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Scenes from Burke's Gibralta


Sta i wars

After all the sensation of Gagarin Way, GREGORY BURKE’s second play has created a stir of anticipation. But he’s not too worried. Steve Cramer

n sun-drenched St Leonard‘s Park. Sydney. there‘s a

Boer War vintage artillery piece on a plinth.

commemorating the fallen :'\tl.stt‘ttlitttts of that war. and generally blessing tlte queen. lt stood opposite the hiin school I attended. and at titnes I used to lantasise about tinding a shell in its breech. altering its trajectory slightly. and lobbing some high explosives into the maths class that caused tne so much misery. In a city l'ull ol‘ empire memorials and military symbols. there seemed to be endless opportunities to associate the history of conquest and violence that is empire with personal histories.

l was surprised to find that (iregory‘ Burke. the l)unl‘ermline-based writer whose (iuguriti llirv created such sensation on the liringe two years ago had similar memories ot‘ distant sun-drenched lands and empire. ‘Yes. mate.’ he tells me. ‘I imagine they were pretty similar childhoods.’

Burke lived in (iibraltar from the ages of nine until lo. and witnessed the l‘alklands war from this semi-military colony. 'I remember at the time a lot of ships came back from exercises. There were more soldiers than usual. and they weren’t allowed ol‘t~ base. The ships started to be loaded with ammo. and when they all took off. they turned left instead of right. We knew then that the war was on.‘

This isn't just a random biographical reflection. for Burke has plainly based his new play on his experience ot’ this late imperial adventure. The Straits tells the story ol~ three adolescent boys and a young girl enjoying the sun and by proxy adventure of the period in this

locale. Their traditional rivalries over control of

territories and marine life with the local (iibraltarians creates tensions which escalate to an alarming degree. Was it actually like that for Burke?

28 THE LIST '7—31 2.1.1:.


‘ch. it was] he says. ‘.r\|l the British kids went to

(iibraltarian schools. .'\t the time there was a lot ol‘

tension. Spain wasn't part ol the lil'. and there was a sense that they supported the Argentincans dttring the war. There were lights. arid during tlte war. particularly. they were the spicks arid we were the British. that was the mentality. liven at the best ol times we British kids

only really lititig around together. There was a sense ol

siege ttl‘otll it:

All ol‘ this was e\acerbated. Burke tells me. by the sense of the cmpire's military history. ‘(iibraltar's a place wltere the projections ol- empire are very strong. I Used to go to swimming classes iii the bay where they brought the Victory alter the battle ol' 'l‘ral'algar. Nelson's body was placed iii a barrel ol brandy there and shipped home. w hile the Victory was repaired because it was so badly damaged. It was a military base. and that sense ol' military seeped into everything. I had to go back a long way to create these characters. Their way of thinking was very bound tip with the empirc's history. The military decided everything you did: where you lived. w here you went to school. every thing.’

Does the prospect til at second play dattnt him'.’ '.\'o. I don't tltink it‘s scary. l’ve actttally had more time than people ttsttally get with a second play. 'l‘hcrc‘s been so much goittg on around (iuuttriti “in. it‘s taken me to so many places arid l'yc doiie so muclt that I haven't tell any pressure. You'll always be on your second play until you‘re on your third. arid I can‘t cotitrol peoplch expectations about the play. so it's a case ol‘ittst going with it.‘

He's going with it. you‘d be well advised to go to it. Traverse Theatre, 0131 228 1404, 3-23 Aug, £8.50 (£4).

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Drama chameleons

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San Diego Dav/id (liotrrf‘, rollorgtton on modern Arnorityi l?) or) directed l)‘,‘ tilt: author himself in hit; first International l osti‘tal event sitter: Hit) Spoon/titty: lnfltienrmi li,' lhornton Wilder's ()t/r lowti. tho play is based on tho r;‘.'r;n‘s of a trip to the (fiflfll/llltfllf, (it, by tht; author. Hoya/ / yam/Iii Theatre, .4 [3 200/). 1."; l/‘Atiq. /'.30ritn; Sat and Son riirit 2.30pm. 5 73590.

Thebans lht; combination of Theatre Babel and l i/ loch'riead is as enticing as any Show or". the Fringe. lliis SCotf; treatment of classmal tragedy starts Scottish CFIIICS Award winner John Kai/ex and holds on the worldvmde success of its Medea three mars ago. Assembly Rooms. 226 2428. 3~ 24 Aug, 3. 15pm, {TO-£72 (5.9 -£‘ 70/,