Ml rsrr;,\1 INTO THE WOODS

The cast and crew of the new Byre Theatre’s initial production

It‘s clear from this that Sondheim is exploring the

New Byre Theatre, St Andrews, Wed 20 Jun—Sat 14 Jul.

ne of the hallmarks of our culture over the last 30

years is our obsession with the idea of

storytelling. These days, anyone who’s seen a horror film such as Scream can tell you that many of our stories are really about stories. It’s testament to the widespread and popular nature of this theme that even the musical, the equivalent of the Tory in blue pinstripe among theatrical genres, has taken it on board.

The new Byre Theatre in St Andrews will be bringing the first, genuinely innovative example of this form to a professional Scottish stage very shortly. It seems inevitable, too, that the innovator was Stephen Sondheim, who, with James Lapine produced this 1989 Broadway hit musical. It looks an auspicious start for the new building.

Ken Alexander, artistic director of the new Byre, explains the storytelling process: ‘What it does is bring together a load of folklore characters, people like Cinderella, Jack (of the beanstalk) and his mother, and Red Riding Hood. Act one takes us through their stories, their journeys into the woods, and finally gets to “happily ever after”. It’s very funny, and musically and theatrically very strong. The second act is about what happens after

mythic structures of society, but it also seems significant that each of these myths is about rites of passage into adult sexuality. Cinderella must learn about interaction with males before she gets to her ball, while I’m sure I needn’t expand upon Jack’s expanding Beanstalk.

There seems still to be a regrettable ignorance among some men about the potentials and purpose of a lady’s Little Red Riding Hood, but the presence of sub editors at this publication would prevent me from breaking the metaphor down. That’s another limitation of storytelling. Suffice to say that the metaphor of eating that runs through Red Riding Hood is significant to what amounts to a cautionary tale about sexual health. Certain sexual acts were labelled ‘dirty’ in the Victorian period, when the tale became popular, and you can take this quite literally, as most folk lacked the facilities to wash with any regularity. Enough said.

But beyond the negotiation of sexuality, these stories are about the ideology taught to us that places the individual above relationships and community. Alexander comments: ‘In the second act, their worlds fall apart, because they have been out for themselves. Only when they bring their community back together can they find an ending.’ 30 sexuality, relationships and society all come in one package, despite what your fairytales told

“happily ever after”.’



Playwright John Binnie, The List's Gay Section editor, previews a production of his acclaimed 2000 Fringe play.

Youth Theatre rs often nettlected and oyer'shadowed by rts grown-up. adult counterpart. Preconcerrtrons abound about youth theatre productrons that are full of good rntentrons. grrnnrng youngsters and chock-a—block wrth Issues. As a wrrter. workrng Wrth young people gryes you access to a world that rs fresh. cuttrng edge and all about lryrng through change. Young peoples lryes are as complicated and messy as adults. They haye all thrs access to technology. rnforrnatron and chorces yet you only have to look at the rncr'ease rn eatrng dI8()I'(lOI'S. teena‘rge depressron. even StlICIdO to r'ealrse yOuth rs not carefree.

Mary Gaprnskr. the depute artrstrc drrector of West Lothran Youth Theatre asked me rf I'd be Interested rn wrrtrng a play for the 2000 Edinburgh Frrnge about teenage self

you. (Steve Cramer)

rrnage. Especrally that whrch related to young men who have been bombarded by medra rrnages of tanned. toned. rmpossrbly handsome men. I went along to the Playshed. the youth theatr'e's headquarters rn LryrrthIOIt. where l \.'\.ror'kshopr)e(l and rmpr'oyrsed wrth erght young people. They let me rnto therr' \.'.'or‘ld. shar'rng therr' concerns. worrres. ambrtrons. oyen what krnd of musrc they Irstened to. What rs rt Irke to be a young person now? Where do they see themselves rn ten years trme'.‘

The young people ‘.‘.’(3I'(? yery keen to adyrrse me on what krnd of play I should wrrte for them. ere'.-.rse. y'xhat krnd of characters they would be rnsprred to play. I went away. promrsrng to return wrth a frrst draft of Soft Boy rn a few months trme. I would also get therr feedback at the return sessron. I was terrrfred. Could an ancrent 35—year-old yarr'rter' possrbly recreate therr Iryes In a truthful. enter'tarrrrng way 2’

Youth theatre has a lot to In e up to. Really good youth theatre rs t'teatre

Youth is truth?

for e\.rer";.'one. It should be challengrng and proyocatrye and ama/e you wth rts energy and commrtment. Fortunateiy theatres such as the Batbgate Regar, Edrnbur‘gh's Tran 3rse and GIasgow's Tron where Soft Boy tours. understand the remarkable potential of y0ut‘n theatre. Come along and for yourself.

I Traxe'se Theatre. Edrnhurgh, Thu 2 7—Sur‘ 8-1 Jur‘.

Stage whispers

The talk of the Green Room

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theatres '.'.lrrr‘h y‘all. tlzraorretrt‘.lll',. turrrrulr It ‘.'.rtlr future pfrrrltrr'trr )Itf; \‘p'r-‘rr- strll \.'.'artrrr<_; tr >r a". ans‘err tr» lllr‘. possrblr: quandary. \‘r/atch tlttf. 1;; >a<:e.

THIS YEAR'S COMMUNITY theatre offering from the Netherbow is Martin Bowman and Bill Findlay’s translation of Michel Tremblay’s The Guid Sisters. This story of the fall-outs that occur between the women of a tenement community after one of their number wins a fortune in the equivalent of Green Shield Stamps is both funny and moving, and proved an immense success in its first Scottish production at the Tron a decade ago. This production is directed by widely-respected theatre professional Gowan Calder, and will run from Friday 8 until Saturday 16 June. This looks to be a night of eloquent satire.

fat: 73ft.

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The Netherbow’s production of The Guid Sisters

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