ADAPTATION Myths Of The Near
Future Tramway <02 Govan Swimming Pool, 22—24Jul
The theatre is a difficult place in which to convey processes of the inner-self. Its physicality, its sense of actually being there in the flesh, tends sometimes to focus an audience's perceptions on external detail - sets, actors, designs, and narrative, rather than the internal states of the minds of characters. The capacity of all this detail to
distract an audience from psychological processes is something that theatre practitioners often find
problematical, and seems to present particular dilemmas with the work of JG Ballard, a novelist whose work, through films like Crash, has shown adaptability to the cinema, but not the theatre.
Ballard's dystopian vision often deals with psychological states, and in the novel which forms the basis of this piece, this is particularly in evidence. Here, American society has suffered a collective nervous breakdown - there is a general social and moral collapse at some time after the close of the American space programme, and people wander a derelict country, imagining that this vaguely- remembered event was something they were part of rather than a spectacle largely watched on TV.
Talent pool: Myths Of The Near Future
Into this world steps a man searching for his missing wife, who journeys to the Florida home of NASA as part of his quest, discovering in the process America's Heart of Darkness.
This ambitious Tramway production has met the difficulties implied by the narrative head-on. Producer Donna Rutherford feels that the approach of director Stewart Laing has paid dividends. 'It‘s a very complex story that we're trying to convey. Stewart has emphasised to the actors that he's not interested in character development, and there‘ll be voice over and multi-media techniques to help convey the narrative.‘ Meanwhile the actors, who will be performing in the
unusual but ingenious venue of a derelict swimming pool, will present a succession of vignettes, a series of images less concerned with story than subjective mental states.
Of the swimming pool, Rutherford remarks, ’There's a sense of loss there, a few years back children played and the community came together at this pool, but the council closed it down because it wasn't paying for itself.’ The elegiac sense of a past lost, and an uncertain future is perfectly conveyed by this context, while Ballard's book speaks of abandoned swimming pools as a cogent image of social loss. An evening of thoughtful entertainment is promised. (Steve Cramer)
64 THE usr 22 Jul-S Aug i999
Romeo And Juliet
Stirling: MacRobert Centre. Sat 31 Jul. While it’s always refreshing to see new interpretations of Shakespearian classics, it's nonetheless also reassuring to see them performed in a traditional manner. Although the youngest member of Ballet West is a mere fourteen years old, and the oldest eighteen, they have eschewed the temptation to update the timeless tale of star-crossed lovers and family rivalry, and have instead opted for the old school style.
Prokofiev's challenging and dramatic score has been chosen to accompany the tragic story — the same score used in English National Ballet's production.
This is qurte an ambitious project for dancers so young, but choreographer Terence Etheridge, former artistic director of Hong Kong Ballet, believes that they are more than capable of producing a profe55ional performance. 'I create steps that make them look good,‘ he explains. ’I try and bring out the best in them while still giving them a feeling of youth.’ AlthOUgh this youthful energy is very important to the performance — Shakespeare's Juliet was after all fourteen years old — Etheridge is still conVinced that, at least for the time being, the traditional approach is the best. ’Maybe in afew years we'll do a funked-up verSion,’ he laughs, ‘but I think I'm a bit too old for that.’ (Kirsty Knaggs)
Stage whispers Re: Treading the boards
RECENT DISMAY at the findings of The Audience Business, a body commissioned by the SAC to examine attendance of Scottish theatres, seems to have manifested itself in the media through much negative publicity. The usual speculations about theatre being in terminal decline, which have happened biannually for the last 100 years or so, can be expected as a result. The report stated that ticket prices are perceived to be too high, and that audiences work later than they used to, making it difficult for them to attend.
At least part of the problem could be resolved by scheduling curtain up for later in the evening, but the issue of ticket-pricing is a more vexing one, since it is based on pure myth. A trip to the theatre, unless you're looking at a big production number of the Cats variety, is generally far cheaper than football. A coherent and co-ordinated strategy for making audiences more aware of the relative inexpensiveness of theatre is needed, and more to the point, altering the impression that theatre is a purely middle-class recreation should be paramount. A greater diversity in the make-up of audiences could only be healthy for the theatre.
ON THE SUBJECT of diversity, a great, big raspberry should be directed at the SAC for their failure to support New Scots Theatre Company in their attempt to attract an Asian audience with their project at The Pavilion, Tartan Bhangra. At a time when we should surely be considering the lack of ethnic diversity in Scottish audiences, some support for a talented group of Asian actors might be a wise move, but this doesn't seem to be the reasoning for the Arts Council. Fortunately, a happy ending seems possible, since private funding looks like making up their shortfall.
GOOD NEWS TOO for Cathie Boyd. winner of the European Woman Of Achievement award for her high quality work with Theatre Cryptic. Well deserved plaudits are in line for her and her company, which will be staging a new Electra over the ange.
Dave Anderson: Directing the beleaguered Tartan Bhangras