HAPPENING Jim Haynes Happening Tramway, Glasgow, Thu l—Sat 3 Feb.
Theatrical pioneer and general free spirit Jim Haynes is a towering figure in Scottish theatre history. The founder of the Traverse Theatre is returning to Scotland for a series of happenings, with strictly limited audiences (sixteen per night for three nights) at the Tramway. It's in the nature of these theatrical epiphanies that they can’t be described beforehand, so I talked to Haynes about the glorious early days of the Trav.
The List How did it all get started?
Jim Haynes I started a bookshop in Edinburgh after I arrived in 1956. I date the Traverse from 1960, when I started doing productions at the bookshop. Then I started a place at 369 High Street called The Hough, which lasted a year before my handshake partner ran off with the money. After this, an English farmer friend of mine bought a slum property in the Lawnmarket. He asked me if I could do anything with it and I said I’d take the back four floors. I gave him a shilling a year for rent, but this time | asked for a legal document to prove it. I started recruiting people in '62 and we opened in January '63.
TL What kind of difference did the arrival of the Traverse make to Edinburgh?
1H When I arrived in Edinburgh it was still recovering from the war. There was coal-burning fuel and fog that’d dissolve your hand if you put it out of the window. There were no coffee houses, no restaurants, there was nothing. The Traverse became a place where young people and lots of different people could go. It even had a Sunday licence, so it was the one place in Edinburgh in those days where you could drink on Sunday. It was really a happening place.
TL What about favourite shows?
JH Again, there were so many. I thought Paul Ableman’s play, Green Julia was great, and Heathcote Williams, who I'm still in touch with, presented us with
’You can shout for a pint ‘till you're horse in this bar’
Heathcote Williams’ headscrew, AC/DC. Williams got his start with Jim Haynes
The Local Stigmatic.
TL What was your early experience with happenings?
JH In 1963, John Calder, Kenneth Tynan and l organised a drama conference during the festival to discuss the future of the theatre. 0n the last day, we had a happening where a nude woman was wheeled across an organ gallery in a trolley. There was an explosion about that, because although you were allowed to have nudes on stage, they weren’t allowed to move. We were charged with corrupting public morals, so we argued that the woman didn't move, it was the trolley, and won. But the Lord Provost stepped in and wouldn't let us hold another conference the next year. (Steve Cramer)
of Joyce's work can be performed in mime. For many, the most memorable production so far featured Tam Dean Burn cavorting With a donkey on the Cathkin Braes in 1996. in Past Eve and Adam’s Burns returns to Glasgow to continue his long-term collaboration With DaVIdson.
The production remains chronologically faithful to the serialisation of the novel between 1923 and 1929, but it promises to be no dry adaptation. ’We're domg it in a completely illogical and ridiculous manner,’ says Davrdson. ’We’ve removed all the seating in Tramway One and we’re using 36 tons of top- sorl, eight cases of Gurnness, a trained horse, a chicken and a cat, as well as nine performers. And we’ve even got a clue-givmg Sur-titler.’
Forming part of a ’Wake Weekend’,
THEATRE PREVIEW Past Eve and Adam's
j Tramway, Glasgow, Thu l—Sat 3 Feb.
The task of adapting any novel for the stage can be problematic But when
‘ the novel in question is Joyce’s
Fin/vegans Wake, few directors would relish the thOught of grappling With
62 THE “ST l—lS Feb 2001
the complexities of such a difficult modernist text Yet Process 1028’s Ken Davrdson clearly savours the difficulties presented. 'It gives a space to experiment,’ he says ’I wanted to do it because it was impossible'
This utopian Strivrng has been a hallmark of Process 1028’s preVIOuS work, which has explored how much
With a rarely seen Mary Ellen Bute film and a happening staged by Jim Haynes (see prevrew, above) the production may sound a little on the unUSUal side, but if it replicates the success of preVIouS work, it might Just be one of those strange theatrical events yOu’ll kick yourself for missmg
Caravan Of Lies Tramway, Glasgow Thu 8—Fri 9 Feb.
Three dancers v. hose leotards are past their sell-by date are the starting pOint for Caravan Of Lies, Vincent Dance Theatre’s first ever Tramway production Since i994 the Yorkshire-based company has earned a reputation for creating athletic work of a high standard, but With its latest show it moves in a slightly different direction, creating a highly Visual piece of dance-theatre that tries to find meaning through movement as well as through the sp0ken word
Exploring the frailty of the ageing performer, the company recreates a dilapidated old-style circus ring Ropes line the back of the stage creating a backdrop from which hang a forest of objects illustrating the universe that these performers inhabit. The three dancers are iorned on stage by a compere who's also seen better days. Ternpers fray as the performers find themselves unable to come up With the theatrical goods.
The sense of fragility and failure is integral to the whole piece 'Part of the reason for the clapped-chit nature of the whole thing is because i we are all over 30,’ choreographer/director Charlotte Vincent. ’We’re looking at the pomt at which you stop performing and leave the envuonment that gives you what you've always looked for. It's a dark piece and quite menacing.’
For Vincent, it’s important that dance strives to find emotional meaning that connects wrth audiences rather than Slmply celebrating phySicality, thus the company’s move in the direction of ' text—based performance. ’The production has something to say about performing and failing to perform,’ says Vincent. 'It’s about stepping into the limelight and haVing nothing to say. It’s about being in a place for too long and not knowmg if you can fly from it or not.’ (Davre Archibald)
Exploring the aging performer