Hangin’ with the Billy boy
When Borderline Theatre Company agreed to perform two plays sent to them by an anonymous Scottish playwright. a huge dirty cackle bellowed out across California. The laugh and the work both belonged to one W. Connolly. the Big Yin himself. Both parties were happy that An Me W1 A Bad Leg The and When Hair Was Long And Yime Was Slim-I had been chosen on their artistic merit alone.
Billy Connolly has collaborated closely with director John Murtagh to sharpen up the scripts. which were first performed in the mid-l970s. and offer a hilarious angle on what life was like back then. Connolly has even been looking in on rehearsals.
‘They were on their backs laughing at him.’ reveals Murtagh. ‘What impressed them was that he’s not just a welder who‘s made it doing stand-up comedy, he‘s a highly intelligent man. He has ajoy in living. a belief in people. He’s laughing at people not in anangry, destructive way. but pointing out their idiosyncrasies. His great ability is to get people to laugh at very ordinary things.‘
With these plays. there's a case for claiming Connolly as one of Scotland‘s finest contemporary writers. Murtagh likens An Me Wi A Bad Leg 'lite to lbsen‘s The Black Swan because it deals so frankly with the family relationship. The plays are. Murtagh claims. insights into Connolly‘s own dysfunctional upbringing — the only thing that brought his family together was alcohol.
Murtagh is hoping people will appreciate Connolly‘s genius and dispense with the California recluse image tagged on him by the Scottish press. He loves his homeland, and in fact spends a lot oftime back home. it‘s just that he chooses not to alert the media. ‘Not a lot of people know that Billy bought the strips for a wee football team in the west of Scotland.‘ says Murtagh. ‘and that he actually goes along to the annual prizegiving every year. Billy isn‘t anonymous to people — only the press. who he feels he can‘t trust. If they want to know about him then they should come along; the show tells you all the feelings he has for himself. his family and country.‘ (Philip Dorward)
An Me Wi A Bad Leg Tue/When Hair Was Long And Time Was Short.
Seated next to what he took to be a very genteel lady at an afternoon party, Clyde Unity Theatre’s artistic director John Binnie broached some polite conversation. ‘And what do you do?’ he asked. ‘Oh, I write,’ came the slightly surprising reply. Intrigued, he inquired further. ‘Och you won’t have
' heard of it, son,’ she answered
humbly. Things like The Breadmakers .‘l almost fell off my chair,’ recalls Binnie, who had already fallen for Margaret Thomson Davis’s popular
2 novel, set in and around Macllair’s
.- i ‘ b . . Guaranteed to raise splrlts: Borderline 1 aka” m 19305 nova"
The story centres on Catriona Munro, who ﬂees her fanatically religious mother and marries a much older man. Coming into contact with the bakery staff and the people who congregate at the adjoining tenement, the unworldly Catriona develops into a strong, independent young woman.
Although the book is among the most
' frequently borrowed from Glasgow z libraries, it’s not the usual fare served
up to the city’s theatre audiences.
Binnie believes the forgotten voices of ;
working-class women deserve a forum. ‘I began writing because I’m gay and Scottish, and growing up I’d
j never seen anyone on stage to identify with; so I’m really into giving outsiders a chance of speaking.’
He believes that he’s offering more
A.” -. '
' Dough — the rght thing for Mari Binnie in Breadmakers than bread alone. ‘A lot of books like
’ that are very nostalgic - “0h, wasn’t it
great, there were thirteen of us in a
: single end; we were poor but we were
together.” This book successfully
‘ evokes the past, but I feel it says something important: to be this poor
can destroy spirits, and to be ignorant
: of your sexuality as a woman can ; really twist your life.’
The company has already had a huge success in community theatres with
another Davis novel, Bag Woman, Bich
Woman. ‘lt’s a wonderful audience, I because it’s so honest,’ says Binnie. ‘If they think it’s crap in llrumchapel they’ll tell us!’ That won’t happen if the author’s fans are out in force - : with this slice of Glasgow life he’ll . have them eating out of his hand. (David Harris) Breadmakers, Clyde Unity Theatre, - Pearce Institute, Glasgow, Wed 3 and touring.
