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Tourin Antonia Bird touched on the issue in

her controversial film Priest. In real life, it was a daily battle for footballer Justin Fashanu. Now the gay and lesbian theatre company Molly’s Collar 8! Tie has added its distinctive voice to the debate on how to reconcile homosexuality with personal religious faith - specifically with Christian faith, given the Western church’s hostility to the gay lifestyle in its latest production Smells And Bells.

Playwright Christopher Deans was inspired to tackle the subject following a series of interviews he conducted with older members of the gay and lesbian community for the company's previous production Molly’s Collar 81 Tie. Struck by the number of times the idea of a spiritual search cropped up, he decided to offer his own perspective through the story of a gay priest who is made a scapegoat by a Scottish cardinal with his eyes on the papacy.

’My view is that people can live with their sexuality and have faith,’ says Deans. 'I wanted the character to find the moment where he can have both these things. I

don‘t want him to reject either.

’I think many gay and lesbian people find a way to insert faith into their lives. Following a gay lifestyle, the way many things are restricted for them, they have to build their own constructs, so in a sense they’re asking many of the questions that you find in orthodox religions. Many people were born into these religions and assumed they’d be accepted in some way, and on the basis of their sexuality they're being told, "no, you can't do what you want to do; you have to follow these



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Lost classic: Glaswegian playwright Ena Lamont Stewart

Bearing his cross: Spencer Gooch as Hans in Smells And Bells

Deans and director Lorenzo Mele, who each had ten

years of theatrical experience before co-founding MCl', have been praised for offering a different perspective on gay theatre, with characters and situations which

depart from the norm.

’You wouldn’t find me using gay characters in a particular way that I think drama has used them,’ says Deans. ’I'm trying to look at the way gay characters can just “be”, without any political agenda. We are politically alert but not in an "everything about gay has to be good" way. I believe the gay community has got to grow up. We have to demand but there's lots of different ways to demand.’ Quality drama being one of the most persuasive methods. (Fiona Shepherd)

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should he revived at the Cif'.’ens'


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don't have ritkets and outside toilets anymore but it's still ai‘. aiiia/inu testament to how you sui‘~.ive at the bottom of the ladder And Illllllt‘ a lot of plays of this kind it's extremer lunnv'

The play .letai's tl‘e struarue for survival of John and I.Iai'iaret Morrison riglatt Costello and Baiiiara Rafferty! and their family, after John made redundant Their (hanue of (rrtuiiistanr'es lead them It, explore other possibilities, not all of them Coincrding With the family's normal moral structure 'When the sOCiaI structure goes wrong, a Ior of the

problems devolve on women,’

(orriments Haverrral 'It's up to them to

keep the family tooether To me, it's a sister play to 141i") And The Pal/cock, a lend or (jlasuow version of O Casey's Duhiir‘.

Stewart's rilay was written in 1947, iiuiiiv: the irrilrlen period of the Clyde at'e, and net ievrved until cheer f Tl-eatre Company (Zilt‘8(‘lil(‘(l it as a ir-st tlaSS't of Stiottish theatre Haverual diretted that produgtie: material ~previously edited out which,


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he feels, alters its structure 'She wrote f

it as a naturalistic play, but it transcends that,’ he explains to do this in a naturalistic way, y0u lose StilllOlllIlltl It's very Brechtian, even thouuh she would never had heard of Brecht There's an epic quality in the inonolooues'

Ultimate v, Haverual believes, it (OHIOS dawn to the simple issue of survival 'It s tI‘e Bretht thing again,’ he argues "'Biead is the first thing, morals follow on " There are no real Villains in this play - it's about the casualities of the situation (Steve Crameri

’If you try

Stage whispers

Focusing the spotlight on the backstage area.

’YOU TALKIN' TO ME?‘ must have been the phrase that entered Lesley- Anne Gair's head. The Glasgow-based actress only went along to help out, but found herself being offered a place to study at New York's famous Actors’ Studio. Established by method acting guru Lee Strasberg, the Studio was attended by such luminaries as De Niro, Pacino, and Brando. After graduating this summer from RSAM D, Glasgow actor Martin John Bristow decided he wanted to follow in their footsteps, and took Gair along as his audition partner. Unexpectedly, both were immediately offered places for a three-year masters degree, starting next August. The drawback? Both have to raise £66,000 before they can accept. Any offers of support will be gratefully received by Bristow (0141 402 4718) or Gair (0141 332 8968).

CLOSER TO HOME, an equally rigorous training is being offered at The Actor's Workshop in Glasgow. ’No audition necessary. Early arrival expected,’ the publicity warns sternly. ’The Actor’s Workshop is a private actor-training workshop whose aim is to introduce a whole new direction to the arts of drama,’ it adds. For further information, contact The Actor's Workshop on 0141 226 5822.

THOSE PREFERRING TO test their comic talents are invited to enter the 1999 Daily Telegraph Open Mic Award, now run in conjunction with the Carlsberg Ice Comedy Network. The Award includes 450 UK-wide heats and ten regional semi-finals, before the Grand Final at next year’s Edinburgh Fringe. This year, the prize is better than ever: £2000 cash, plus bookings on the Carlsberg Ice circuit and at two major overseas comedy events: Montreal's Just For Laughs and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. The award is open to anyone over 16 who has never been paid for a stand-up comedy gig. To enter, send your name, address and daytime telephone number to The Daily Telegraph Open Mic Award, P.O. Box 13048, London WC2H 7BH.

Start spreading the news: Lesley-Anne Gair prepares to give her regards to Broadway

24 Sep—8 Oct I998 'l’llE LIST 55