NEW THEATRE Gateway Theatre Edinburgh: Season opens mid Oct.
Every year, shortly after the opening of the Scottish theatre season, regular theatre-goers in Glasgow have been given the opportunity to spot future talent by attending the RSAMD season, where gifted young performers, directors and technicians make early use of their skills. Edinburgh audiences, however, have found it more difficult to access the rising stars of the East Coast, for the simple reason that the drama department of Queen Margaret University College has been located at Costorphine, in the capital's outer suburbs. The perusal of cast biographies in the average theatre programme would indicate that there’s no shortage of talent coming from the studio theatres located in this leafy suburb, but few have been given the kind of preview which Glasgow audiences have come to expect.
This situation will change this month, with the opening of the newly refurbished Gateway Theatre complex on Leith Walk. The first student production, an adaptation of Beowulf pencilled in for 14 Oct, followed shortly after by Brian Friel’s Freedom Of The City represent a major step in bringing an audience to student theatre, and realises a plan first mooted in 1996, and brought about by part lottery and part private funding. John Stone, Director of the new theatre, explains the implications: ’T he audience at Corstorphine was very defined. It was composed mainly of friends and family of the students, and the college audience — students and staff. The audience at this location is quite different.’
The new auditoriums are in development: ’T he theatre, when fully developed, will provide us with a 200 seat proscenium theatre and a 90 seat studio theatre,’ Stone comments. ’Even in our current configuration, with 120 seats, we’re open to the public. There’ll be twelve major productions this year, and these are the principal means of eXamining our acting and stage management
John Stone: Director of Gateway Theatre
students, so you can sit in on a genuine degree examinationl’
But what kind of theatre should audiences expect? ’We’ve got a programme which incorporates everything from classical Greek tragedy, through to Shakespeare and on to contemporary work. There’s some emphasis in modern Scottish writing, and a Christmas show.’ The benefits for local audiences are not simply aesthetic, but financial. Stone comments: ’lt's part of the remit to provide cheap tickets. Our top price tickets are £5, with standard concessions at £3 and student concessions £2.’
The new complex also provides purpose-built administrative quarters for three professional companies, with Boilerhouse and Universal Arts already in place, and negotiations underway for a third company headquarters. This, in addition to Queen Margaret’s substantial commitment to community theatre and further education programmes, should bring a buzz of creativity to Leith Walk. (Steve Cramer)
Ordering a break away: Andrea Hart in The Woman Destroyed
marriage and babies are her destiny. But rather than finding eternal bliss, she’s plunged into a deep personal crisis.
’The whole thing takes place on New Years Eve,’ explains director Kenny Miller. ’The following day she's about to meet her husband - who’s left her — to try to get back custody of her son. It's about how she gets through her pain that night. She’s angry and needs to get it out of her system before she gets her husband to look at the new her the following day. She needs to get rid of all her demons.’ But Miller explains that this is no tale of weak women: ’She wants her son back and she's going to get revenge for the way she thinks she's been treated.’
After starring in his previous productions of Eva Peron and The Human Voice, Andrea Hart continues her working relationship with Miller. ‘She’s an extremely talented actress,’
The Woman Destroyed Glasgow: Citizens’ Theatre, Wed 20 Oct-Sat 13 Nov.
One of Europe's leading women intellectuals, Simone de Beauvoir is also famed for her literary output,
54 THE LIST 7~21 Oct 1999
which deals with issues such as the construction of female identities and the nature of gender relations. This adaptation of her 1967 novel The Woman Destroyed dramatises one monologue exploring the life of a woman brought up believing that love,
he says, ‘and we work very, very well together. We enjoy feeding off each other.’ Hart may be finding increasing recognition on the
other side of the Atlantic, but it’s good to find her still treading the boards in Glasgow. (Davie Archibald)
THEATRE PREVIEW The Real Inspector Hound and Black
Edinburgh: King's Theatre, Mon ll-Sat 16 Oct.
‘l’ve never experienced anything like it. We get a rolling laugh as every moment tops the one before and, by the end of it the audience are having to hold their sides in.’ Hague's keynote speech at Tory conference? No, director David Grindlay is describing the last ten minutes of Peter Shaffer’s wildly exuberant Black Comedy, currently touring with Tom Stoppard’s satirical The Real Inspector Hound.
Although occasionally coupled in rep, this is the first time these two 605 classics have run together on quite this scale. ‘Theatrically they work brilliantly together,’ says Grindlay. 'Hound is a piece of verbal comedy full of innuendo and sleights of linguistic hand. It's all about wordplay and witticisms, whereas Black Comedy is visual and more immediate.’
In Hound, critics comment on a pastiche of an Agatha Christie whodunnit, and on an acting style best described as Noel Coward from the head up. Stoppard’s play is a whimsical verbal farce which experiments with realism, bringing the two stage critics into the action, and mocking them, while at the same time questioning the conventions of the genre. Ultimately, a good deal of fun is had at the expense of both critics and actors in a play whose intelligence predates the earnest right-wing ramblings of the modern Stoppard.
Shaffer’s play is also quite different from what audiences who have seen Equus might expect. Slapstick and physicality is the order of the day, as a young man's amorous intentions are foiled by dodgy electrics and the usual farcical unexpected visitors. Black Comedy’s premise is that when the lights are on, the characters are in a blackout, but when the theatre goes dark, their faulty fuse has been fixed. An electrician gains access from a trapdoor, which becomes hugely significant in the play’s denouement - quite the crowning moment. ’In London the trap door’s in the same place every night but on the road it’s literally all over the place! So the poor actor who has to work with the trap, literally takes his life in his hands!’ (Gabe Stewart)
Phonemic humour: Sonya Wolger in Black Comedy