Why The Caged Bird


A flame in your heart: Cat A in Doing Bird

Lattghing in the face of the inevitable Prisoner ('(1// Block H gags. ('at .-\ Theatre (‘ompany tspecialist subject: prison dramas) present the final instalment of their 'lit/w .\'u I’risuners trilogy which began with .\'u .llmn Fig/tier (the life and titnes of prisoner John McLean in l’eterhead Prison) and continued with Dirt [in/ers- .l/ '/‘/1(' Hear! (about needle-sharing in prison. therefore about AIDS. therefore far wider in scope than the words ‘prison drama‘ suggest).

Uni/re la’in/ tackles the vv omcn’s jailbird experience. a subject forever tarnished b)" the aforementioncd Aussie soap. and foregrounds the relevant political debates. using the thoughts of three inmates as the foundation of the piece.

‘Women tend to get a raw deal when it comes to sentencing policies and facilities in prisons.‘ says ("at .-\‘s director lrvine Allan. ‘l’or example. the only educational facility offered to women in Scotland has been hairdressing. There's no training-for- freedom programmes. Most men towards the end of their sentence can go into a tnore open prison; there's been nothing like that for wotnen. The separation of mother and child is another really important issue. llut things are starting to change, The Scottish prison service are trying to end the direct discrimination of women.‘

This new play has been developed and written by a well qualified team: lifer Billy Iilliot. former Barlinnie Special l'nit writer-in-residencc Willy Maley and John .‘yialey'. .-\ward-winning choreographer l.i/. Ranken is also involved. and the show will be accompanied by an exhibition of artwork from prisons and by an all-day seminar on prison eultttre.

‘The plays are a call for tolerance and understanding for prisoners instead of this village mob mentality that “they've got to suffer; prison does them good“.' explains Allan, ‘We're looking to make a case for more formative custody rather than destructive custody' (liiona Shepherd) Doing Bin! tours throng/mu! .lluy'ft'sl and beyond. The seminar will In /I(’/(/ in the 0/11 .‘lf/lt’lltll‘lllll (HI -/ May. A lime/ii event/re fur/mime nurvir from Slut/t uml corner/y from l’ltl'l Kay. Bil/y Bankers" and others ll'IH [HAT p/rlt'r' (if/W" I/Ie pcrlorntrtru'e on I5” 5.

18 The List 21 Apr-4 May l995

conspiracy. more in the way that

Renaissance é man

Twenty-five years of directing, translating and

acting at the Citizens'

1 Theatre should be enough

to keep a man busy. you’d ' think. Not Robert David MacDonald. as Peter Kimpton found out.

There‘s a loose-limbed. laid-back manner about Robert David MacDonald which appealineg offsets his obviottsly hyperactive career. A trained musician. former translator for l3.‘\'liS(‘(). actor. director and translator for theatre and opera frotn ('ovcnt (iarden to Minneapolis. and limmy award-winner for his Broadway adaptation of llill‘ um! I’vmr. But since June l‘)7(). his tnain base has been the ('iti/ens' 'l‘heatrc. where he's directed 50 productions and translated over ()0 plays from ten different languages. He's also written a dozen of his own. and is currently directing the thirteenth. l’ersmts Unknown.

The new play dramatises the well documented story of (’aspar llauset‘. the ‘wild boy“ who suddenly appeared in Nttrmberg in ISZS. fttlly grown. yet almost completely ittarticulate. unkempt and socially untrained. Having spent his childhood in grisly solitary conllnement. he was thought to be heir to a dukedom. from which he had been cheated.

MacDonald‘s interest is less in the society tries to manipulate (‘aspar ittto being a hero. merely creating a

' monstrosity which it then wants to

destroy. (‘aspar is a metaphorical piece of clean l’lasticine in which the dirty marks of others leave their impression. Those who manipulate ('aspar are reflected in him. and are thus themselves the persons unknown.

