PREVIEW NEW WRITING
THE FIRST TO GO
Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, Fri 23 8. Sat 24 May then touring
British audiences nearly got to see The First to Go in 2002. Actor and playwright Nabil Shaban had the commission from Battersea Arts Centre and the government had pledged $00,000 of its special funds for the European Year of the Disabled. TrOuble was. war had just broken out in Iraq and Shaban. a long-time political campaigner. was unprepared to take the government's shilling.
'There would have been a photo opportunity of me with a government minister handing me the cheque.‘ says Shaban. 55. who came to the UK aged three to get treatment for brittle bone disease. ‘I felt morally obliged to give the cheque back in protest at the war.’
It means that the play. which he started writing in 1996. is only now being produced. The irony is that the subject matter — what he calls the ‘disabled holocaust' — is already a hidden story. If it wasn't for Edinburgh's Benchtours. the little explored history of the Na/i's first victims would have been hushed up for even longer. ‘The story has never been told from a disabled person's point of vrew.‘ says Shaban. “Most people don't realise the gas chambers were invented to kill disabled people.
Hitler worried that. because they were REALITY about unemployment, is it about feminism, and so on.’ killing disabled Aryans. the public Tron, G|asgow, Thu 29_Sat 31 May In Reality he looks at three characters reflecting w0uld get upset. so they stopped the upon lives influenced by a mass media which affects gassings and continued to kill them A good three decades have passed since the talking men’s self perception ‘The first character is a kind of quietly with syringes.‘ (Mark Fisher) heads of the media first declared masculinity to be in comedy character who really wants to be famous, he’s crisis. If at times this idea has been overplayed, there desperate to make it in reality television,’ he says. ‘The can be little doubt that the role of men in our society second is dealing with his wife becoming famous while has changed as women have adjusted their position in he’s on tour as a soldier in Afghanistan. Then there’s a the social fabric. computer gaming teenage father, who plays games Martin O’Connor, a young Glasgow artist still on the that often represent wars. He has this uncle figure he agile side of 30, has made the subject his own in his looks up to. The uncle is a kind of role model, but all he last couple of shows, but he feels that his vision has talks about is shagging and getting in fights, and this matured with this latest foray into the subject. Reality young father feels that’s what he ought to be doing.’ was the recipient of support from the Dewar Awards At the heart of the piece is O’Connor’s desire to when it was first presented at the Arches some understand these characters without patronising them. months ago, and this revival at the Tron looks set to Here the audience plays its own role. ‘All these guys bring the unique series of monologues to a broader think they’re really doing something, but the audience audience. really know they aren’t getting anywhere. We slag ‘I started off with a couple of things about what is these guys off for wanting to do X-Factor, and slag going on with guys these days,’ O’Connor explains of them off for wanting to join the army - what kind of
his earlier work. ‘I asked why things had changed - is it options have they got?’ (Steve Cramer)
PREVIEW Cl IILDREN'S THEATRE LIAR TAG at the Citizens’ Theatre, Sat 24 May—Sat 7 June
Children's theatre is relatively uncharted territory for Davey Anderson. The young Glasgow playwright is best known for Snuff and Rupture. jet—black. heavily political pieces set in adult worlds of voyeurism. paranoia and surveillance. So what's he doing writing a play aimed at 8-12 year olds’?
‘It is a departure, yes.’ he admits. 'Actually. it wasn't that difficult a transition to make. because in my head I'm eternally ten years old! The writing feels different. though »- much less peering voyeuristically at adult people's lives and more storytelling — just being let into the internal monologue of a ten- or I l—year—old.’
What Anderson came up with was Liar. about I 1-year-old Liz/re. who discovers dark secrets about her family after meeting a mysterious old woman from a traveller community. The lyrical fantasy and humour of Liz/res world is offset with traditional Scottish traveller songs. performed live on stage.
Anderson hasn't abandoned political themes entire/y. 'I started wrth this idea of different communities livrng in the one space. in contemporary Glasgow. and all the friction that causes. At first. I couldn't work out how on earth I was going to make that appetising to eight-year-olds. and then I discovered these storytelling ballads traveller communities use to communicate their history with — songs that just seem to transcend time/ones and cultures. They're something we can and should be claiming as part of our history. in Scotland. but that whole culture is dying out now.‘ (Kirstin lnnesl
2".) May 1'» .Jun 2008 THE LIST 87