DRAMA The Maiden Stone
Edinburgh: Royal Lyceum Theatre, Fri 2—Sat 17 May.
'Everybody must get stoned,’ wailed Bob Dylan to the hippy multitudes more than 30 years back. But what if the only way of warding off unwanted suitors was to turn to stone, thus keeping one’s chastity firmly intact and becoming a very different sort of rock chick? Imbued with sexual symbolism, it’s a common enough image from folk tales, and one such yarn forms the core of Rona Munro’s recent play The Maiden Stone, receiving its first Scottish outing at Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum this fortnight.
Set in the bleak backwaters of 19th century Aberdeenshire, the play brings together two characters: a prim actress with aspirations, and a yarn- spinning earth-mother with a brood of twenty-odd children and one foot in another world. Devils and angels haunt their stories, which express a yearning to escape the shackles of domesticity and free their spirits, flexing their full creative muscles.
'lt's an epic,’ states Lyceum director Kenny Ireland bluntly, ‘and it needs an epic staging. What Rona’s done is take the problems of being a working mother, while also being driven by your own creativity. The woman irr this play is constantly being told she shouldn't pursue her career, and women come up against these barriers of defining themselves by their creativity even now.’
Herself a working, writing mum, Munro has described The Maiden Stone as her personal favourite of her plays, but relating to the theme is not difficult for Ireland - or indeed anyone with creative flair going
Creativity against the grain: Ann-Louise Ross and younger cast members
in rehearsal for The Maiden Stone
against the social grain. ‘lt’s absolutely relevant,’ he maintains. 'lt's about struggling for survival and making your dreams happen without compromising yourself in any way.’
The play is notable for scooping the first ever Peggy Ramsay Award, and was subsequently produced in London to a decidedly lukewarm reception. Ireland blames that on dullard hacks unwilling to get to grips with the Doric dialogue. ’A few of the reviews said it was incomprehensible, which infuriated me, because the poetry of the language is quite beautiful,’ he says. ’They're getting used to Glaswegian in London because of Rab C. Nesbitt and all that, but because this is a different kind of Scottish language, they couldn't deal with it. Even here the ear will need to be attuned, but at least the play will be judged on the huge themes it’s dealing with, rather than how it sounds.’ (Neil Cooper)
Everyone's in the club these days: Colette Sadler and Pauline Smith in Jeremy James's Minty/Minty Fresh
Davies and Jacked it in aged thirty- something because, he reckoned, he was way to old to dance. Now, aged 36, he's given his talents over with the Jeremy James Dance runs that one.
His Piece For Scotland is titled
says: ’Because I like the way it sounds.’ Which is fair en0ugh His influences have been described as coming from the club scene, street fashion and popular culture In reality, he admits, he doesn't go clubbing
choreograph to Jungle, he's well into acid Jazz and 'cloesn’t everyone go
Crossing The Border
Edinburgh: Traverse Theatre, Sat 3/Sun 4 May.
Glasgow: Cottier Theatre, Tue 6/Wed 7 May.
Triple-bill used to be a dirty word in dance terms. For years associated with cheesy ballet medleys high on variety and low on quality, it has only recently been reclaimed by mainstream contemporary companies like Rambert who now stage an evening's work by 'various’ choreographers With no shame.
Now the three-for-the-price-of-one
a4 THELIST 2—is May i997
deal is emerging as a show of strength on the independent scene, as Edinburgh-based Dance Productions prepares to launch its second triple-bill in the series dubbed A Border Crossing.
The event is a giant step up from the traditional platform affair, With complete works from local choreographers Marisa Zanotti and Vanessa Smith (of Group Ni, and one new commissioned xtor'k marrying the talents of fetir Scottish dancers With those of emerging London based Choreographer .‘eieit‘y James
James is a clinit.~:>ci'i’ir:he' with attitude, an ex-rzunk :lanced With Rambert, EVE and Sahhai‘i
clubbing, apart from ballet danceis7' Minty/Minty Fresh marks a departure frOm Jarnes’s usual music of choice,
completely to the art of choreography :
Company. No prizes for guessing who
Minty/Minty Fresh. Asked why, he ‘
that much anymore, but he does
by bringing contemporary composer Matteo Fargeo on board So is this work as accessible as the stuff he sets
to drum ’n' bass7
'l try and make sure it’s accessible to the mint where l give the audience a
sweetie and then I can do what you want,' he says This may sound pig- headed, but as James points out, popular appeal does not guarantee quality control. ’Accessible stuff can be shite,’ he says 'Who’s that bloke On the telly7 Noel Edmonds That’s accessible TV and that's shite’ Point taken (Ellie Carri
Glasgow: Tramway, Fri 9-Sat 17 May. Edinburgh: International Children's Festival, Mon l9—Sun 25 May.
PiXie dust has flown into TAG's new offices in Albion Street, Glasgow, and is refusing to settle. The celebrations surrounding TAG's 30 years as Scotland’s leading theatre company for young people are being swept into its production for Mayfest and the Children’s Festival.
Artistic director Tony Graham is more than happy about the spring timing. It is one element which sets Peter Pan, his final production for the company, free from pantomime assooations. ’The conventions we have layered it with, to me, are no longer interesting or relevant,’ he says. ’It is traditionally a Christmas show, but dOing it in spring -- suddenly you make different connections: for example, with birth and rebrrth.’
Both director and company Will also experience a rebirth soon, when Graham flies south to become artistic director of Unicorn Theatre iii London. Staging Jtvl, Barrie's fantasy play in the country of its origin befOre he leaves reflects his concern to find the real magic of the story. 'The unlinear, "Wild garden" character of the piece is rooted in a Scottish consciousness,’ says Graham, who believes this has been distilled in Stuart Paterson's adaptation. Combining storytelling, choreography and music, the staging Will be daring, evocative and ’not what yOu VJOtild expect' -« there Will be no strapping actors into harnesses and flying them beneath a proscenium arch
'The principle behind the whole creation and production of Peter Pan is children playing games,’ explains Graham ‘J M. Barrie had no educational motivation He was happy to watch them play and took their world very seriously, more seriously than the adult world? Graham is intent On shaking up children‘s theatre in Britain which, he feels, ’has been too tame, twee and Victorian ' When BHFFIEXVTOIQ the original in 1904 he was no piXie-fixated dreamer
This production of Peter Pan may be for seven-year-olds upwards, but even the most hardened layers of maturity can he lifted with a totich of magic As Barrie put it and Graham agrees >- "ioth:iio that happens after are twelve matters very much ' tHelen Ter’r'yl
Tony Graham: 'Barrie took children's world very seriously.‘