Krapp's Last Tape
Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Wed 8—Sat ll
Nov. I'm sitting alone in a room listening
to a tape recorder. I'm hearing a conversation between myself, Scottish theatre legend Russell Hunter, and director John Yule. The conversation happened yesterday afternoon, and I’m reflecting upon it. Did they really say that? What shall I select from a 45 minute conversation to convey its nature to you? And, for the thousandth time, my God, does my voice sound that awful?
These dilemmas (well, perhaps not the last one) and more are very much those of Samuel Beckett’s modern classic. Self-reflexiveness, subjectivity, language, memory and our need to communicate our thoughts to others, even to ourselves, are all in the text. Hunter’s account of this piece about an isolated old man listening to tapes of himself many years before incorporates this changeability. ’Every time you see another actor do it, it’s like reading it again,‘ he says. 'You'll find different things, sometimes shocking things. Because we're like Krapp, we remember good times, sometimes bad times, but we’re always selective about what we choose to remember and we remember different things each time we think back.’
Yule adds that this play of lost love, missed chances and memory has a biographical element: 'This is a play about a man who made a choice 30 years before we see him to neglect love for work. I think it is Beckett, who left Ireland to dedicate himself to his work. We can relate to it, because here, at the millennium, we’re all making choices we have to live with.’
The self-imposed isolation of this old man is relevant to our own atomised culture. 'In this day and age, a lot
"I . n} ‘0 z 1'} . ‘4. F": I} Russell Hunter promises a memorable Krapp at the Tron
of people decide they're only going to live for themselves,’ says Hunter. 'They’ll bear no responsibility for anyone else, they won’t decide what’s morally right or wrong.’ But he also points to the paradox of Krapp's isolation in the theatre: 'I think he’s relevant to now. I think his aloneness is something we can feel, but we can only find it as part of an audience. Actually, it's something we can share.’
This elder statesman of Scottish theatre shows a willingness to dig deep for the role: 'You have to relate things to your own life. There are memories about love I’m going to have to find, they’re all there, sometimes they'll be great, and sometimes painful. Krapp says "Today is my 39th birthday" on one tape. I wish I'd recorded a few things when l was 39. l was a very lucky guy at the time, but I didn't realise it.’
Well said, Russell. There are things I wish I'd done differently when l was 37, and I'm not 38 yet.
Of scabies and men: Howie The Rookie
Rookie. ’It’s an epic western and a Greek tragedy told with great storytelling technique by two Dublin |ads,' explains director Mike Bradwell. ’It’s got all those great themes in it like honour and nemesis, Violence, sex, death, love.’
Much as that seems to just about cover it, does it explain the unanimously gob-smacked audience reaction? ’People love good storytelling and Howie The Rookie carries people along with the narrative,’ continues Bradwell. ’There's one point in the second half when there’s a particularly Tarantino-like climax. I’ve known entire audiences to hide their eyes and look away. What happens is pretty horrible but there's nothing to see and they daren’t look.’
Howie The Rookie
Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Tue lA—Sat 18 Nov.
Having taken the Fringe by storm in 1999, won awards left, right and centre (and we're talking quality: Herald Angels, Fringe Firsts, Irish Times New Play Award) and then set the London theatre scene aflame, the Bush
88 THE lIST 2—l6 Nov 2000
Theatre’s production of Mark O’Rowe's Howie The Rookie is finally on tour and stopping by at Glasgow’s Tron Theatre.
This hard-hitting rampage through Dublin’s seedier establishments features two characters, Home and The Rookie. The action kick-starts when HOWie sleeps on a scabies- infected mattress and then seeks to soothe his irritation by wreaking
revenge on the origin of the itch, The .
The set for Howie The Rookie has ,
won its designer Es Devlin awards. ’It’s visually quite simple but quite stunning,’ says Bradwell. 'The design, the lighting, everything goes along with the telling of the tale, no pyrotechnics, no songs, just pure storytelling in the present tense.’ In short, if you missed it at the Edinburgh Fringe, now’s your chance!
Re: heading the boards THE LOSS OF Stephen Barry, general
; manager and chief executive of
Edinburgh King’s and Festival Theatres can only be called a major blow both personally and professionally to the Scottish theatre. Barry, who died on Wednesday 18 October built up a highly professional organisation, providing programming and administration of the first order to
- two large theatres. Appointed to the
Festival Theatre January 1997, Barry presided successfully over a merger with the King's to provide a comprehensive and high quality arts programme over subsequent years.
Barry's great qualities of organisation and artistic vision emerged from his long-term involvement at all levels of the arts, having worked on both the creative and administrative levels of the profession. As a member of the Dance Panel of the Arts Council of England, and the boards of Scottish Ballet and Scottish Opera, Barry's experience will be widely missed in the arts world.
But the greater loss is the personal one. Barry was a man you never heard ill-report of, widely admired by colleagues and peers. My own dealings with him were limited, but on the occasions that we spoke, I found him open, friendly and generous with his time, a view borne out by many who knew him better. He leaves a wife, Jackie, and two children, Tom and Anya. Our sympathies are extended to them, and his wide circle of friends.
THE TRAVERSE THEATRE’S yearly schools programme, Class Act Will culminate in free public performances at the theatre on 15 and 16 November. This yearly event is the product of an outreach programme that takes in four local schools and, this year, 63 students, who between them have produced 29 short plays. With such talent as John Binnie, Nicola McCartney, DaVid Greig and Louise Ironside involved on the development side, we hope that these young people show talent that might prove frUitful to both themselves and the theatre in future years. Perhaps yOu'll be the first to spot new theatre faces if you can get along.
Stephen Barry: A great loss to Scottish theatre.