An Interview with Horse McDonald

Horse McDonald has just begun a 2 month tour of Scottish venues with her play, Careful, an admirably frank and engaging telling of her own touching story of survival, from wearing two-tone velvet loons to becoming one of Scotland’s most celebrated singers; painting a vivid and powerful picture of those times when she had to be… Careful. Her next performance is at the Birnam Arts & Conference Centre, Dunkeld, this Friday, the 24th March Over the weekend, Horse took a little time out to talk to The Mumble;

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THE MUMBLE : Hello Horse McDonald – So where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?

HORSE : Hello! I was born in Newport on Tay, in Fife. I am in rehearsals ahead of the tour for my play, my story, Careful. We are currently at Rockvilla, the National Theatre of Scotland’s new purpose built base in Glasgow

THE MUMBLE :  You’re just about to tour your play, all over Scotland. Can you tell us why you decided to create such a piece of theatre.

HORSE : The time felt right, not just for me but Scotland. It came from conversations with my other half, she felt like I needed to challenge myself and that is certainly what I did. In my lifespan, there has been great change, the timeline sharing many historic and political events. At a point in my life where I feel I can speak and be heard, it reflects on those times when my voice was silenced. For those who are not able to speak then it serves as a reminder that it can and does get better for most people, LGBT or otherwise.

THE MUMBLE :  Could you imagine watching an honest & open revelatory play like careful in the Lanark you grew up in

HORSE : No. The town I grew up in was the same as any other small town in our country. This is about the opinions that prevailed, the political climate, the law, closed and small minds. The fact that it is biographical would have meant me facing the people who had provoked and attacked me. There is no excuse for any bullying, it is wrong, but LGBT bullying in the past was often down to ignorance and lack of knowledge. There is never an excuse for treating people badly.

THE MUMBLE :  Careful made its debut at last year’s Fringe. How did you find the experience?

HORSE : It was highly emotionally charged and deeply personal. I had to face events from my past which I had long since buried – issues and stories arising from bereavement, bullying, abusive situations and my musical journey amongst many others. To bring them back up was traumatising, some events happening to me from as young as 7 or 8. I struggled with a lot of the stories. Both Maggie [Kinloch, director] and Lynn [Ferguson, writer] took great care of me during the entire process. We made a powerful team.

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THE MUMBLE :  What emotional responses did you get from the audiences?

HORSE : After every single performance, people left either in silence or were visibly upset – both men and women. It meant a queue of people, post show, waiting to either hug me or get a hug. It provoked great debate, but mostly the audience felt sheer empathy with the various stories within the play. As human beings we have all experienced one or more of those elements. It is certainly not a gay play, just one person’s struggle to find their voice and we can all identify with that. The amount of 5 and 4 star reviews show just how well it was received.

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THE MUMBLE :  Careful has been co-written with writer Lynn Ferguson, can you tell us about your creative relationship

HORSE : Over a period of more than a year, from the beginning I shared my stories, whether via email or Skype calls to the end of the process, this was a constant. Not only could Lynn see it from the outside but she also took my experiences and revealed a side of me that people did not know but managed to maintain a safety net for me, not putting me completely through the mill. She put my stories in an order, managing to keep the thread running through it. She managed to keep a balance between the darkness and the light, the sadness and the humour.

THE MUMBLE :  After Careful you will be singing a few of your classic numbers – any ideas which?

HORSE : After the interval Maggie and I will be doing a Q + A and inviting questions from the audience. It will depend on the conversation and some of the questions asked each night but I don’t doubt that ‘You could be Forgiven’ (the first single) and ‘Speed of the beat’ will be there – I can’t imagine not doing those! I have the same problem when organising a set list – usually the problem is not choosing what to put in but what can I leave out!

THE MUMBLE :  What does the rest of 2017 have in store for Horse McDonald

HORSE : I am writing an autobiography now. I have festival appearances in summer and full band shows at the end of the year. I’m also excited about a special double header in London with David McAlmont called ‘Dusty v Shirley’ in which he and I pay tribute to those two iconic singers. We have various songs to sing solo but will duet on others. He is one of my favourite singers ever, so it is a real thrill to be asked. There will be more band gigs too.

An Interview with John O’Connor

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THE MUMBLE : Hello John, so you’ll be in East Lothian in a couple of weeks with Chekov’s Shorts. Have you ever been to the county before.

