the companies’ combined talents. Bridges has, admits Shiftwork’s Bryan Angus, a slim narrative - a white woman travels to Africa, meets a black writer and is separated from him - but for both groups, there is ' more to drama that reciting lines. ‘Most narratives spend too much time desc'ibing people and Whal they dot, West Lothian might not be the ntost obvious place to hold an international

Building bridges


amusem- Stramash

. o festival. and as locations go it‘s hardlv physrcal presence on stage. Telling a '

/ . : the glitziest. But for the next couple of

x \ ,Story ""0th "lat phys'ca' mesa“? I weeks it becomes the centre of the

m , Pl n nurse" _ - ES 3 dme'em mm 0' meal”, but 't s universe. playing host to .S'Irttmttxlt ")5, 9! to at D 9- tust as strong.’ '

. i a unique and enterprising celebration of I The inte'n'auon?lly translatable l youth theatre the world over. anguage 0 "ms": and movement Set up by West Lothian Youth Theatre


Whatever happened to Carole Bayer Sager?

Robin Peoples. the i enabled "'8 seats and z'mbabweans last year. this second .S'Irttmtts/t brings Brunton Theatre ~9- together groups from America. Ireland.

ease; "5mg pe'cusswnv penny Wh'sue i Romania: England and South Africa to an." fiddle! all nine PerlP'mels m j exchange ideas via checking out each Bl'dges conmbute mus'callyt and they others‘ work. This culminates in an dlscove'e}! thal the d?"ce movements i evening of pieces devised throughout 0' "‘8 Amca" townsmps beat? smmg the festival by groups of participants '. resemblance to the‘ SlPP'danch 0’ from all countries involved.

the Westerly Isles. "sung W_ords IIke . West Lothian Youth Theatre‘s artistic “cultural d'llerencesn '5 kmd 0' lake,’ I director Scott Johnston has provided Angus coqlends- ‘we lound that we l much of the driving force for the had 0'93"“ abilities in common, and l festival. the initial inspiration for What the Show explons is people’s which. Arthur t‘Vlontford aside. was an

Company's artistic f I director. isn't sure. though ' he can see why such Broadway luminaries as playwright Neil Simon and composer Marvin Hamlisch would want to work with the lyricist and chanteuse best known for her bitter ditty from the I970s. ‘You're Moving Out Today‘. Sager duly provided the lyn'cs for They're Playing Our Song. Simon‘s small-scale mid-70s musical collaboration with l Hamlisch. revived by ' Peoples for the Brunton company's touring

r t’ k. Leap of faith: the Bridges company In rehearsal You’d be forgiven for thinking that Aberdeen and Zimbabwe are as far removed from each other culturally as they are alphabetically, but two theatre groups are showing that the perceived distance is partly illusory. Aberdeen is twinned with Bulawayo not a lot of people know that - and last year local physical theatre company Shiftwork visited their African brothers-in-art on a cultural exchange. During their stay they met NASA, the Nostalgic Actors’ and Singers’ Alliance, and were so


I to develop a rapport with surprising I

desire to perform together.’

Ironically, what began as an exercise in inter-continental bridgework proves proving that it takes only a small step to cross the cultural divide. (David Harris)

Bridges, Shiffworlt, St Bride’s,

annual event run on similar lines. the Liverpool-based Brouhalia street theatre festival. ‘We went there with twelve young people. some of whom i had never been out of Scotland before.’ i says Johnston of his first visit in l‘)‘)(). ‘Tbe chance for them to meet and work

production. 0 I impressed by the young township Edinburgh, Sun 29'September; ! with yotlli people from other cultures ‘ll‘S awry typ‘lcal b0)“ Panama's "Wlied “‘9'? ‘0 Borderline Theatre, Ayr, Sat4 is something that will live with them meets-girl story‘ says g Scotland to collaborate on a dellde November; Langside Ila/I, Glasgow, l for the rest of their livcs.‘

Peoples of this spotlit saga which sees a composer pushed together by his agent with a young- songstress. Being a romantic comedy. of course. a happy ending is

piece of dance theatre showcasing


‘lt actually sounds quite a tn'te.‘ Peoples concedes. ; ‘though this is deceptive.

