preview THEATRE

NEW PLAY Blue Heron In The


Glasgow: Tron Theatre, Thu 21—Sat 30 May.

Siblings were invented for playing Batman and Robin and enjoying varying degrees of rough n’ tumble. But in his new show, Ian Rowlands noises things up further by presenting twin sisters who share the same lover. The show has its premiere this fortnight, presented by Welsh company Theatr Y Byd in association with the Tron.

Ooh, there’s bound to be tears, not to mention fur flying. A family who've fought hard to construct a veneer of respectability find their foundations threatened as they gather for a funeral. It's a day of heightened emotions: it's been a year since the child of one of the twins died. Guilt, blame and petty resentments bubble beneath the surface and the dirty laundry looks set to get a very painful airing.

'Through this fairly average family I’m looking at how men appropriate women and nature through language,’ explains Rowlands, who is also directing the show. ’The family are full of oppression and oppressed because of the patriarchal society they live in.’

It’s the women, and particularly the twins, who get caught up in the catfights, but it’s largely the blokes who are to blame. The dad is overly possessive; and the fellow he deems not good enough for his daughter has in fact been knobbing both sisters. Soap opera stuff, or what?

Partly inspired by strong protective feelings towards his own daughters, Rowlands wrote the piece as a warning to himself. ’It looks at the way men want to control and shape their daughters, so obviously the

Sisters aren‘t doing it for each other: Blue Heron In The Womb

whole Oedipal thing comes in to that.’

While excited about the premiere, Rowlands is all too aware of the pressure on him following the award- winning success of his play Marriage Of Convenience, which visited Edinburgh and Glasgow last year.

While less overtly concerned with nationalism this time around, he unavoidably comes at his themes from a Welsh perspective. Integral to Blue Heron is a condemnation of the 'parochial, paternalistic, reactionary attitudes' Rowlands sees as lingering on in his home country. ’These negative attitudes have really held us back,’ he believes, ’but I'm hopeful that maybe now with the new Assembly we can get rid of them at last. I feel a new spirit in my country, an inspiring sense of growing and maturing.’

With the recent stirrings in the Welsh music and arts scene, Rowlands gleefully concludes, 'Hopefully we can sustain the current interest in Wales, and in that case, fuck it let's exploit it.’ (Claire Prentice)



Busking it: stage-manager turned director David O'Neill

From a theatrical point of view, the texts we’ve chosen to do are intellectually challenging, and are not popularly done, For The Busker, we needed someone who could play the gUitar really well for the title role, and we've got Mark Price, who’s a real musician, for the half—dozen songs in the play.’

Price's eponymous string-twanger is iomed by the Lady (Amanda Sykes, another former SM) and the Ponce (Paul Cunningham). 'The piece is basically about people on the street surViVing on a daily basis,’ O'Neill explains. ’The Busker's music is something he creates, something of

The Busker

Glasgow: Citizens’ Circle Studio, Tue 26—Sat 30 May.

All theatregoers are familiar with the final ritual of a play we applaud the actors, the director, and sometimes even the writer. But not often is the stage-manager acknowledged the anonymous, toilsome, much put-upon figure behind the scenes. SM is the frequent abbreViation for these figures, and this seems appropriate, since they often have to live on a diet of other people's sadism, and their own

David O’Neill is currently in the process of transition from this JOb to the more revered post of director. With a group of friends, he has created the Theatre In Action company, whose third production is a reVivaI of James Kelman’s 1979 comedy-drama With mUSIC.

'I've spent thirteen years as a professional stage-manager,’ says O’Neill, ‘and I’ve wanted to direct for a number of years. This company has Created the opportunity. We’re trying to do things with challenging texts.

himself, but for the Ponce it's about making a buck, ducking and diving. There's artistic integrity on one side and the need to make money on the other. The play asks us questions about when the artist stops being about "me" and starts being about money.‘ For all this, O’Neill insists on an understated, not too preachy approach to the text. ’The comedy comes out of the situation,’ he explains. 'The humorous elements are something for the audience to see, rather than the actors to play up.’ (Steve Cramer)

Stage whispers

News of the cues.

THE QUEST FOR recognition - and work has led a group of Scottish actors to mount a unique showcase. Calling themselves The Scottish Actors Initiative (SAI), thirteen professional actors have devised a 75-minute showcase with ’quality control' by established Scottish actress Muriel Romanes. It will be performed to an invited audience of potential employers and other interested parties at the Arches Theatre, Glasgow, on Wednesday 20 May. Two days later, the group performs the show at the Actors Centre in London. 'When you write to a director or casting agent asking for an audition, they often want to see your work first,’ explains SAI’s Sheree Miller. 'But you’re not necessarily cast in a part you want to be seen. This is an opportunity to see a lot of different actors in parts that they’ve chosen.’ Let’s hope potential employers take the bait.

TOTAL DARKNESS sets the scene for Playing In The Dark, 3 nine-week season currently playing at Battersea Arts Centre (BAC). The season - which includes Shakespeare, international work, experiments, comedy and a production of Oedipus by BAC director Tom Morris - also features a new Scottish company, Vanishing Point, with a show called The Sight/e55. This August, The Sightless returns to Scotland to become the first show ever performed in total darkness at the Edinburgh Festival Ffinge.

SENSORY DEPRIVATION of another kind is experienced by Colin McCredie, who stars in the Traverse Theatre Company’s touring . production of Passing Places. At one point in the show, McCredie is ' required to hold his head in a bucket of water for a prolonged period. It seems to have led to some ill effects: during one performance in Dundee, the crew had to keep another bucket handy backstage - the poor lad had to keep nipping backstage to throw up.

Colin McCredie: bleurrrrrggh!

14-28 May 1998 rususr 61