JOHN : Yes, we’ve played the Brunton Theatre many times over the years. Most recently with The Trials of Oscar Wilde and The Picture of Dorian Gray which both ended up in the West End. The audience in Musselburgh is always very knowledgeable, vocal and up for a good time. Also, my wife’s family are from near Haddington in East Lothian so I always enjoy coming to your beautiful county.

THE MUMBLE : You founded European Arts Company in 2002, what was the idea behind its inception.

JOHN : I was a jobbing (and sometimes not jobbing) actor and wanted to have some control over my career rather than waiting for the phone to ring. I managed to persuade the British Council to give us some money to tour Greece with a couple of Harold Pinter plays in 2002. We have since toured all over Europe (Italy, Germany, Ireland, Greece) as well as the UK and the name suits what we do. So to hell with Brexit!

THE MUMBLE : Since then you have done an awful lot of touring – 25 shows at the last count, right – what is it about a touring company that you love so much

JOHN : It’s something fundamental that goes right back to Shakespeare. When the theatres were shut by plague, the company would tour around the country and perform in towns and villages wherever they could find an audience. On this tour, we get to perform in theatres, schools, village halls, converted churches, barns, a former ropery and even a cattle byre! Every night is a new space, new audience, new experience and we always discover something fresh in the show that we might not have found if we’d been in the same place. It’s a fantastic way of seeing this country and connecting with people of all ages and from all walks of life.  After touring THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY it found a temporary home at Trafalgar Studios in the West End. What does it feel like to suddenly become stationary, so to speak. After touring the show for six months, I think it needed to find a permanent home and settle down. After playing every conceivable space and in front of every kind of audience, it was good to put it on in London. The production got savaged by some critics and lauded by others. We had 5 star reviews and 1 star reviews on the same night but it sold out completely so we were happy!

THE MUMBLE : What does John O’Connor like to do when he’S NOT touring a play.

JOHN : Touring is a joy but very difficult to organise and you are always one phone call away from a crisis. Vans break down, props get broken, costumes rip and actors get sick so it’s tricky to switch off. I do a lot of walking which gives me time to think and Scotland is beautiful for that. My family come from the West of Ireland and the scenery is similar in places but you have heather and highlands and that great expansive beauty.

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THE MUMBLE : How long does it take your company to develop a play for the stage.

JOHN : What you see on stage is usually the result of a year of planning. This show, Chekhov’s Shorts, is an exception as we first toured it ten years ago and have refined it over the years so it should hopefully purr like a well oiled machine!

THE MUMBLE : Can you tell us about Chekov’s Shorts, the play you are currently touring

JOHN : It’s been called ‘the perfect introduction to Chekhov’. Anton Chekhov is the second most performed playwright in the world after Shakespeare and one of the giants of world literature. He wrote over 600 short stories which are often very funny. Chekhov wrote his longer plays (The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, The Cherry Orchard etc) as comedies but they were played as tragedies by the Moscow Arts Theatre under the director Stanislavski. Chekhov was grateful for the success but frustrated by the ponderousness of the productions. Sadly, this tradition seems to have continued and I’ve seen some very dull, worthy, humourless productions of his plays. We wanted to show that Chekhov was a great comic writer and these 5 short plays were originally performed in Russian vaudeville theatres so were always meant to be populist and entertaining. They contain all of the beautiful bittersweet elements of his longer plays but with the brevity of a sketch show. This is Chekhov at his comic best, before Uncle Vanya started shooting, The Seagull got stuffed, The Three Sisters started moaning and The Cherry Orchard was ‘car-parked’!

THE MUMBLE : How are your experienced actors – Rupert Mason & Will Hartley – handling working with newcomer Eva Savage – & of course, vice versa.

JOHN : As I think you’ll see, Eva is giving them a run for their money! She might not yet have RSC or West End credits on her CV like the boys but she has done an awful lot of comedy. She has a great talent for farce and physical comedy which has added great energy to the show and complements their skills. They all seem to get on like a house on fire which is reflected in the fireworks on stage and often leaves audiences helpless with laughter.