Hamlisch‘s melodies are

lovely. and the dialogue , . film between [he The joy of Tramway s Dark Lights

characters, Like a” N9” season is its refreshingly cavalier Simon's plays. it's also attitude, allowing normally remit and very clever in its deadline-bound companies carte

. Sun 5llovember. Johnston recognised the opportunity

t to do somctlnng similar in West

Lothian. and thus .S'Irtmutr/i was born. Three groups were invited in ")4. and this year the number‘s been upped to ft ve. All the groups have performed to considerable acclaim. and represent different aspects of what youth theatre can be. Dublin's PACE company. for instance. who perform work devised from the writings of James Joyce. developed out of a Community Etnploymcnt project. Romania's offering. a version of Seneca's .»lgumenmun. is performed by students

construction. The way the story of these two musical creators runs parallel with the creation of the play itself is a really neat tn'ck.’

What. though. will East Lothian audiences make of Simon‘s wry and distinctly Stateside sense of humour? Peoples remains confident. ‘I don‘t think anyone will have a problem with the terms of engagement.‘ he says. ’We in Britain are exposed to so much American stuff from

television that we‘re tuned

in to things already. By no means is this a profound piece of theatre. but it is life-affirming. The thing about plays like this. though. is you very quickly run out of ways to describe them. Warm. funny. frothy. sparkling . . what else can you say?‘ (Neil Cooper) They're Playing Our Song, Brunton Theatre Company. on tour: Fri 27 October—Tue 17 November:

blanche to present the work they want. Director Caroline Hall, whose Diva company debuted to acclaim earlier this year with Brilliant Traces, opted to take Euripides’ version of the matricidal Electra myth, rip it apart and turn it upside down, before presenting what is very much a work- in-progress.

‘l’d directed a student production of Euripides’ play that had stayed with me,’ says Hall. ‘I wanted to move it in a different direction. I also wanted to collaborate with both a composer and a choreographer.’ To this end, llall drafted in Ross Campbell to work on the score, and Marisa Zanotti, formerly choreographer with post- modern dance troupe The Cholmondeleys.

‘It came out of a sense of frustration at not having certain skills at my fingertips, and out of a desire to be brave. Working with a composer means the music can develop along with the piece, and become more integrated into its world; while movement can be used as a way of expressing a truth that can be more articulate than words, and take things into different territories. We’re really

Traces of brilliance in Diva’s debut

trying to get underneath the psychology and emotions between mother and daughter here, and you can’t really do that without the father.’

But what does Hall see as the value of putting something essentially unfinished in front of the paying public? ‘Until you put something in front of an audience you don’t know if it’ll work or not,’ she replies. ‘The audience are the final piece of the jigsaw, and teach you new things by their response. Sometimes that’s great, but other times it means you have to go back to the drawing board. It’s all about expanding your vocabulary and expressing things not solely dependent on just words or

movement, but trying to marry the two.

Really it’s about trying to create a performance language. It’s not about people jumping on each other’s backs and pretending to be motorbikes.’ (ileil Cooper)

Elektra, Diva Productions, Tramway, Glasgow, Fri 27-8un 29 October.

of the Bucharest-based theatre school Academia de Teatru si Film. South Africa‘s Port Elizabeth Youth Theatre is the baby of the group. being set tip specially for .S'Irumtts/t following a visit to the township by Johnston.

West Lothian's own contribution to .S'lrumus/I is Tim 're (immue Have A Nasty x’ll‘t'lt/WII. an uncompromising depiction of the attractions of violence to young people. and how peer-group pressure can lead to grief.

Refreshing attitudes like this have made West Lothian leaders in their field since the group‘s inception ten years ago. and look set to make .S'lrumus/i a very exciting proposition indeed.

‘lt‘s the biggest event of its kind to hit not just West Lothian. but the whole of Scotland.‘ says Johnston. ‘lt's a unique opponunity for people to see some of the best theatre here outside the Edinburgh Festival. More importantly. for the groups taking pan it's a chance for young people to discover the impottance of theatre as a common language.‘ (Neil Cooper)

.S'Irtmtus/i '95, Hum/m Park ('wttrt’. [.t'vings/mi. .S'ttl 21—.S'tm 29 October: See listings for fllff tie/ails.

50 The List 20 Oct-2 Nov I995