Fed up watching soap opera in your own living room? Now a Glasgow company wants you to watch one in someone else's. The List gets domestic with CITIZONE.
\‘i’orcs: Jack Mottram
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR LIVING ROOM? You might be that rare exception who whiles away the hours in a Sunday supplement fantasy of Prada backgammon sets and curly—topped infants nibbling on an organic carrot. Chances are. however. that the biggest room in your house is given over to the television. and your living room life is
a post-work slump on the sofa fill] of
soapy wonderings about vigilante action against hapless Sinbad. lithel and l)ot‘s euthanasia dilemma and Ken Barlow's sinister hair.
With this in mind. Headspace Productions has claimed the lounge as a theatre space. taking TV‘s‘ dominant form out of the box by performing a touring soap operetta in four (ilasgow flats. Bussing the audience on a round trip leaving George Square at (i.3()pm and returning at 1 1pm. the production criss-crosses the city taking in front rooms in Dennistoun. Pollokshields. Hyndland and Bridgeton. The audience sits on the floor and the actors do their stuff on the sofa. '\\'e wanted to create something after seeing the application form for the Lord Provost Millennium Scheme.‘ explains ('ilimm' co-producer and live soap star (‘ora Bissett. ‘llaving lived in umpteen tenement flats in (ilasgow. it seemed crazy that these great big living rooms weren‘t getting used for something other than lounging around and watching the telly. .-\nd the obvious type of theatre that goes on in living rooms is soap opera. which was the idea we took to the Scottish liilmmakers and Screenwriters Network. who put us in touch with new writing talcnt.'
Instead of concocting a suburban melodrama in the style of their televisual inspiration. Bissett and fellow producer Sarah Barr set off with a video camera to round tip characters. anecdotes and tall tales from around (ilasgow. 'lt’s not an entirely original idea to have theatre going on in people’s houses.' Bissetl says. ‘so we wanted to source stories from a totally
broad mixture. We went around loads of
different community groups. from single mothers‘ groups. liastcrhouse drama groups and a girls' secure unit
14 THE LIST 2-1 / Sci: 293:)
out in .-\yr to the people in bars who always have great stories to tell. This meant we had access to lots of different age groups and social strata. just to get funny anecdotes from across the board.'
Although they abandoned standard soap themes in favour of tales drawn from closer to home. Bissett and Barr stuck to the production methods common to television. using a different writer for each of the four episodes. ‘\\'e stuck to the soap opera method of writing.. Bissett continues. ‘\\'e‘d spoken to people who write for TV. about the way there‘s a bible that‘s passed on with all the characters‘ histories and all that. so we did a microcosm version. condensing the whole process. Sarah. myself and two of the writers storylined the whole thing. Using the anecdotes as raw material then ran these skeletons of plot past the writers and got them to do an episode each.‘
:\s well as drawing inspiration from a telly staple. ('iI/mm' further crosses the line dividing standard theatre enterprises and the close—up invasions of the goggle-box. Barr. with the hpr of (ilasgow Media Access ('entre. is making a documentary to record the process and production of the plays. The intimate
'The enjoyment of smaller spaces and having people so close is that you can allow yourself so much detail and subtlety with tiny little expressions and fluctuations'
Sarah Barr and Cora Bissett prepare for some close-up soap
environs of the lounge setting. too. should make for blurred boundaries between theatre and TV acting .
‘I find it a very exciting prospect.‘ says Bissett. ‘which maybe stems from being in various bands over the years. where you have an audience twenty centimetres away from you. I like that direct contact. and it's something I really enjoy in the theatre as well. Big spaces can be extremely exciting too — but the enjoyment of smaller spaces and having people so close is that you can allow yourself so much detail and subtlety with tiny little expressions and fluctuations that can easily get lost in a bigger theatre space. It's something people are very accustomed to seeing on TV. but that is difficult to get across on stage.’
(ii/tune is a unique chance to see a real soap unfold before your eyes. with authentic sitting rooms in place of wobbly plywood. and (ilasgow stories in the stead ofoverblown mini— tragedies.
Citizone, The Glasgow Live Soap Opera runs from Tue 29 Aug to Sat 2 Sep. Buses for the first living room venue leave George Square at 6.30pm. For more information, and to reserve tickets, call 0141 334 2012.