THE MUMBLE : What does the rest of 2017 hold in store for John O’Connor

JOHN : This tour comes to an end in April and in May I’m going to New York because our version of The Picture of Dorian Gray is opening over there. I am directing another show in Italy this Autumn and then our acclaimed production of A Christmas Carol will be going out again in November/December. It seems perverse to talk about Christmas now but you asked! Hopefully we can bring it to East Lothian too.

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CHEKOV’S SHORTS WILL BE PLAYING AT

THE BRUNTON THEATRE, MUSSELBURGH,

SATURDAY 25TH MARCH

 

Hay Fever

The Lyceum

Edinburgh

10th Mar-1st Apr 

Script: four-stars  Stagecraft: four-stars Performance: five-stars 

Noel Coward’s adaption of Hay Fever has just landed in the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh, whose excellent production team have brought a different twist to this hilarious comedy. resonating with good deal of family units in these modern times, Coward’s imaginary Bliss family do not know what it actually means to be family. Written in the early 20s, when Coward’s star was rising on the rocket of popular acclaim, but a century later is only revived rarely. When The Mumble asked director Dominic Hill what drew him to a new adaption of Hay Fever, he replied, ‘its not often performed in Scotland, and with such a big cast was a play I always loved.  Its funny and celebrative of a type of bohemian character which is still relevant with todays audiences.’ The stage is set to represent a living room, with spectacular staircase climbing its way to the heights of the upper floors. Simple objects such as a sofa, basket, piano , chair, and other useable daily items were scattered around giving a proper sense of normality. With an eight-strong cast  all conveying some form of dysfunctional part to their human character, this was sure to be a collision waiting to happen.

The play proceeded with Bliss family all awaiting the arrival of their preferred guests, & one swiftly realizes how unable each is to adequately deal with conventional social relationships.  Gigantic egos clash like supernovas in collision, but its great fun to watch as  mother, daughter, son and father are pulling laughs from the audience with smuck remarks and steamy thoughts. Then, with the introduction of the guests, the play twists its way into a darker area of family trials and tribulations.

With Hay Fever bringing in some of the best & well-polished actors walking the boards today, the delivery of the lines were crisp, funny and even thought-provoking, with the end result always finishing in laughter. The flamboyant Mother Judith, the unhinged Father, David, and the siblings Simon ( Charlie Archer) and Sorel ( Rosemary Boyle), proved to be too much for the bewildered guests.  A whirlwind of deceit, lies and intrigue soon enslaves the family household, and the actors explode with facial expressions that would stop any army in their tracks.  Chaos becomes love, love becomes hate, hate becomes marriage and with tears not far behind its sure to all end up in disaster.  Then the sun rises, breakfast is served and like a flock of sheep fleeing a wolf the guests are gone… The question is why?

This is a play of good proportions, served by expanded characters that have been chiseled to the finest point.  Moving, funny, endearing, heart-warming and presented with an enthralling intensity, Hay Fever this play covers all the angles. An evening with the Blisses that is not to be missed!

Reviewer : Raymondo

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Gap Years

Play, Pie, Pint

Oran Mor

Glasgow

March 13-18

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Script: five-stars  Stagecraft: four-stars Performance: five-stars 

What a joy was this play to watch. A very real, cross-generational story about mothers & children & child-rearing, packed full of comedy from the pen of playwright Gavin Smith. In an earlier interview with the Mumble, Gavin very kindly outlined the plot of Gap Years, which, ‘focuses on a newly retired woman Geraldine. She’s full of life, has lots of disposable cash and is looking forward to 20 or so years of doing all the things and seeing all the places she always dreamed of. She knows that in a couple of decades she will be too old to do all these exciting things so has to live it up now. These are her Gap Years! But then… like so many retired grandparents of this generation… Geraldine’s daughter shows up looking for regular free childcare so she can go back to work. It’s a comedy as mother and daughters personal grand plans crash together and Geraldine finds herself changing nappies rather than flying to China.’

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Vari Sylvester was a lovely, flouncing genius, who delivered Smith’s effortlessly funny, anthropomorphic one-liners with quality timing. It rather felt as if I was listening to a fresh-from-the-wrapper vinyl record for the first time, so clear was Sylvester’s transition into her role. By her side was the excellent Tom Marshal as Peter, & the indisputably talented Nicola Roy as daughter, Louise. The three bounce off each other like genuine family members, & with Smith’s uncannily accurate portrayal of the the conflict which ladies of a certain age experience when entering the supposed ‘freedom’ of the pension years counterbalanced by the needs of their younglings, Gap Years is a tremendous success. ‘This is very close to my life,’ whispered a lady to my right to her friend. ‘This sounds so familiar,’ said another to my left. The play was certainly striking a chord.

