NEW SEASON Local/A Language Of
Others Glasgow: Tramway, Wed 6-Sat 9 May.
If Darwin were alive today, he'd take a sharp interest in the preparations underway at Tramway. The venue’s new season, opening this fortnight, has been entitled Prepare To Evolve. It begins with a collaborative piece, Local, by the award-winning Suspect Culture company. The show explores the experience of Glasgow from the point of view of its indigenous folk.
The company’s co-founder Graham Eatough is director of Local, which is currently being developed by twelve non-professional theatre workers. ’It deals with ideas of identity and geography,’ he explains. ’It's about people’s relationship to the city of Glasgow, and how this is manifested in quite esoteric ways. It talks about how you lie about your home, and how authentic your relationship is to the place you’re born, or move to. The six characters in the play are all travelling to Glasgow Central station, and as they journey, they
At home in Glasgow: Graham Eatough
Performed in tandem with Local, dancer Alex Rigg’s
think about their projected future - where they see themselves in ten or twenty years. Their projections are always about leaving the city.’
Eatough — a Glasgow resident who hails from Blackburn, Lancashire — is more interested in the emotional states that bring about these fantasies; and in their onstage, multi-media presentation. Video footage presents the realistic narrative structure of the characters’ journeys, while the live performance moves in other directions. ’It’s a non-naturalistic performance style, a lot to do with gesture and slightly abstract stage technique, which brings out the emotional issues more clearly,’ he explains. 'We’re starting with each participant’s personal experiences, then transforming them with other people’s collaboration into theatre -
collaborative piece, A Language Of Others demonstrates even greater ambition in terms of its blend of media. Dance, sculpture, song, jazz, drama and the Macnaughton's Vale of Atholl Pipe Band are among the eclectic ingredients of this elaborate theatrical event. Rigg's improvisational training techniques could be described as a kind of method acting for dancers. ‘I've tried to create a fairly rigorous training programme,’ he explains. ’It involves getting dancers to feel, rather than pretend emotions, by asking them to remember experiences like rolling down a steep hill, without consciously trying to demonstrate it. Just the expressions on their faces show the audience enough in performance.’ It’s a language of others in itself.
everyone involved has a sense of owning the piece.’
' DEVISED DRAMA Love, Lies, Bleeding
Glasgow: Citizens' Theatre, Wed 13—Sat 23 May; Edinburgh: Traverse Theatre, Thu 4—Sun 7 Jun.
On paper, a dramatic collaboration between Hamish Macbeth writer Daniel Boyle and Raindog director Stuart Davids - who played Lachie Jnr in the TV series — might look like a comfortable creative match. But the partnership seems more unusual when you discover that Boyle is a theatre virgin of impeccable credentials. ’I’ve only been to the theatre probably five
54 TIIE U81 30 Apr-14 May 1998
Making a new start: love, Lies, Bleeding
times in my whole life, and in half of those visits I've walked out during the interval,’ he admits.
Boyle’s work has been so resolutely TV-oriented that embarking on an improvised theatre piece has come as a culture shock. ’It’s been frightening. Each day without a script is frightening — improvisation can be very vague. But ultimately, as the writer, you are responsible for bringing order to it.’
The result will be Love, Lies, Bleeding, which concentrates on the fledgling romance between a couple trying to cope in the aftermath of their partners’
deaths. The play takes place over a single night in a bar crowded with the couple’s sceptical friends and family.
'It's quite a strange way of working,’ says Boyle. ’The set of characters, scenario, location and story-line were already in place before I came to it. Each one of the twelve characters has to have a reasonable dramatic life and all this has to be done in four or five weeks' rehearsal time from start to finish.’
The strained schedule has nevertheless produced an upbeat and romantic story. ’We wanted to do something more optimistic and comedic in its roots,’ says director Stuart Davids. 'The play takes a look at an ordinary group of people in a pub but adds a magical element. It should have the feel of an old Hollywood movie.’
Despite the tough initiation, Boyle is intrigued to see how his visit to the theatre will go down. 'It's been nice to get the freedom to write in this way. You can't always guarantee that an audience will actually come and watch your work when writing for TV in the way you can when writing for theatre.’ (Chris Small)
Kind Hearts And Coronets
Edinburgh: King's Theatre, Mon 11—Sat 16 May.
The Ealing comedy Kind Hearts And Coronets has eaten its way in to British mass consciousness. It may be because the 1949 classic can still offer surprises, despite repetitive viewing. in the film, Louis Mazzini (Dennis Price), seething with class resentment, kills six heirs (all played by Alec Guinness) to get a dukedom. Director Robert Hamer based his sharp screenplay very loosely on Roy Horniman's book Israel Rank.
Now touring the country, a new stage adaptation by Giles Croft focuses more on the book than the film, and as a result is much darker. So, at any rate, believes actor Robert Powell, who plays Mazzini. Although it is still basically a black comedy, this version has more edge than the film. 'People laugh when I actually strangle somebody,’ says Powell. 'I mean — that gets a laugh, so you can understand how odd it iS.’
Powell's first return to the theatre since Sherlock Holmes, The Musical five years ago, Kind Hearts is an enormous physical challenge, requiring massive concentration from both leading actors. in the film, Mazzini’s voiceover tells the story of his life on the eve of his execution. On stage, as he narrates, his story comes to life around him. Characters come and go, but Mazzini remains onstage throughout the show's two hours, while Colin Baker (a former Dr Who) takes the quick-change Guinness role, playing all the d'Ascoynes.
Better known as Jasper Carrot's sidekick in The Detectives (and of course as the star of Zefferelli’s Jesus Of Nazareth), Powell says that television work might be easier than playing night after night, but it doesn't deliver the kick of appearing in front of an appreciative audience. And so far, audiences have been very appreciative. 'Two men in their early twenties came up to me in the pub after the show last night, and said it was wonderful,’ Powell recalls. 'It was the first time they had ever been to the theatre. I'm delighted my judgement to do this was correct.’ (Gabe Stewart)
Heir, apparently: Robert Powell with Jennifer Calvert in Kind Hearts And Coronets