‘( 'aspar‘s fate is the opposite to Liza’s in I’ve/inrlimt.‘ .\lacl )onald explains. drawing a parallel with those who ‘create' icons like Marilyn Monroe. ‘lhey made her beatttifttl by demanding she is beautiful. only create stars that they can undo. would like to be themselves but mast do as they are ltllti.‘

continuing interest in central liuropcan history which. he explains with characteristic dryness. ‘is what ljust happen to know something about.‘ l’rom Hutch/rt ( 1072) via .‘llllltl Karen/rm t I‘)S7l to last years /It Quest

_ o/ ('oltsr'mtr't'. .\lacl)onald's fascination with liuropean sources

persists. and tnuch of the (‘iti/ens‘

reputation as a theatre of liuropean

standing is thanks to him. Born in lilgin. he sees himself as both Scottish and littropcan. dismissing patriotism as ‘a public lavatory virtue’.

.'\s an actor. .\lacl)onald has also

Coldly articulate: Robert David MacDonald as Stangl in his own play

l'sliVlN l.()\\‘

In Quest of Conscience played numerous leading roles at the ('it/. From Professor Higgins in I’ve/mt/imt to In Quest o/'('mis‘r‘ir'ttr'os

coldly articulate. machine—like Stangl.

he has a definite liking for talkative. aphoristic roles. ‘That's how I talk

: anyway.‘ he remarks. lie also does a

side-splitting legend-in-the-(‘itz-

canteen impression of a certain 'l‘hts latest work follows MacDonald's

('m‘miulrmt .S'Iree/ star. ‘l'd love to do Reg lloldsworth.‘ he says. ‘lixcept for

i the wig.‘

.-\nd his favourite (‘itizens' production in 25 years‘.’ "l’here are numerous ones

i directed by others. but from mine I Z suppose Kraus's 'l'lu' /.(l.\‘l Days of

.llmzkim/ for its liuropcan element. its British premiere and rarity. cost- cffectiveness and a great performance from (iiles liavergal.‘ A summary which might be said to describe the ethos of the (‘iti/ens' Theatre for the past quarter—century

l’r't'sous {Ink/1mm. (Wife/1.x" Stu/ls

Slut/lit), lli'r/ .9 -.\'(t/ .3!) .l/(l_\'.

Money man

‘lt's only thinking and you can't stop

it.’ It might seems a pretty cryptic

aphorism on its own, but this was the

initial inspiration behind Mike Cullen’s

noirish psychological thriller The

, Collection. ‘The line came from

nowhere,’ says Cullen, ‘but it set me

wondering what you would do if

something’s plaguing your mind so bad i ' that you can’t stop thinking.’

This led Cullen to the seamy world of debt collecting, where a late-night

. phone call is just as effective as the

strongarm tactics employed by illegal Ioansharks. The protagonist of the play, ‘financial adviser’ Bob Lawson, is a ruthless prime mover in this world,

completely without conscience. Until, ; i become, and why the woman died.

that is, a female client commits

suicide. Lawson becomes obsessed with his other female clients, taping

The Collection: noirish thriller

conversations, then analysing them

for clues to what he is and what he’s

‘lt’s been a real challenge to me, creating a whole world,’ says Cullen.

‘lt’s also trying to do something new with classical structure, which doesn’t quite fit with the realist language, by fiddling around with the whole notion of self-realisation.’

Like Cullen’s previous play The Cut - set at the coalface of a mine The Collection is unashamedly rooted in the machinations of a man’s world. Where The Collection differs is in breaking away from the closed order of the mines Cullen knew first hand, to a frank exploration of the male psyche and its relation to women.

‘The woman in this play is very much a stylised male idealisation of one. She passes through various stages and is constantly battling against each one, so it’s more than just a stylistic device. I think it’s about a lack of communication and men’s inability to communicate, which is something I see all the time.’ (Neil Cooper)

The Collection, Tron Theatre, Glasgow, 26-30 April. Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, 2-21 May.