the £172.()t)l) grant it receives frotn Strathclyde region isn‘t replaced. ()ther theatres may he forced to follow suit -— without knowing what they will receive from the new authorities. forward planning is virtually impossible. The worst-case scenarios are hardly rosy.
Into the hreach springs a organisation called the Federation of Scottish Theatres. motivated hy the need to present a united front to Scottish Office ministers. The federation stresses that while even Michael l5orsyth has acknowledged the case for greater support for Scottish film. theatre. which nurtures movie industry talent. is heing starved.
()n closer inspection. this show of unity hegins to look like a last stand. If the comhined theatre sector loses its argument for increased puhlic suhsidy. there will inevitath he losers. Already \lusselhurgh’s Brunton 'l‘heatre has had its S/\(‘ funding stopped altogether. and all agree that. if the cake isn't going to get any higger. the numher of slices will have to he reduced. It may he harder for theatre groups to stick together if the going gets tough.
'lf for political reasons nothing changes. we may start to see companies falling on their swords] chairman .\'eil Murray of Glasgow—hased theatre company 7:84. ‘ELiual misery for all ohviously isn’t working and it won’t he just companies losing a show. htit the companies themselves will he going. I think people have started to accept that.’
Against this hackdrop. the SAC is trying to find a replacement for drama director Anna Stapleton who leaves in April alter eight years in the joh. (ierry Mulgrew of Edinhurgh-hased touring company (‘ommunicado descrith the joh as a ‘poisoned chalice‘. and it seems likely the new appointee will have to make some difficult decisions early on. Stapleton says that the S.-\("s theatre clients have responded well to the pressures with no drop in quality. hut she admits it‘s a 'very worrying time‘.
The departure of Ian Brown in Septemher alter eight years at the Traverse marks the end of an era that saw the theatre‘s transition from its original Grassmarket home to purpose-huilt
premises within a major office development off
Lothian Road. Brown will leave alter the lidinhurgh Festival. with no definite plans. The has very puhlicly hacked Brown. who says he is confident his contract would have heen renewed had he wanted to stay.
Artistically. the Traverse's importance has undouhtedly grown under Brown and it has garnered an impressive international reputation. In fact. he wonders whether lidinhurgh theatre-goers don't sometimes take
The way work is received has become less generous and more antagonistic. It’s a dispiriting time for playwrights at the moment.
its commitment to new work for granted. ‘()ur critical reception is a moot point.‘ he says. ‘The way work is received has hecome less generous and tnore antagonistic. It‘s a dispiriting time for playwrights at the moment.‘
Brown hecame artistic director and general manager two years ago. Although he does not directly say it. his manner suggests he is slightly hattered hy the whole process of managing the huilding. while continually fighting against cuts. ‘When you‘re trying to make hudgets work. that‘s when you start feeling hemmed in about what you can and can‘t do.‘ he says. ‘I knew enough was enough and the decision had to he made.‘ Brown concedes that if nothing changes in terms of public suhsidy. his. successor may he in for a rough ride. The competing pressures of trying to stage challenging work. while ensuring hums
Ian Brown (left): Moscow Stations, starring Iom Courte
SCOTTISH THEATRE FEATURE
nay (above) was among several works of international standing
are acquainted with seats. are acutely felt at the 'l‘raverse. with its special remit to develop new writing.
In Glasgow. Michael Boyd is preparing to take tip his new post as associate director at the Royal Shakespeare (‘ompany in July. It's a prestigious job which anyone would have heen flattered to he offered. htit Boyd says he might well have stayed if the Tron‘s financial position had heen stronger. The real frustration for him as an artistic director has heen the tiny number of shows — three a year. at most — which can he produced in-house. The rest of the time. the Tron simply receives touring shows. Nonetheless. over ten years. Boyd has presided over the company‘s remarkahle development. helping carve it a real identity within Scottish theatre.
The possihility of attracting National Lottery funding for a £5 million redevelopment of the huilding promises hetter times ahead. but it wasn‘t enough to keep Boyd in Scotland. Theatre writer Peter Arnott. who had several plays staged at the Tron in the late S()s. believes the theatre hoard could have difficulty recruiting an artistic director with anything like the standing of the highly regarded Boyd. ‘l ’tiless by chance they hring in someone really good who will work within these constraints. they have to look at other ways of filling the post.‘ says Arnott. who suggests the possihilty of visiting directors.
‘The Tron doesn‘t get enough money — it's as simple as that.‘ says Boyd. ‘That‘s why l’m going. and if our grant had .douhled I don't know if I would have gone.’
Ian Brown doesn‘t say that. htit you can't help hut wonder. This pessimism hanging in the air can’t he helping the Tron and Traverse hoards attract new talent. particularly if they are looking south of the border to recruit. Ian Brown and Michael Boyd could he more sorely missed than anyone has yet realised.
The List 23 Felt—7 Mar I006 21