Nation’s youth urged to make a difference

TAG Theatre Company director James Brining takes a deep breath and says, ‘Making The Nation is a three-year theatre and particrpatory drama project aimed at actively engaging young people in Scotland wrth the democratic process, coinCiding with the launch of the Scottish Parliament. There, I think that covers everything' This bold and broad mission statement is the starting point for an ambitious programme of events which Will take TAG into the new Millennium.

Brining recalls how the idea first took shape. ‘Maybe it was something to do with the massive political sea change going on in Scotland,’ he says, ’but I suddenly found that all of the projects I was considering were political in some respect.’ !t soon became apparent that there was a way to co-ordinate touring theatre productions and educational programmes under one banner to the benefit of TAG’s target market. ’Our ' audience is made up largely of young people, and I felt we had a responsibility as a company to engage them in what was happening in their country,’ Brining conUnues

Funded by an impressive £100,000 Lottery grant, the pr0ject begins With a pared down but defiantly Shakespearian version of Julius Caesar which will tour to primary schools.

’lt looks at how we organise ourselves, and what we would do With a despotic leader,’ says Brining. But what of the difficulties of presenting 16th century verse to the under- elevens? 'For me there are four central characters in the play Brutus, Mark Anthony, Caesar and Cassius, but there's also a fifth, the crowd. The primary school classes will be playing the crowd,’ he says. 'Many of the schools we go to will be used as Polling Stations in May I love the idea of people’s

Revitalising the body politic: James Brining

parents coming to vote one day and then seeing one of the greatest political tragedies ever created the next.’

Running concurrently with the Roman play is the Sense Of Community scheme. Brining explains: ’This involves five classes from all over Scotland inventing their own system of government. They’ll interview MSPs and councillors and use the internet for research, and eventually we’ll create a website showing their ideas.’

These are just the first two strands of Making The Nation, which will ultimately involve young people right across Europe. 'I think we’ll find that people are very similar, but that the differences which do exist are worth celebrating,’ says Brining. (Rob Fraser)

Fringe names Strong’s successor

New directions: Paul Gudgin

Two months of speculation and rumour finally ceased at the end of February when it was announced that Paul Gudgin, currently general manager at the Queen’s Hall, w0u|d succeed Hilary Strong as director of the Edinburgh Fringe. Paul spoke to The List about the kerfuffle that’s ensued Since the moment he learned he was what those recrUitment ads call ’the Successful candidate'

’It's been extraordinary. You suddenly realise just how important the Fringe is by virtue of the interest in the fact that you’ve got the job,’ he said, clearly surprised at the deluge of requests for interviews and photocalls. Although the position is a prominent one and its demands are many, Gudgin feels his task should be approached in as straightforward a way as possrble. ’Basically, it’s running the Fringe as a company. The job that the Fringe does is to serve as an umbrella organisation for all the visiting companies: the job of director is to make sure that runs as

smoothly as possible for all the performers and audiences involved.’

The 35-year-old has no intention of retreating into his HQ once the summer hoopla begins, preferring instead to get a first hand take on as many shows as p055ible. ’I don't think you can bury yourself in your office, you need to get out there and see what’s happening. It’s the best way to get a true picture.’

Gudgin clearly owes his new job to the success he made of the old one. ln recent years, the Queen’s Hall’s profile has risen, bringing in top draw acts from the worlds of comedy (Lenny Henry and Rory Bremner have both played at the venue) and music (Spiritualized and Nick Cave). And at Festival time, Gudgin has presrded over record attendances. ’Because the Queen’s Hall is a Fringe and an International Festival venue, I’ve got a grasp of both and an overall sense of the issues involved in Edinburgh.’

(Rob Fraser)

The Scottish Inquisition

Questions you don’t expect. This issue: John Harding, Manager, Paisley Arts Centre.

Tabloid or Broadsheet?

The Observer for Mrs Blair’s Diary and Andrew Rawnsley, Guardian during the week, Hera/d arts page.

First arts related job?

Running a free arts magazine in Dundee called Street Life. A good time with great bands (remember Joe Public?) and brilliant theatre from Alan Lyddiard and Neil Muray at the Rep. Career highlight?

My first radio feature being broadcast on Radio Scotland.

The award for a Lifetime contribution to Scottish Culture goes to?

Dudley D Watkins the man behind The Broons and Oor Wu/Iie

Name a work of art you cannot live without. ..

Pierre et Giles photos. Great art, great fun, great photo of Jeff Stryker hanging in my kitchen.

You're about to be exiled - how would you spend your last night? Party with my pals at Bar 91, then silly dancing at the Polo Lounge. Then somehow make our way to Dundee and sit on Law Hill watching the sunrise.

What motion would you make as an MSP?

To move the Parliament. The Central Belt doesn't need the congestion and there’s a whole lot more to Scotland. Dundee would be a fine choice.

Top Scot of the new Millennium? Just has to be Donald Dewar.

What should be in the Millennium dome?

Amongst others, Fura del Baus, Cas Public, Frantic Assembly, KAOS UK, Angela Brown, fecund theatre, theatre cryptic . . .

How do you see Scotland‘s future? Looking to its Cultural industries to celebrate a new confidence in our own identity.

(Compiled by Rob Fraser)

4—18 Mar 1999 THE LIST 21