Edinburgh: Assembly Rooms, Wed 17—Fri 19 Nov.
John Major ran away from the circus only to become the nation's ringmaster. With the revelation of his humble beginnings, came the cynical view that British politics was little more than a circus turn. Indeed, wherever we see collective, absurd behaviour, the word 'circus' comes to mind. Alive to the connotations of the word, Spencer Hazel's new play for innovative Scottish theatre company Boilerhouse, takes Britain as its big top — 'Rule Britannia, Cool Britannia, Fool Britannia'. Roll up! Roll up! Circus Britannia is coming to town!
Intrigued by the possibilities of using the traditional circus model as a metaphor for modern Britain, Hazel, a performer turned writer, is prompted by actor turned director, Peter Grimes, into explaining his initial motivation for writing the play. 'Tell the “window story",’ he cajoles Hazel, who dutifully picks up a beer mat from the table. ‘If this said "circus", you could hold it up to
’ ‘ it I‘
My baby just scares for me: Circus
the window and watch the whole world go by,’ explains Hazel. ’lt's interesting seeing the world through that framework.’
Seeing the world as performance, Hazel then began to consider the possibilities of exploring, in a dramatic form, what goes on behind the scenes. 'T he play looks at the differences between the official identity of Britain at the turn of the century and the real experiences of living here. It’s showing the two sides of the coin - the gleaming side that we all see and then the grimy side, or as it turns out, the Hazel and Grimes side.’
The characters in the play are correspondingly taken from the fringes of the circus ring; a shit shoveller, an escapologist who hasn't pulled off an escape in fourteen years, the understudy to the trapeze artist and a stiltwalker who can only rise a foot above the ground. Grimes explains-that in choosing the actors ‘we
deliberately didn’t cast circus performers'. _
They have, however, cast aerialist/actor Philippa Vafadari, last seen during this year’s Fringe in Pussy Galore’s Flying Circus. Grimes describes the cast - which also includes Judith Aitken, a regular performer for Boilerhouse, Sean Hay and New Zealand actors Jason Whyte and Johanna Vegas - as 'a great mish-mash of people coming from different experiences, different countries and social classes.’
In the spirit of its model, Circus can also claim to be fun for all the family. As Grimes points out: 'lt's sad, it's funny. It's not exclusive, elitist theatre. If you want to take certain metaphors from it then you can. If you want to follow these characters through a journey then you can.’ Promising death-defying acting and mesmerising physical spectacle, Circus will have its audience clapping like performing seals. (Catherine Bromley)
Apocalypse, how'I: The End Part One 60 THE LIST 4-18 Nov 1999
The End Part One
Glasgow: The Arches, Thu 1 l—Sat 27 Nov.
According to Andy Arnold, director of The End Part One, there are some things they just don't teach you at school. Albert Einstein, for example, managed to keep his flamboyant double life as a rollerblade choreographer hidden from the public eye. It's also a little known fact that pioneering radiologist, Marie Curie, was a rug-cutting dance-floor diva in her spare time. So, if the explanation that The Spanish Civil War had more to do with cricket than politics was something you missed out on in history class, then The End could make you look at the major events of the past century a little differently . . .
‘lt's satire but it's also a celebration of theatre,’ insists Arnold. 'We’ve included every element — trapeze
artists, rollerskating, ballet dancing, clowns. There is some grotesque, absurdist theatre but there are also some darker, more thoughtful moments, and hopefully, some beautiful ones too.’
So, it's not all fun and games - behind the farcical facade, The End Part One is a serious critique of 20th century values.
’lt’s kind of a pause for thought as we approach the Millennium; while advancing technologically we've also developed the ability to destroy ourselves. As we reach the year 2000 we seem to be teetering on a precipice.’
Not content with merely re-writing the history of modern civilisation, Arnold plans to make theatrical history, with the second part of the series showing at exactly one second into 2000; officially the first theatre performance of the new Millennium. (Olly Lassman)
Re: treading the boards
ALL AT THE LIST send our sympathies to the family and many friends of Sharman Weir, the much- loved General Manager of the Citizens' Theatre, who died unexpectedly on 22 October. The Citizens' company were devastated at her loss, cancelling the opening night of Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf as a gesture of commemoration. Ms Weir, who was 40, died in childbirth, a particularly tragic circumstance, which has hit the company very hard. She will be much missed at the Citizens’, and by the general Scottish theatre community, a small one which feels IOSSes of this kind keenly. We hope that it is of some consolation to her family that she is survived by her baby, who is in good health.
THE PETER DARRELL Trust has announced the winners of its second Peter Darrell Choreographic Award. Jan De Schynkel, formerly of Nederlands Dans Theatre 2, currently with Rambert and BARAK, and Liz Roche, who has worked widely in the dance world, but is best known for her years at Dance Theatre Of Ireland are the beneficiaries. They will each create new pieces, working with Scottish Dance Theatre, who will perform the new work in Jan 2000.
THE HARD WORK and conscientiousness of Kenn Burke, Assistant Artistic Director of Scottish Ballet has been rewarded by a nomination for a Barclay's Theatre Award. Cited in the nomination are his revival of Peter Darrell’s Cinderella and his programming during the period, from Nov 1997 to Aug 1999, when the company was without an Artistic Director. The nomination seems appropriate to the man, who with typical modesty, credits the company for this success. The winner of the Award will be announced on 7 Nov, and we wish him the best of luck. His replacement at Scottish Ballet, Sheri Cook, wife of Artistic Director Robert North, has taken up her new position, and the dance community awaits the first collaboration between this team with eager anticipation.
Liz Roche: award winner