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Charming from the off, Gap Years has many memorable moments, stitching little familial cliches into an embroidery of silky comedy. ‘I’d rather not pay my family to look after my family,‘ says Louise, before castigating her mother for feeding the baby a bourbon biscuit, which was clearly against the ‘brochure’ of rules she had left with Geraldine. Alongside these two, Peter comments on raising grandchildren by comparing them to a nice rioja read- a great taste, ‘but you don’t want to drink it all day for two days a week.’ The play perhaps tapered off a little in the third act, but not enough to tarnish a brilliant piece of theatre.

Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen

five-stars

The Lyceum @ the EIF

A unique collaboration between The Lyceum, The Edinburgh International Festival, and Dot Theatre, Istanbul.  Opening in August as part of Edinburgh International Festival.

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The Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh is delighted to join together with Edinburgh International Festival and DOT Theatre of Istanbul, one of Turkey’s most radical independent theatre companies, for an enthralling new Scottish/Turkish interpretation of avant-garde playwright Ionesco’s Rhinoceros. The production is presented in a new version, written by leading Scottish playwright Zinnie Harris (This Restless House, winner of Best New Play at the Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland 2016, and shortlisted for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize; How to Hold Your Breath, winner of the Berwin Lee Award 2015), who is currently in rehearsals for The Lyceum’s production of Caryl Churchill’s A Number, starring Peter Forbes and Brian Ferguson and performed as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival from 6 – 15 April 2017.

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Rhinoceros is directed by the celebrated founder of DOT Theatre, Murat Daltaban, and performed by a diverse company of actors from Scotland and Turkey. DOT Theatre return to Edinburgh International Festival following their incredible presentation of Theatre Uncut Istanbul, a project bringing leading Turkish writers together with leading UK writers to respond to the Gezi Park occupation and protests in Taksim Square, again directed by Murat Daltaban and presented at the Traverse Theatre in 2014.

In a sleepy French provincial town, a rhinoceros rampages across the market square. Another crushes someone’s cat. A woman sounds the alarm: it is the townspeople themselves who are transforming into these raging beasts. As more and more of the citizens embrace their future as rhinos, just one man – the drunkard Bérenger – refuses to transform. But why does he feel so out of step with everyone else? And what will his refusal to conform cost him?

Eugène Ionesco’s classic 1959 play is an uproarious absurdist farce – and a chilling examination of conformism, nationalism, fascism and fundamentalism that has been compared with Orwell’s Animal Farm and Camus’s The Plague. It considers the countless ways in which humans are content to adapt themselves to new and horrifying circumstances, and give in to poisonous ideologies. Alongside its piercing political insights, it is comic, thrillingly theatrical and deeply human, focusing on the unlikely hero of the everyman Bérenger, and the possibility of resistance to what might seem inevitable. A historic capital city from the far south-east of Europe collaborates with another historic capital in Europe’s far north-west to create a show that speaks urgently to the whole continent, and beyond.

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Speaking of her adaptation, playwright Zinnie Harris says: I think Ioenesco’s Rhinoceros is an immensely powerful and pertinent play for our times, if not a crucial play. It talks about mass movements, political discourse and how difficult it is to stand against a crowd – particularly one that is changing fast. The play is hilarious in places, witty and absurd – we are invited to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation before we recognise ourselves. When David Grieg and I first started talking about this project, it felt important that is should have an international team behind it, as this play speaks to so many regions of the world in 2017, so it is very exciting that we are able to work with the brilliant Turkish theatre director Murat Daltaban and his team from Dot Theatre in Istanbul. Murat is a dynamic and imaginative director that will a wonderful aesthetic and heart to the production.”

