‘it’s not helpful to construct monsters out of the american military and
use them as a punching bag for what really is a corrupt administration and a corrupt idealogy’
’ustiﬁr the W.
US mass media reported that he had been caught ‘like a rat in a spiderhole‘. Shaplin was unsurprised by the language and
imagery being used. ‘They said that Saddam. at his point of
capture. was looking like a homeless man.‘ he remembers.
‘Only an administration like this. that has such a patent lack of
concem for homeless people. would be able to get away with comparing the appearance of Saddam Hussein to that of a homeless person. It actually says more about how Bush feels about the homeless than how he feels about Saddam.’
As anyone who followed the Riot Group’s progress in Edinburgh last summer will know. Saddam is not the only moustachioed man who has been on Shaplin's mind. Pugilist Specialist became front page news back in August when none other than Sean Connery turned up to see it. ‘The most interesting thing for me about having Sean Connery at our show was that the curse of his fame means that everything he does is a public performance.’ says Shaplin. ‘When he was in that room. he was acting as much as we were.‘
Although the actors were able to keep the attention of their audience ﬁxed on the stage. rather than on the former James Bond star sitting in their midst. Shaplin does admit to one moment when he intentionally played directly to the celebrity. ‘There’s a line in the play. in reference to distinguishing between the target and his double. where I say. “Well. fuck it. I’m clipping anything with a moustache.“ In every performance I make an effort to find someone in the audience
with a moustache and make eye contact with him at that line. So. in that particular performance. my moustache guy happened to be Sean Connery.‘
When. almost six years after they first appeared in Edinburgh. the Riot Group finally makes its premiere Glasgow performance. it will probably find its audience somewhat less star-studded. However. the players are excited about the prospect of Performing at the Arches. both because of the potential for a younger. more radicalised audience and because of the famous architecture of the venue itself.
‘Scottish audiences are the best audiences we have ever played for. without a doubt. ()ur shows sound and feel the best when we perform them in Edinburgh.‘ Shaplin comments. ‘Everything I've heard suggests that the play will go down at least as well in Glasgow.‘ The group is not at all fazed. he says. by the talk of trains rattling above the Arches while performers play below. ‘One of the reasons we like fringe venues is that they echo our beginnings. playing in basements and coffee houses.‘ he explains. ‘When we were doing our first shows together. we had to put trash bags over the windows. so we couldn’t see people walking by while we were rehearsing. So a train going overhead while we‘re on stage is nothing.‘
Pugilist Specialist is at the Arches, Glasgow, Tue 24-Sat 28 Feb. Mark Brown will chair a post-show discussion with the company on Thu 26 Feb.
Combat fatigue: Adriano Shaplin, Stephanie Viola, Paul Schabel and Drew Friedman (above)
are the Riot Group
is) Fob-<11 Mar 2004 7H5 LIST 23