This issue, The List starts a new series in which members of the theatre profession get their own say, in their own words, on the current state of the industry. To kick off, NEIL MURRAY, director of the Tron theatre in Glasgow, says he feels Scottish audiences don’t seem to want serious new plays.

s the director ol‘ a theatre.

as you would expect. I

spend a large amount of my time in darkened rooms across Scotland and heyond. watching a cross section of theatre and performance. liyentually. a hit like finding an image ol‘ Jesus in the tea leaves. you begin to try to detect trends in audiences. This is my current theory: people in Scotland don't want to go to see serious new plays.

This is. of course. entirely suhjectiye. but my memory of the first four months of this year singles out popular successes for shows like Borderline‘s Dem] l-iunny‘. 7:84's Reasons" In be ('liee/j/ii/ and the Royal l.yceum‘s Six Blue/r ('um/lt's. .-\dmittcdly. they are not all entirely new plays. but they tune a comedic thread running through them that allows me to categorise them together. Similarly. rcyiyals ol’ classic plays. such as hahel’s .vl Dolls House. the Lyceum's (Tue/e l'urit'k and Northern Broadside‘s .l/(‘I't'lllllli of Venice haye all heen packing them in.

The productions that haye heen l‘alling through the gap. somewhat. haye generally been pt‘ey'iotisly acclaitned plays such as l’aines l’lough‘s 'l‘lIe Sim/Is or the 'l‘rayerse‘s People .\'e.rt Door. or work from companies and indiyiduals with great reputations such as Theatre ('ryptic or Adrian ()smond’s .S'u't't'ls't‘ur. l)espite lots ol~ marketing and press interest. it has been a real challenge to attract large audiences for this work. Why should this he'.’ In the end. I tear the linger has to he pointed (and I include mysell' in this) at the producing theatre companies. We seem to haye cultiy'ated an atmosphere of l’ear within ourselyes about taking on hig. serious. dil‘licult issues. which has heen transmitted to our audiences. The concept ol‘ the late .lolm .\lc(}rath‘s '(iood Night ()ut' has heen taken to the nth degree.

Two recent occurrences really woke me tip to this lact. l-‘irstly'. while watching BB('4. I stumbled across

a lilm ol‘ the National Theatre‘s l‘)7()s production ol‘

l’inter‘s No .llun's with Michael Kitchen and the wondcrl‘ul Terence Righy. circling threateningly around .lolm (iielgud and Ralph Richardson. To my ama/ement. it was made by (iranada. so presumahly went out on lTV. who knows. maybe at peak time.


t: t i t:

Neil Murray at the Tron

(‘an you imagine that happening now'.’ That extraordinary \‘isccral language instead ol‘ what we are now Used to seeing: yet another amnesiac cop'.’ The second eyent was a trip to Dundee to see Dominic llill‘s exemplary production ol~ lloward Barker’s brilliant Scenes l-i'um (m l'...\'(’('II/li()ll. .\ play

ol‘ ideas. language and conscience. alheit playing tor

a limited run to a reduced si/ed auditorium that still hats olT to the Repll. Surely. w c haye the talent in Scotland to aspire to those heights. .'\t the Tron we are currently working with Anthony \eilson and Dayid (ireig (that is why I haye

whom are not al’raid to take on dil‘l‘icult. trouhling themes. There are. til. L‘tttll'st‘. Hillel's. tts litilll. its theatre “mixers and audiences. encourage those Visions and go on the journey


In his progrannnc note l'or

Dundee. lloward Barker remarks that he always sends his plays to the National Theatre in London in the almost certain knowledge they will he rejected. thus conyincing himsell' he is still on the right path. :\s the National Theatre ol‘ Scotland prepares to launch. surely a measure ol its success

is that it. and hopelttlly' when. a Barker play or

something ol‘ similar amhition thumps on the doormat. it is not rejected hut perl‘ormcd to audiences throughout Scotland. .\'ow that would he it seriously good night out.

singled them out). hoth ol‘

Re: Trending the Boards THOSE WHO ARE FAMILIAR

with the work of Benchtours will require little urging from Whispers to attend its new touring production. This inventive and very visual company boasts an international feel in its casts and an innovative approach to its work, whether performing a contemporary piece or reviving a classic. It’s doing the latter this month, with Ibsen’s Peer Gynt. One can’t help but reflect that the element of fantasy and myth in this picaresque adventure with trolls, fairies and the supernatural to the fore is the kind of work that suits Benchtours’ style. A longish tour will begin at the Brunton Theatre, Edinburgh on 27th May. llKl; (ZINIM tit l i A Rik/HIE it N HY the Data: l ama. Dax'ml t (Erirtj. '2; (l(}f3(3l‘:l)‘.l()li of ":5; )I“"t3.

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Through the Night