‘THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT LIVE PERFORMANCE THAT’S PART OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT’ Hitlist THE BEST THEATRE & DANCE*
Adrian Howells’ Won’t Somebody Dance With Me?
N L L O C L E A H C M
✽✽ Mayfesto A brand new festival of issue-led theatre at the Tron, including politically charged work by David Greig, Colin Hough and Franca Rame, and featuring new shows from Scottish companies such as Gappad and Rhymes with Purple. See feature, page 24. Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Fri 7–Sat 22 May. ✽✽ Peter Pan The National Theatre of Scotland mounts its biggest production to date, a spectacular reworking of JM Barrie’s classic children’s fantasy. King’s Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 8 May then touring. ✽✽ The Cherry Orchard John Byrne’s bold adaptation of Chekhov’s classic tragi- comedy updates the action to May 1979 – the eve of Margaret Thatcher’s first election victory. See review, page 83. Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, until Sat 8 May. ✽✽ The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? Albee’s 2002 play is a typically heightened exploration of a family in crisis. See review, page 83. Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, until Sat 8 May. ✽✽ Les Miserables One of the most popular musicals ever arrives in the capital as part of the London production’s 25th anniversary tour. See review, page 84. Edinburgh Playhouse, until Sat 15 May. ✽✽ Blue Hen The latest play by novelist and short story writer Des Dillon follows a pair of unemployed men who attempt to rear chickens in Coatbridge. Corrie’s Jim McDonald heads up the cast. See preview, page 83. Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, Wed 5–Sat 8 May then touring. ✽✽ Behaviour Annual festival of envelope-pushing theatre at the Arches. See preview, left. Arches, Glasgow, Thu 11–Sat 29 May.
New connections Arches artistic director Jackie Wylie talks to Steve Cramer about behaviour and its theatrical antidotes
In the era of the ASBO, more restrictions are placed on our behaviour than existed a generation ago. Our media focuses so much attention on the dangers of other people’s behaviour that we end up fearing them. Meanwhile, we police our own interactions at the expense of self-expression. A way through the problem is to look at things from the point of view of those we normally see as marginal.
This alteration of perspective can be seen across the Arches Behaviour festival, which returns this fortnight. The festival stresses the need for people to gather together in order to dispel our preconceptions about behaviour.
‘There’s a lot about it that is intended to draw attention to human connectedness,’ says artistic director Jackie Wylie. ‘Our behaviour is both collective and individual at the same time. I think there’s something about live performance that shows a need for liveness, that’s part of the human spirit.’ Part of the reason our elites seek to alter our behaviour is to turn us into good consumers. Wylie is alert to this and wants the festival to address the issue. ‘There’s a human connectedness which runs deep within us and can’t be commodified,’ she says. ‘It requires performance to bring it out. Even given we can’t escape that to the degree that we have to charge audiences to go to the events, there’s still something about being in a room with hot bodies in one space at one moment that subverts it.’
Perhaps the most notable act of this year’s festival is Ontroerend Goed’s Internal, a brilliant performance that’s half-speed dating, half-group therapy, designed
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to get entirely under your skin. ‘There’s a kind of one-on-one performance involved,’ says Wylie about a show that was one of the most talked about events of last year’s Edinburgh Fringe. ‘There’s a lot of conventions, personal and professional, about preserving the audience from certain things. Internal subverts that. People have gone into that show as a couple and come out broken – it’s very challenging.’ As well as the usual Arches Brick awards – two commissions from among highlights of last year’s Fringe – there’s Platform 18, a new version of the earlier Arches Awards for stage directors. But the diversity of the acts, as Wylie says, is its strength. ‘Some of this work, like Susan and Darren, sees the artists telling their own stories in their own way. There’s a lot of participation from audiences in this one, but once again, that’s more about the artists than the performers.
‘Then there’s Adrian Howells’ Won’t Somebody Dance With Me? where you’re invited to dance with him, and there’s a lot in there about tenderness. That goes back to that idea of being in the space with someone – a lot of the work this year touches on the idea of small encounters in which people show tenderness to each other. ‘On the other hand, you might go to see Faust, which isn’t so tender, it’s more a kind of punk rock barrage. But once again, that emphasises behaviour and what interpretation we choose to place on people’s behaviour – the whole thing’s about that.’
Behaviour, Arches, Glasgow, Tue 11–Sat 29 May.