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Director Murat Daltaban says: The destruction becomes a sound in Rhinoceros. It arrives with a sound. It infects people with a sound. It insidiously alters the world with a sound. The masses cheer when that sound grows louder. The sound makes the individual deaf to the others and it isolates them. When the sound moves beyond the boundaries, one cannot hear one’s own voice anymore. All forms of communication, the sound destructs it all… This world, with all its “noises”, takes over our limbs and paralyses the time and space we are in. In this uncanny world, we must try to hear each other out, without succumbing to the fear it spreads.”

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Fergus Linehan, Edinburgh International Festival Director says: “The International Festival has had a working relationship with The Lyceum, one of our core Festival venues, for many years and I’m delighted that this develops in 2017 with our co-production of Rhinoceros. Part of a special season for our 70th anniversary which sees four Scottish theatre companies consider the origins of European drama from a contemporary perspective, Rhinoceros brings together Scottish writer Zinnie Harris with one of Turkey’s most radical independent theatre companies, in a show that I’m sure will speak to the whole continent and beyond”

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Exploring the themes of conformity, culture, and morality, Eugène Ionesco said in an interview in Le Monde (January 17, 1960): “I have been very much struck by what one might call the current of opinion, by its rapid evolution, its power of contagion, which is that of a real epidemic. People allow themselves suddenly to be invaded by a new religion, a doctrine, a fanaticism…At such moments we witness a veritable mental mutation. I don’t know if you have noticed it, but when people no longer share your opinions, when you can no longer make yourself understood by them, one has the impression of being confronted with monsters – rhinos, for example. They have that mixture of candour and ferocity. They would kill you with the best of consciences.”

Rhinoceros is at The Lyceum from Thursday 3 – 12 August 2017 as part of Edinburgh International Festival, and again in spring 2018 as part of David Greig’s second season as Artistic Director of the theatre.

Tron Theatre’s Mayfesto

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A season of new work inspired by experiments with music and sound, 9-31 MAY 2017. Tron Theatre’s Mayfesto season has now become very firmly fixed in the cultural calendar, and the Tron announce today the programme for this year’s mini-festival of edgy and provocative new work.  Inspired by Samuel Beckett’s struggle to write Words and Music, when he lamented ‘music always wins’, Andy Arnold has pulled together a season of theatrical works underscored and influenced by music and sound. Tron Creative is a strand of work that supports and nurtures emergent artists through a series of initiatives and our first Mayfesto show, Daphne Oram’s Wonderful World of Sound  (9-13 May, Press Night: Wed 10 May, 7.45pm) by Blood of the Young was developed as part of this strand. A journey through the amazing life of one of the great, unsung composers of the twentieth century, credited with shaping the entire development of electronic sound, writers Paul Brotherston and Isobel McArthur bring you Daphne Oram’s incredible story.

059_028__mainauditorium_1361787226_thumb.jpgIn a co-production with Ramesh Meyyappan Productions, Andy will direct Ramesh in a new comedic and highly physical piece of theatre, Off Kilter (10-13 May, Press Night: Thu 11 May, 8pm) as part of an international collaboration that sees the show premiere in Singapore. Off Kilter explores mental well-being, identity, feeling a little bit different from everyone else, and not quite being yourself and will incorporate illusions and masterful visual storytelling. In another co-production, The Tron are delighted to be able to include the world premiere of Tromolo Production’s jet-black comedy Music is Torture (18-20 May, Press Night: 19 May, 7.45pm) in the programme. Inspired by the research of musicologist and human rights campaigner Dr. Morag J. Grant into the use of music as a means of torture in political conflict, the production will feature live music and new material from A Band Called Quinn.

Horse McDonald’s Careful (Fri 26 & Sat 27 May, 7.45pm) was a huge Fringe hit:  the ‘candid, fearless’ story of how music saw her through some of the most difficult times in her life will be here for two nights only, as part of an extensive tour of the production. The University of Glasgow’s David Archibald and Carl Lavery will present Glasgow Glam Rock Dialogues (Tue 16 & Wed 17 May, 7.30pm) in the Vic Bar, where pressing political and aesthetic concerns will be channeled through the spirits of Marc Bolan and Suzi Quatro.

