playwriting is a mystery, then the collaborative effort of ‘devising’ a piece is an enigma. Who does what? How can a disparate group of individuals find a common voice? How do actors react when asked to build a character from scratch? What. ultimately, is it all about? The Suspect Culture team reveal the inspiration, machination and perspiration required to transform a set of thoughts, themes and intuitions into a coherent theatrical experience. Not to mention the problems of verisimilitude created by the humble windscreen wiper.

David Greig, writer: ‘lt’s a very difficult show to talk about. It can’t be encapsulated . _ in a paragraph. lt’s Kate D'd‘m

not trying to do anything or tell people anything. When I was writing the text I tried to make every scene as understated as possible no dramatics. I suppose, if anything, it’s about wanting someone else to really know who you are.

‘It’s been encouraging that when people read the script or watch rehearsals the play seems to resonate for them at a very personal emotional level. People appear to find it moving. If the show works, it’ll be because the audience find their own stories in it. It’ll be about them.’

Kate Dickie, actor:

‘When Graham said there would be four of us playing two characters and constantly swapping roles, I thought he was raving. But I was really intrigued that neither character would be gender specific and so there wouldn’t be the usual male/female stereotypes

'You're playing a story about two people who have this bizarre sexual encounter and sometimes it's 'a man you're with, sometimes it's a woman.’

ae Dickie cast


Scotland's most innovative theatre company return with a bold new production. Here, writer DAVID GREIG and his SUSPECT CULTURE cohorts give The List an exclusive insight into the creation of Mainstream.

Words: Suspect Culture & Rob Fraser Images: Patrick Macklin

of behaviour. It seemed a refreshing idea. Also I was just dead curious about how we’d do it. You’re playing a story about two people who have this bizarre sexual encounter and sometimes it’s a man you’re with. sometimes it’s a woman. You have to find your own way through each scene.

‘lt’s been clearer and easier than I expected. Although we have our individual performances you really have to be aware of what the other actors doing mannerisms. tone of voice, the subtleties of their characterisation. You pick up on what the actor before you is doing and take that forward.’ Graham Eatough, director: ‘Mainstream isn’t just the story of what happens when two characters meet over a weekend in a seaside hotel. It’s lots of possible-stories about what might happen. Right from the start of this project I’ve been trying to show on stage the different ways in which the same initial situation can develop: how the smallest thing that a person might or might not say or do at any given point in a conversation can send a relationship off onto a completely different path.

‘A character throws a peanut up into the air to catch it in their mouth. In one universe they miss the peanut, they’re a bit embarrassed, they try to retrieve the situation with a story. The story is inadvertently revealing. The other character feels drawn to them. The whole situation leads to. . . well, sex. In another universe they decide, at the last second, not to throw the peanut. They carry on talking about what they were talking about and perhaps in that universe they go to bed alone.’

Nick Powell, composer:

‘l’ve been trying to make a score out of found sounds satellite beeps. electrical static, ice cracking. fridge hums. The starting point for the music comes from the idea of parallel universes and time shifting between them. There’s part of the story where a character describes being trapped in a car in a blizzard. I wanted the sound of windscreen wipers. l was in rehearsal when I wanted to try this out so I recorded the wipers on the Suspect Culture van. The thing is real windscreen wipers don’t sound like windscreen wipers at all. They sound more like a heartbeat. If you want people to recognise windscreen wipers you need to get a sound effect from the BBC.’

Mainstream receives its world premiere at the MacRobert, Stirling on February 19, then tours Scotland. See Theatre Listings for details.

Nick Powell musw

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18 Feb—4 Mar 1999 THE lIST17