HOLOCAUST DRAMA An Opera For Terezin
Glasgow: James Arnott Theatre, Mon 16—Sun 22 Mar.
’They say of Auschwitz, if you didn't enter it, you can never enter it, and once you have entered, you can never leave. But you, Lilian Atlan, you were never there, yet you were always there.’ So spoke Holocaust survivor after reading Atlan’s play An Opera For Terezin.
It’s a story within a stOry, set far in the future, and structurally based on the Seder ceremony, which commemorates the children of lsrael’s flight from Egypt
A group of children disco‘xer the manuscript of An Opera For Terezin and try to piece together what happened in the Nazi camp at Theresienstadt. They learn about a 'star-shaped meeting’, a Jewish remembrance ceremony, and decide to recreate it. In other parts of the play, which is to be performed by Glasgow University theatre students, prisoners’ stories are acted out. Readings of their letters and poems are intertwined with projections of drawings and paintings.
Atlan describes the piece as a ritual rather than a show. Deeming traditional drama inadequate, she invented the star-shaped meeting, which she envisages as simultaneous readings of the text all over the WOle, With video links. The Glasgow performances coincide wrth similar events at universities in Berlin, Paris and Haifa.
PERFORMANCE ART Shallow Water & Operation Zero/Vision 20—20
Glasgow; Tramway, Thu l 2—Sat l4 Mar/Thu l9—Sat 21 Mar.
Skeleton crew: Vision 20—20
Welsh performance group U-Man Zoo arrive at Tramway this fortnight wrtli Vision 20—20, a piece that looks typical of the company's imaginative style Written by artistic director Richard Downing, the show is inspired by cosmonaut Sergei Krikarev's five months marooned on the Mir space station in “1990, ‘as a rapidly disintegrating Soviet Union wondered what to do about him.
Solemn remembrance: one of Lilian Atlan's drawings from the text of An Opera For Terezin
Theatre Studies reader Claude Schumacher initiated the Glasgow project. A firm believer in the power of theatre, he admits that a creative tension has developed between himself and Atlan.
’Atlan says, "this is not a play and i don't want it to be read as a play," ' explains Schumacher. 'So what do I do? Say at the door of the theatre that it‘s a Jewish Seder?’ He is certain that theatre is the best way to tell this story, because of its ’messiness'. He explains. 'You see the actor sweating, having stage fright. Theatre reincarnates people who have Suffered.‘
’He had nothirrri else to do but observe the Earth from an Olympian posnion,’ explains Downing. Krikalev finds his own abandonment mirrored in two books Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and Paul Bahn's History Of Easter Island
’He sees his stiuaticin parallelled by Nemo's rejection of the land, and in the story of Easter lsland, which is still the most isolated part of the planet,’ says Downing. ‘The questions he is forced to ask are questions we are asking about ourselves at the end of the millenniurn.’ This contemplative thread shOuld not burden a piece that also relies on subtle humour and seguiling imagery. 'The play isn’t particularly tub-thumping] says Downing. ’lt can he enjoyed just for the pictures, if that's what you want.’
Earlier in the fortnight comes a double—bill by rniiiti-meclia company Third Angle. Shal/ow Water and Operation Zero.
insta lation by day, solo perforrnanre art by night, Shallow Water explores the an of washing with the help of a mammoth bath tub rlﬂd the heady smell of 7‘00 bars of soap. ‘lt s an examination of a private, iriundane ritual that everyone goes tiiiougi in what should be a restful and comforting t)l=l’.(".,' says performer Rachel Walton
Experirr’ient Zero, irreanwliile, is a six— performer piece using film and soundtrack to irivestrga'e the desire to escape the dull daily rituals of life — like having a bath, presumably.
new shows THEATRE
COMEDY DOUBLE-BILL Lynn Ferguson & Geraldine McNulty Tounng
Playing men appears to be far from a problem for Lynn Ferguson. In a new double bill with Geraldine McNulty — which has her compering herself at a stand-up comedy night — one of her characters is Michael O’Leary.
‘l've just been to bloke-playing classes,’ states Ferguson. Extensive character research has clearly gone into her work-in-progress show, currently entitled Lynn Ferguson’s Thingy. ’At this point in time l’ve got three characters Michael O'Leary, mid- 30s, from an indeterminate part of lreland; Jenny Park, who is doing her first gig ever - she’s from an indeterminate part of Lancashire; and
there’s Al, who is indeterminately American.’
A Thingy about comedy: Lynn Ferguson
The show should be fully developed by the time it reaches the mayhem of the Edinburgh Festival. McNulty, meanwhile, who previously toured with Ferguson in l996, is also developing new characters. These include Letitia Lee of the Letitia Lee Fruit & Veg Empire, plus a caring, sharing telephone Operator and a talentless
diva. No men, though. (Brian Donaldson) ﬂ For tour dates, see page 71.
POLlTlCAL DRAMA Taking Sides
Glasgow: East Kilbride Arts Centre, Fri 6 & Sat 7 Mar; Ramshorn Theatre, Tue
lO—Sat 14 Mar.
Art and politics have had an uneasy relationship since the very dawn of time. Ronald Harwood's play Taking Sides tells the true story of German composer Wilhelm Furtwangler, who suffered Crucible—like houndings after World War ll for
his alleged allegiance to the Nazis.
’The play is a clash between the artistic fzectlsrr. rt thn
nrliiidual and the
pressures imposed on that freedom by the corlective political responsibility of government,’ explains Michael Emans, who is directing the play for East Kilbride- based Rapture Theatre Company. While the play follows an Agatha Chnstie- esgue ’was he or wasn't he?‘ path, there are obvious contcmporary resonances. 'The arts in Britain today are in greater threat than ever,’ Emans believes, citing Wildcat Stage Productions — recently stripped of its regular public funding — as an example. 'This is all done in the name of chanelling money into areas which are
for the "greater political good . (Brian Donaldson)
Chris Smith may want to pop along to see it.
POLlTlCAL DRAMA Mary Stuart
Glasgow: Arches Theatre, Wed lS—Sat 2) Mar.
Mary Queen of Scots once wrote to her cousin: 'lf one of us were a man, our marriage would be the most sensible in history' That cousin was Queen Elizabeth I, who would eventually condemn her to death.
Written by Italian theatre revolutionary Dacia Maraini, Mary Stuart takes a fresh look at the pair's relationship in the months leading up to Mary's napper-removal. A co- production between Glasgow’s Small Planet Productions and Bristol’s Starship Enterprises, the play wrll see the inside of theatres and prisons across Scotland.
‘lt‘s a play about female and sexual imprisonment,’ states producer Sue Hillman, explaining the connection. ’lt
Crowned heads: Maggie O'Brien and Miriam Cooper in Mary Stuart
toured extensively in prisons down south, where it has gone down very well'.
And fear not that it's just another costume drama whose costumes are more crucial than the drama. 'We’re talking about a historically correct setting of Elizabeth and Mary,‘ explains Hillman. ’But the themes are sexual politics and power — are totally contemporary.’ (Brian Donaldson)
6--l9 Mar 1998 THE LIST“