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Blair bitch protect

After the spectacular success of his screenplay for Billy Elliot, writer LEE HALL has taken on his biggest theatre project yet.

Words: Steve Cramer

s the old ltalian truism goes. everything

changes and nothing changes. Six years after

the election of a British Labour government. the lives of its traditionally working—class constituents have seen little improvement from the years of sustained assault that occurred under Thatcherism. At a time when the profit motive has become a monomanic obsession for those who govern us. \vriter Lee Hall feels that a timely intercession is needed.

Herman l'leijermans‘ 'I'ln' (inm/ Hupr’ created a political debate at the time of its first production in 1901. which eventually forced tnajor changes in maritime lavv. In it. a corrupt

shi ovvner s ‘nds an unsaf‘ - - p ‘A musty-eyed versuon

fishing boat to sea. with tragic

results for the crevv‘s mm ‘1 '. l-lzll‘. " ' co uni y t s version ls “a”

remains in period. but its

location is changed to Whitby in north east lingland. and its more View!

tone and techniques have been rendered more appropriate to modern audiences. llall maintains the play"s relevance to contemporary Britain.

‘I see it as my parable about .\'evv Labour.~ he says. ‘A lot of the arguments that the shipovvner uses to justify himself are very current in the Labour Party. It‘s about the problems that arise when you try to marry commerce and the community. The parallel is really the rail industry. What happened to the lishing

Public private prattnership

industry at the time is really what‘s happened to the railvvays over the last couple of years. I hope people will see the metaphor more clearly through the distance of time. since you can see through all the rhetoric and spin of the current debate..

The play might sound dry described this way. but Hall‘s credentials in creating sympathetic human characters is demonstrated by Billy Elliot and his talent for comedy exemplified in the lidinburgh Festival liringe hit Cooking Wit/I li/t'is'. ‘lt‘s’ quite unremitting in the way it stares tragedy right in the face. but there are some really funny bits as well.‘ he says. ‘Bill Bryden‘s use of music and dance make it a full night out. The music reflects a folk culture. a very integral part of the play.‘

Through such projects as The Big Picnic and The 5111/). Bill Bryden‘s credentials \vith epic-scale drama are well established. but will there be a human touch to the characters of a production which boasts a Zl— strong cast'.’ ‘I hope the audience will get close to the characters.‘ says Hall. ‘The piece focuses on one particular family and Frances De La Tour gives a really big performance as the mother. Also. in the original. the shipovvner is a rather agit-prop character. and I‘ve tried to broaden him out and humanise him.‘

But vvhat of the vexed issue of the representation of working-class characters on our stages“? There‘s been a frequent tendency for vvriters to glamorise or

patronise the lives of vvorking

middle-class audiences remain unchanged from the already existing stereotypes. dravvs on his ovvn working-class Geordie background to authenticate his characters. ‘A misty—eyed version of vvorking-class characters is just as dangerous as the more patrician vievv. I try to make theatre that my mum and dad can go and see. as vvell as my mates from college. I feel l’ve failed ifl can‘t give them all a good night out.‘

The Good Hope is at Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Tue 12-Sat 16 Feb, and King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Tue 19-Sat 23 Feb.

folk. so that the vievvs of

theatre@list.co.uk '

Stage Whispers

Treading the boards


McGrath on 22 January IS one that wll leave Untouched almost no one in the Scottsh theatre. I first met McGrat'“ at the National Plays/rights Conference :n Canberra in May 198:3. st the room next door to llt'ltl’} r‘ our frugal halls of residence accommoratior‘. and each lli()".'lil‘g for three weeks we ate stoo’gy breakfasts together anrl chatted about the theatre. During that brief time my ‘.’?S!Ol‘ of the role and potential of tl‘e theatre was transformed anti McGrath's ideas became cert‘fiaps the most influential force lt‘ my thinking ab0ut theatre. as wet as clarifying much o.‘ now I already felt ooEltloa-ly.

The ob'ttarres that nave already actzeareu reiterated '72s ‘orrnlcia‘ole body of work when cor/erect not Just theatre 13):". cart" and south of the boraer. or film. and teen/ism". as .‘xei? as letters. HlS book. A Good [fly/'7! Out presented a" altercatwe 2053th 0‘ the theatre. es<:f'te'.'.'ed

'l\ {\II (.(s ,.,,,\,, ',\ol, ,\(s ,\o' O, .. ‘C‘ V (loo Vt; Hf, ..u- 1.) u t K?

heurgeo's °."‘€;a’.r(;- and made 'Jla'ClC' a "Ciro" o" theatre trtat didn't have to oat‘o'er to the

DFGjUG ces of nudge-brow.

middle class aurlences.

Mthl‘. ::<;..’i<: t.;(; earned from MCGrat*‘ o; .'."':'.(‘:l'8 professmg oolltlcal theatre today Not for him the postmodern nose- strtktng anti ex sten‘. at despair vale see so ::‘t-::-r‘ c the represectattr '>‘ .'.'::rs<lct.j-oass Characters; '."»:;~:':,-;: (lays. H s .‘xas a theatre icaf airmen. askhg QL1(ESil(J"S$Ii"Tlf3.lgj§j(:8ill‘g solutions. l :2' f'tixse '.'."‘.() l'ke to see figures o" t"<;~ to". as oer'nar‘e'f ,. any"). MoG-rat'i was the (Lt;".'."£t~.’,‘£‘lf;-IE. Hts ~.-:as a clear sq"t<2<:_ .:a l“ a":: t)rof()t;"<t I. "atlz:"2t notifies. ‘.‘./3tl‘()t.t tl‘t: Hyster a t'ia‘. (“(2 right trust ;:::::"::a<:'t scoot; for their case s s;.;oo:;rte<l. but lll‘ElllOl‘L‘... l l-:; .'.as also ()“0 o‘ the kindest ar‘a‘ host natured melt,1;..:;t;..:l":)::t:t::'i‘eet. Ho ‘.'.=;l t)-:; :;:;'-.,-. t“»é;:;<}:t.

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