While the comedy mediafest that is
5 the Edinburgh Fringe seems to get
5 larger, and more expensive, each year, i
Glasgow’s Mayfest continues to ; rumble with its quiet storm. Not for
Mayfest the Jack Bees and Jo Brands
, of this world. Instead, much of i Mayfest’s comedy output seems to
; rest within the wanna-possibly-could-
I be territory. While the figures of Fred MacAulay and Tommy Cockles are
circuit old-handers, the likes of Scott 3 Capurro, Bonald Fraser-Munro and a
group of tyros hanging under the umbrella llae Angles—Nae Pretence seem to reflect the diverse nature of
; Mayfest as a whole.
Of them all, Nae Angles . . . is going out on the biggest limb. Four local lads offer stand-up for much less than the price of a pint. All of them perform independently on the club circuit, but can they cut it with the big boys? At
: £1.50 it could well be worth a gamble.
If it’s a safe comedy bet that you are
after then you should seek and destroy , your misery with San Franciscan
7 comic, Scott Capurro, who last year ' picked up both the Perrier Best
Newcomer and Spirit of the Fringe
2 Awards. llis one-man show Risk-Gay ; sold out at the Fringe last year and
had to be transferred to a larger
Pavilion Theatre. Glasgow. 2—13 May. "wane! sum was me demand ﬂ"
tickets. Capurro’s promise is founded
2 in his sharp improvisational skills and 3 his thought-loaded observations on
‘ life, be it homo or hetero.
Capurro’s comedy is far removed
7 from the asexual acid satire of Ronald ' Fraser-Munro. Like Quack FM, his hit
5 show from last year, Munro’s show
'- does not deal with idle gossip, The
i double-bill of Bruder C’est Grim and le
3 Chaise Longue Dangereuse
concentrates on words and, with the
Q help of some computer imagery,
‘ bastardises them. Feasting uncompromisineg of the evils of apathy, greed and collusion and is not comedy for the faint-hearted. (Philip
l Tommy Cockles, 27 April, 8pm; Scott
, Capurro, 27 April, 10.30pm; Bonald
Fraser-Munro, 28 April, 7.30pm; llae
; Angles-Nae Pretence, 28 April, 8pm;
I Fred MacAulay, 3 May, 10.30pm.
Tommy Cockles: heartwarming
GOES to l. count 1"
Newspaper sellers seem to develop totally indeciplierable cries. How this helps to sell papers is a mystery not yet fully understood. btit perhaps that is just as well. There is something unsettling about a man in the street shouting 'l-‘inal Times - the cry is more like a portent of doom than a marketing device for the last edition of an evening newspaper.
liven/Ire [fr/mes. an exhibition at Glasgow's CCA. is a celebration of this familiar pai't ofcity centre life. It consists of almost life-sized photographs of newspaper vendors from 23 cities around Britain aitd Ireland. taken by Belfast artist John Carson. attd recordings of the vendors' cries. by Dublin musician and composer Conor Kelly. The vendors‘ voices. more like howls than anything else. are mixed with the noise of shoppers and buskers. giving a rich blend of sounds.
‘We hear these cries subliiiiinally.‘ says Kelly. '()ur work is partly about taking a second look and also a celebration of regional diversityf
l-‘eaturcd in the exhibition. Vince l’erguson from Coatbi'itlge sells the lire/ling 'li'mev outside Marks and Spencer in Argyle Street. Glasgow. He says Carson's photograph of him is: ‘Quite nice really. l’ity it wasn't ill colour.‘ llis cry. familiar to many that pass by. has a deep. operatic tone that swings from high to low. carrying down the bustling. pctlcsti‘iaitised section of one of Glasgow’s main
But does it sell
f newspapcrs'.’ Not as
f effectively as a special
; offer like a free packet of f crisps. concedes tlie
vendor. although he
believes it might make a difference sometimes. Whatever the impact on sales. his distinctive cry is difficult to ignore — on the street or in the art gallery. (Philip Cowan)
liven/Ire [Sc/Ines is at (he C(‘xl. (i/as'gmiﬁ/i'mn I’I'i 28 Apr—l0 Jun.
20 The List 21 Apr-4 May 1995