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Martin McCormick

In keeping with Mayfesto’s ethos of offering opportunities to hear brand new work presented, Andy has programmed a week of rehearsed readings. Award-winning Martin McCormick showcases his full length drama Ma, Pa and the Little Mouths; Martin O’Connor presents excerpts from a piece he’s working on inspired by his time as Writer in Residence with The Children’s Hospice Association, A Little Life;  Alan McKendrick’s theatrical-fiction band find themselves crammed into a taxi when their tour bus breaks down in ‘Wilsonian knee play’ Cadaver Police In The Electrocution Afterlife and Paines Plough’s Come To Where I’m From curates work from four Glaswegian writers about the city that has shaped them. The Tron then close the festival with a rousing gig, Mayfesto Song Party, from our very own Community Choir, who following the demise of the Arches have been meeting here at the Tron and have built up a repertoire that include club classics from Chaka Khan and Soul II Soul, alongside Lou Reed, Camera Obscura and Eurythmics numbers, with a bit of Elvis thrown in for good measure.

Artistic Director Andy Arnold says of the festival: ‘This year, Mayfesto, our festival that strives to present engaged and engaging work, is all about the music.  It makes me very proud to co-produce so many premieres of work from theatre-makers and performers who are really making a name for themselves with innovative, powerful and dynamic dramatic offerings. That we’re able to do this under the banner of our Tron Creative programme, and Mayfesto as a whole, is testament to our commitment as a venue to nurturing and supporting the very best creative talent that Scotland has to offer.’

 

The Citizens @ the EIF

CITIZENS THEATRE RETURNS TO INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL

WITH AWARD-WINNING VERSION OF ORESTEIA

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The Citizens Theatre returns to the Edinburgh International Festival with Oresteia: This Restless House, a powerful reimagining of Aeschylus’ The Oresteia by Zinnie Harris, directed by Dominic Hill. Announced as part of the Edinburgh International Festival programme, Oresteia: This Restless House in association with the National Theatre of Scotland will play at the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh from 22 – 27 August 2017. The production will preview at the Citizens Theatre on 15, 16 and 17 August and return to Glasgow from 31 August – 9 September.

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Oresteia: This Restless House epitomises the bold and ambitious vision that Hill has brought to the Citizens Theatre. Zinnie Harris’ landmark adaptation of The Oresteia tells the bloody saga of a family torn apart by a succession of murders and betrayals. First performed in 485 BC, today’s audience will find that Dominic Hill’s production brings the universal themes of justice, revenge, loyalty, and the evolving relationships between teenagers and their parents bang up to date in this blistering drama exposing the fragility of a family’s bonds. Originally presented as a trilogy of plays and now presented as one epic theatrical event, Zinnie Harris’s trailblazing new work was nominated for ‘Best New Play’ at the UK Theatre Awards in 2016 and was awarded Best New Play and Best Director at the 2016 Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland. Pauline Knowles was awarded Best Actress for her role as the vengeful Clytemnestra and leads a powerful ensemble cast.

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Following the programme announcement, Artistic Director Dominic Hill said: “I am delighted to be bringing Oresteia: This Restless House to The Edinburgh International Festival. At the Citizens we strive to make work that is epic in nature, with an international reach, but which equally feels relevant to our audiences at home in the Gorbals. The Festival is a great fit for this production and allows us to re-mount it in Glasgow too. Zinnie Harris’ reworking of the original retains the enormity of the Oresteia while at the same time rooting the story in a modern family context that feels instantly recognisable and accessible. Revenge, desire and the love between parents and their children are at the core of the play that aims to captivate, entertain and disturb audiences.”

Returning to the Edinburgh International Festival is another milestone in Hill’s five year tenure as Artistic Director of the Gorbals theatre having presented his first season in 2012. Known for his contemporary re-imaginings of classic texts, Hill is the most nominated director in the 14 year history of the Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland, winning five awards for Best Director including Betrayal in 2012, Crime and Punishment in 2014 and This Restless House in 2016.

 Many of the original 2016 cast have been reassembled and include familiar faces from some of the most acclaimed Scottish theatre productions of recent years including George Anton, George Costigan, Keith Fleming, Pauline Knowles, Lorn MacDonald, Itxaso Moreno, Olivia Morgan and Anita Vettesse. Nikola Kodjabashia (music), Colin Richmond (design), Ben Ormerod (lighting design) and EJ Boyle (movement) return as the creative team to remount this play.

