Tron theatre, Glasgow, Fri lb—Sat 17 Feb, then touring.
The man on my corner started appearing about eight months ago. There he sat, on his grubby blanket and importuned me for some change. He's been there ever since, come rain, shine or snow. He looked about eighteen when he first appeared. He looks about 30 now. Occasionally I drop him some change and wonder uneasily what will have happened when he's no longer there.
The same disquieting sensation might well be evoked by TAG's new production, Stroma, a play about three young Scots on the mean streets of London, which is touring schools and young offender institutions after its run at the Tron. In it, a young homeless girl persuades her two male friends to accompany her to the island of the title, an inhospitable, no longer inhabited place north of John O' Groats. Here the play reaches a climax some might find tragic, but Italian-born writer Michele Celeste says it’s more than that.
'There is a tragedy in it, but there's also redemption,’ says the author of
Stroma: Are the homeless invisible
Traverse plays Hanging The President and Columbus: Blooding The Ocean. ‘There has to be redemption, because this is a play to give young people hopes and dreams. It would be very cold hearted for a writer to write for young people and tell them there's nothing in life and to give up before they start.’
Celeste has undertaken the project with TAG's artistic director James Brining with a collaborative technique, bringing in many homeless people in a research process stretching back nearly three years. How has he found the process? 'As a writer, once you close yourself off from input into this kind of project, you’re cutting yourself off from the very source of life in the work. It would be silly not to be open to contributions, wherever they come from. You can’t include everything,
it would be as long as The Mahabharata, but you must select the right pieces.’
For all the eclecticism of his sources, the narrative, on the face of it, sounds gloomy. Celeste contests this, though, arguing it’s also funny. 'lt’s laughter because you’re drowning in it,’ he says. ’The jokes come from desperation, but there is a lot of comedy, a kind of comedy of desperation.’
In a sense, this form of theatre confronts an issue that we find so everyday that we cease to acknowledge it. But should we ever have allowed such 'ordinary' tragedy to become normal, and therefore, acceptable? If you think we shouldn’t have, you might want to attend this production to remind yourself of the reality inside the street-soiled sleeping bag. (Steve Cramer)
Instant Travel To Pop- Up Cities
Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Tue 27 & Wed 28 Feb.
Since 1984, Edinburgh‘s Innovative Lung Ha’s Theatre Company has produced over twenty stage shows, prOViding opportunities for adults With learning disabilities to become involved with the performing arts. Its latest production, Instant Travel To Pop-Up Cities, is a sequel of sorts to 1996's The Home-Made Child, and is a unique
Evelyn Glennie: An award winner returns
collaboration between composer David Heath, Lung Ha’s 30-strong company of actors, and Virtuoso percussionist Evelyn Glennie who Will play live, accompanied by saxophone and piano. The show evolved from African Sunrise-Manhattan Rave, a piece written especially for the grammy- Winning Glennie, who has worked With everyone from the London Philharmonic Orchestra to Bicjrk.
So, what is Instant Travel all about? ‘The story is that the world is frozen, and time has stopped, except for this group of glowmg people called the
lluoresant Family,' says writer/director John Mitchell. ’They are searching for children in Various cities in order to give them stained-glass hearts, With which they hope to bring light and warmth back into the world It's a kind of guest, and entirely Visual in many \vays'
This intriguing premise Will be explored through live music, Video and dance ’lt’s mainly a movement piece, and we have a great choreographer, Janice Parker, working With us,’ says Mitchell ’Because rt’s music all the way through, there's no actual spoken word, except for one monologue half way in Although, there Will be words, animation and Video proiected onto a screen at the back of the stage 80, it Will be like a fairy tale-cum-soence fiction tale '
If successful, the production could pave the way for more avant-garde musical proiects ’In the future, who
knows7’ says Mitchell. ’We’ll have to
see the reaction to this one. It’s the most ambitious show that Lung Ha's has produced to date. And, obViously, working With someone of Evelyn Glennie's stature is an incredible opportunity for the company}
NEW PLAY A Wee Bit Of How Do You Do
The Arches, Glasgow, Wed 28 Feb—Sat 3 Mar.
When people who move about on two legs encounter people Who move aboutintitxheﬂchau,the phywcal disparity between the two is often more problematic for the former than it is fc>r the latter It seems they can’t progress beyond their lllillcll feelings of sympathy for the plight of their ‘disabled' acciuaintance to further investigate their lives And Whether we like it or not, even in the arts, we all too readily attacli ibels to things we don't really comprehend
lormed in l990, Selinds of Progress provrdes people \‘vllll special needs the opportunity to use the medium of music to explore and develop their creatiVity In recent years the company has moved into the world of theatre and it now follows up last year’s /rreparab/e Dolphins With a deVised piece of theatre based on testimonies from Socinds of Progress band members and featuring actors lor'bes Eastfnders Mason and Gerda Stevenson
The production weaves monologues around a surreal narrative interspersed With emotional songs about desire, escape and love With music very much at its core ’lt presents a picture of extraordinary human berngs,’ says director Gerry Mulgrew, the Communicado main man working With the company for a second time, 'But the common theme is not disability, it’s about growrng up in the poorer parts of Glasgow With no chances or, at least, fewer chances But it’s wrong to describe it as "disabled theatre". That sOunds like theatre that doesn't work or theatre With people that can't act. This is a piece of musical theatre played live by very talented musicians Some of them happen to be getting around On wheels rather than legs, but that's irrelevant'
Mulgrew also stresses that the production is aimed at entertaining audiences rather than instructing them. ’There is no preaching in the show,’ he says. 'lt's not a church or a lecture hall But some of these people have had extraordinary lives and their stories would make your hair stand on end. And it is very funny. Seeing people on wheelchairs laughing at themselves can actually be very refreshing ’ (Davre Archibald)
‘ w . ‘No church or lecture hall': A Wee Bit Of How Do You Do
15 Feb—l Mar 2001 THEUSTBS