Now in its third year. Febfest has outgrown its origins as a purely student drama festival to become the biggest new writing festival in Scotland. allaying locals’ suspicions of mass cultural takeover by providing a platform writers wouldn’t otherwise have. This year sees a score of full- scale works on show, alongside late- night improv nonsense in ThouIna/mrrs, where the festive spirit of extended licensing hours will no doubt be on display.
Previous li‘ebl‘est successes have i included Anita Sullivan‘s play set , amongst Edinburgh‘s sauna trade. Just ll'lnm's. though l"ebl'cst's administrator l ('hrislabel Anderson stresses a shift in l the programme this year from purely scripted work to both devised and more physical enterprises. ‘There's a lot of people out there producing really innovative stuff. and without Febfest they simply couldn‘t get them staged.‘ she says.
As well as local authors. this year‘s offerings were selected from some 7() scripts received from as far afield as Sweden. Ireland. and . . . er . . . ()xford. Many of the groups taking part will be utilising skills learned in a workshop season last autumn.
A major step for l’ebfest is using the Netherbow Arts Centre as a second venue. l’anly influenced by Edinburgh University Settlemcnt's loss of Stepping Stones. it nevertheless allows
beest 96 proves there's life'after Sex And Death (above), showcased at Febfest 95
l’ebfest to absorb different inlluences. ‘lt's a very positive move. in that it will allow us to get people to work together.‘ says Anderson.
As in previous years. the full programme will be followed up by a Best of l'l‘lil-Csl showcase season at the 'l‘raverse. an association Anderson sees as crucial. ‘liebfest is a chance for writers to get one tnore step along the ladder from community drama. You‘ve got the l._\ ccum and the 'l‘raverse. but we‘re somewhere in between that. The important thing is the opportunity l“ehfest’s given to people. both for audiences to see the work and for the people who produce it. It's a very rare opportunity. even in lidinbtirgli.‘ (\‘eil (’ooper)
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Killed in a pub brawl aged 29, alleged to be a spy, an atheist and a homosexual — all equally dangerous in Elizabethan England — obsessed with violence and over-reaching
ambition . . . Christopher Marlowe died young, and by all accounts lived fast. It’s easy to see why he’d be attracted to the story of a man whose quest for knowledge and pleasure leads him into a fatal contract with the devil.
Dr Fausfus is a patchy play, but its magnificent opening and closing scenes - which show Faustus’s negotiations with Mephistopheles, the envoy from hell, and their final consequences - have made it Marlowe’s best known, most performed work. A new production, visiting Glasgow this fortnight, comes from Sheffield’s Compass Theatre Company. ‘We’re known for looking at plays which are perceived to be quite awkward,’ says lieil Sissons, the company’s artistic director. ‘It’s a very broken-backed play - it’s got a wonderful opening, a difficult middle and a tremendous ending. What we’ve done is use music to try and give it a sense of cohesion.’
Apart from playing a range of roles including the Pope, Helen of Troy and the Seven Deadly Sins, three busy supporting actors double as composer/musicians, guiding the audience through the play’s journey.
This helps illustrate the relationship between tragically curious Faustus and the strangely melancholic Mephistopheles; and the central theme of damnation. But how relevant is such a theme to us secular sceptics of the millennium?
‘A well understood debate in the 20th century has been the perceived absence of God,’ replies Sissons. ‘In a sense, Faustus’s challenge is his desperation for God to make Himself manifest. He needs some kind of affirmation of goodness. He’s constantly offered it but it’s as though he can’t trust it. In the age of science he needs some kind of proof and of course God never offers that. Proof is not part of the mystical experience.
‘I think that’s very resonant for us. People are looking for some understanding of the nature of their situation, and that can open up the way to their dark side.’ (Andrew Burnet)
Dr Faustus, Compass Theatre Company, Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Tue 13—Saf 17 February.
David Greig’s black comedy reveals a disillusioned 90’s family . . . a family so tense, i: they’re fearing themselves apart
BY DAVID GREIG WORLD PREMIERE
Fri 23 FebSun l0 Mar Box Office 0l3l 228 l404 Tickets £7(£3.50/£2) _
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Students £4 BOX Office any seat any night 0131-229 9697
The List 9-22 Feb I996 59