Rivera's language cascades over a sea of lost souls. passing from misfit to misfit like a Lou Reed song torn apart by Kathy Aeker
; then filmed by Wim Wenders.
‘I find it curious how angels have now become a pop 3 reference point and that i people without a Catholic i belief are starting to i believe in them.’
The bizarre goings-on might give the i impression that Marisol should be filed ‘ under surreal. but things aren‘t as i unlikely as they sound. ‘In the early 80s 3 when AIDS and crack were devastating : the neigbourhood it felt like there was a tidal wave rushing over us which we ’ couldn't get away from.‘ says Rivera. who watched the Bronx deteriorate ' while living there. ‘()ne summer several homeless men were set on ﬁre by a gang of skinheads. l was attacked
nam— Gzech mates
Six years between debut production and follow-up is a long time, but Citram Theatre Company is now in a position to look into the future. Famed round the nucleus of director Ronnie McCann (currently to be seen playing Tommy in the Citizens’ Theatre’s new production of Trainspotting), writer Chris Dolan, whose credits include penning episodes of Take The High Road, and musician lan Bustard, who provides the device of specially-composed music to underscore the action, the company describes its remit as ‘Iive music, visual arts and good storytelling with a subtext.’
The trio’s first collaboration was The Veil which played as part of a student drama festival at Glasgow Arts Centre before moving on to the Traverse. lts general theme of longing (in that Instance, longing for the night to come) is reprised in Dolan’s second script Sabina.
This time the longing is for different identity and circumstances. Set in Scotland at the time oi the Czech Revolution of 1989, it features three characters, one a Czech teacher, one a pupil with a fascination for things Czechoslovakian and one who provides him with something to be
Marisol: ‘a poetic meditation, with homelessness a metaphor for living in the 20th century’
‘ myself one day. Not long after that
someone set the building beneath me on fire. It became obvious the city was changing and becoming out of control.‘ Political inspiration came from the death of Rivera‘s uncle. who was homeless. ‘Going to the funeral impressed on me how horrible it must be. I didn‘t want to do a documentary though. I have a fear of presenting political work that is too black and white. I wanted Marisol to be more of a poetic meditation. with homelessness a
‘ metaphor for living in the 20th 3 century.‘ Rivera is acutely aware of 3 how Mariml’s political implications are
in stark contrast to a much more
personalised American tradition. while Marisol‘s imperviousncss to events around her are endemic of our times. ‘Most of the time we experience things through TV. and that is very numbing. though I think we‘re still shocked by
things in the real world. I lived in LA when the riots were taking place. and that‘s still with me. In the play Marisol is put into a state of shock when her guardian angel leaves her. and is almost like a zombie.‘
Though he‘s been in regular contact with director Philip Howard. Rivera won't be making it to Scotland. as Cloud 'lilr'rouitts. his newest play. premieres in Los Angeles the same night as Marisol opens here. 'I'er'ronirs receives a performed reading at the Traverse three nights later. and comes very much from Rivera's experiences of living in Los Angeles. a seasonless place where the cult of youth is everything. ‘lt‘s about the nature of time. and a woman who makes time stand still.’
More magic then stemming from reality. like the angels of Marisol rooted in Rivera‘s own upbringing. ‘I grew up a Roman Catholic. and believed in angels quite literally. I find it curious how angels have now become a pop reference point and that people without a Catholic belief are starting to believe in them. The end of the century brings on great fears. and these figures provide comfort to people. but l think it‘s dangerous to place faith in some kind of transcendental being who‘ll come down and save us. I have extreme hope though. but in human ingenuity and the power of the mind. As an artist too. I believe the written word has incredible power to move and inspire. Ultimately though. it‘s the basic human instinct for survival that will get us through.‘
Marisol. 'Irai'erse llii’llll‘l’. Edinburgh. 3—26 March; per/ornwd reading of Cloud li'r‘tonir‘s. 7l‘(ll'(’l'.\‘(’ Theatre, 7 Marti/i.
fascinated with by posing as a Czech dissident, creating the character Sabina Vasiliev.
‘The attraction of the play is that everyone would like to wake up one day and be someone else and in this play you actually see it happen and the consequences,’ says McCann.
‘lt charts three people’s bid for freedom. Sandra doesn’t like being Sandra so she adopts this persona of Sabina. Matthew falls in love with Sabina and that’s him chasing his
Director Ronnie McCann
freedom. Thereza’s fighting her revolution, being a scholar and trying to get back to Prague and that’s her trying to find her freedom.’
Future plans include a revival of The Veil and an adaptation of a Sorley McLean poem to facilitate the incorporation of some Gaelic dialogue as part of Ciiram’s own search for identity. (Fiona Shepherd)
Sabina, The Arches, Glasgow, Wed 1—Sat 4 Mar.
.52 The List 24 Feb-9 Mar 1995