Glasgow: The Arches Tue 6—Sat 24 Apr.
Not many theatre directors invite journalists in to watch plays at the rehearsal stage, but the Arches gaffer Andy Arnold and his cast are relaxed enough to do just that, and The List was given a sneak preview of their forthcoming production, The Caretaker.
Such self confidence proves wholly justified, as the actors (Paul Riley, Andrew Dallmeyer and Ross Stenhouse) set about their work with great skill and intelligence, bringing the down and out Davies and siblings Aston and Mick to vivid life. What shines through most, is the esteem in which they hold the source material - a feeling entirely apparent even before they burst into a rousing chorus of 'one Harold Pinter: there's only one Harold Pinter.’ For Arnold and Dallmeyer, the piece takes care of some unfinished business stretching back to a previous production of the same play in 1992. ’We always vowed to do it again because last time we were completely penniless,’ recalls the director. 'We only rehearsed for two weeks and it was a fairly fraught production. Now we've got a bit of funding, and the added stimulus of Paul and Andrew having done The Dumb Waiter last year. We knew they had the right chemistry and could do Pinter, and that gave us something to build on.’
Riley too relished the opportunity of tackling another of the great man’s works. ‘lt‘s the challenge of it. He seems to have written three of the most bizarre characters on earth, and then put them in the same room,’ he says. 'They contradict themselves not page by
Playing Harry's game: Dallmeyer in The Caretaker
page, not scene by scene, but line by line. And that's what makes it exciting to act in and watch - you can‘t just let this wash over you, you have to stay focussed the whole time.’ His stage brother Stenhouse agrees that it's the complexity and ambiguity of the writing which make the play a dynamic experience for cast and audience alike. ’I can approach a scene or character in one way, but at the same time realise there are five or six other interpretations that are equally valid.’
'These people don’t exist outside of the play, we see them in that room but know absolutely nothing else about them,’ adds Arnold. ’That’s what makes them so fascinating, they leave questions unanswered.’(Rob Fraser)
composer Laurie Anderson, ’l knew that Laurie was interested in the sea and storms because I was aware of her own opera, Moby Dick. The approach we took, together with (noted performance artist) Rose English was to make an art piece. It’s The Tempest as a psychic world, as reflected through the mind of this being called Prospero.‘
Purists may well feel that the avant garde style undermines the stature of the original, but Phillipou feels that an over reverential attitude makes for uninspired theatre. 'We don’t have sense of the false sanctity of the text
AVANT GARDE BARD The Tempest
Stirling: MacRobert Art Centre Wed l4—Fri 16 Apr (Paisley date sold out). Despite suffering the after effects of transatlantic travel, Actors Touring Company director Nick Philippou is in ebullient mood as he chats to The List about the forthcoming Scottish dates for The Tempest. The reason for both the jet lag and the cheerfulness lay in Phillipou havmg secured a New York Theatre Workshop run for the outfit’s previous production, Mark Ravenhill’s
56 THE lIST l—lSApr 1999
A storming performance: The Tempest
Handbag. There’s no doubt that their shows in Stirling and Paisley represent an opportunity to catch a company in the ascendancy.
'We like to take old plays and redefine them for our time,’ says the director, explaining his decision to interpret Shakespeare's last play. ’l've directed The Tempest twrce before, but I’m constantly drawn back, because it's like a fairground mirror. The play seems to reflect the state of the world in which it is produced ' Philippou also knew that the project would surt an artist he was keen to collaborate with,
which is common With British companres,’ he says. ’Shakespeare is perceived as part of the establishment, but I think he’s a cutting edge writer who deserves cutting edge productions.’ He also clearly believes that his is a Vision of which the bard would have approved: ’I think it’s a piece about the transformative power of Art, about how Art can transform the most terrible lives into beauty,’ he says. 'It seems to me that that was what Shakespeare was saying towards the end of his life — no matter what we go through, Art can make the unbearable bearable.’ (Rob Fraser)
Stage whispers Re: treading the boards
BEACON THEATRE COMPANY hope to set a shining example when their first production opens for a short run at the Cottier this month (Tue 6-Fri 9 Apr). The company’s avowed intention to give youth its head is exemplified by the choice of twenty- year-old Bryn Owen's play Friends in Love, Sex. . . and Death for its debut. Such confidence in new talent stems from a desire to create theatre which will seduce the younger audience away from TV and the pleasures of the PlayStation. The piece centres on a group of twentysomethings whose Hogmanay celebrations turn murderoust sour. Just how the six million dollar man becomes involved remains to be seen, but Beacon promise Steve Austin's influence on proceedings will make itself apparent.
FIGHT OR FLIGHT, one of Scotland's most innovative contemporary dance outfits returns to the creative fray this month with a typically ambitious project. Liquid Oxygen sees video artist Chris Dooks collaborate with composer Quee MacArthur and choreographers Jane Howie and Malcolm Shields. Dooks teaches in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and has recently returned from a six month residency in California, where he filmed Native American rock art.
ROBERT LEPAGE'S MANY admirers will no doubt be delighted to learn that Geometry of Miracles isn't the only new work of his they‘ll get to see this year. The acclaimed theatre director has a flourishing second career as a movie auteur, and his latest film N6 opens in Glasgow and Edinburgh this month. The film is loosely based on the director’s own epic play The Seven Streams of Ota, and takes place Japan and Canada in 1970. (See review, page??). The man himself will make a rare public appearance at Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, Glasgow on Fri 2 Apr at 12.30pm. Tickets are free but reservation is essential. Call Tramway Hotline on 0141 287 3900.
ACTRESS SIOBHAN REDMOND, fresh from her starring role in the sell out tour of Perfect Days, will guest with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra at their concerts in Perth, Glasgow and Edinburgh this month (see Classical Music listings). Siobhan, currently to be seen on television in the ITV drama series Every Woman Knows A Secret, will perform readings from A Midsummer Night’s Dream to accompany the SCO's renditions of Mendelssohn’s incidental music.
Strange bedfellows: Beacon theatre company