The Citizens last appeared at Edinburgh International Festival in 2015 with an adaptation of Alasdair Gray’s Lanark, written by David Greig and directed by Graham Eatough, the first time the Gorbals playhouse had been included in the festival since 1998. Tickets for This Restless House at the Citizens Theatre and at Edinburgh International Festival go on sale on Saturday 25 March at 10am.

 

 

 

An Interview with Gavin Smith

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Gap Years is on at the Oran Mor all week

THE MUMBLE : Hello Gavin, so are you looking forward to Gap Years being at the Oran Mor

GAVIN : Very much so. It’s my first Play Pie and a Pint and I can’t think of a better venue and audience for this short play. Whilst I’ve seen lots of them as an audience member it’s very different and exciting to have penned one.

THE MUMBLE :  Can you tell us a little about the play
GAVIN : It focuses on a newly retired woman Geraldine. She’s full of life, has lots of disposable cash and is looking forward to 20 or so years of doing all the things and seeing all the places she always dreamed of. She knows that in a couple of decades she will be too old to do all these exciting things so has to live it up now. These are her Gap Years! But then… like so many retired grandparents of this generation… Geraldine’s daughter shows up looking for regular free childcare so she can go back to work. It’s a comedy as mother and daughters personal grand plans crash together and Geraldine finds herself changing nappies rather than flying to China.

THE MUMBLE :  How are you finding director Steve McNicoll’s handling of your brainchild
GAVIN : Well the show is a bit about looking after a baby and I suppose Steven is doing similar by looking after my ‘Baby.’ He hasn’t dropped it yet. He’s a great director because he knows comedy and knows theatre and he’s injected a lot of heart in to the piece that I think has lifted the comedy even more and he’s pulled together a cracking cast.

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THE MUMBLE :  What is the difference between writing for television & writing for the stage – what are the nuances you notice
GAVIN : You’ve got a lot more to think about. There’s more time to fill. You want the play to be dynamic and pacy but it’s all happening live and needs written out completely. Television tends to be tightly edited but in a play you can’t just cut to the character a few months on in an instant having grown a beard. The set might need to change, the costume change and the beard to be put on in the wings. That all affects pace and rhythm. In TV if a speech is too long and dragging then you can always just cut it down in the edit of the programme but there’s no such fall back for theatre. What you write, what you see and what you hear is what the audience get. There’s no additional beards in Gap Years.

THE MUMBLE :  What is the secret to making somebody laugh?
GAVIN : If I knew that I’d be a millionaire! There’s so many different ingredients and like all recipes sometimes it’s the best thing you’ve ever made and other times you overdid the salt. Authentic comedy characters with a clear attitude are a must. Recogniseable ideas and situations are essential and then just exaggerate those and look for laughs. The important thing is for audiences to get the character, buy in to the big idea and connect with it on some level. That’s half the battle and then you just have fun with it. No matter what you do there’s always some people who enjoy it and some who don’t. Just think about all the differing comedy opinions you have with your friends and family. There’s no one size fits all.

THE MUMBLE :  What makes you laugh?
GAVIN : My kids. Five and seven and they talk some amount of nonsense. I love it.

THE MUMBLE :  What does the rest of 2017 have in store for Gavin Smith
GAVIN : Gap Years the tour, Gap Years the series, Gap Years the movie, Gap Years the Prequel. Hopefully. But if not, I’m definitely going to Legoland in the summer with the family. Booked that up the other day.

The Beaches of St Valery

A Play, A Pie and A Pint
Oran Mor
Glasgow 
Mar 6-11

IMG_5604i Anna Saxberg, James  Rottger, Ron Donachie.jpg

Script: four-stars  Stagecraft: four-stars Performance: four-stars 

A series of letters to a much loved brother, link events in Scotland and France, before and during WWII. They’re written by Callum, a young Cameron Highlander in the British Expeditionary Force, captured at St Valery by the victorious German Army. He faces deportation to Poland until fate intervenes, in the form of a patriotic French lass and her father.

The cast of three (Ron Donachie, James Rottger and Ashley Smith) are excellent and ably assisted by the clever use of back-projected images of the time (embarking Scottish troops, battle damaged towns, advancing tanks and triumphant Wehrmacht officers). Sound also plays its part, from the rasping cry of a corncrake in the Scottish Highlands to the menacing drone of planes over Normandy, from the war time songs of Britain and France to the cast’s live and haunting version of the of The Flowers o’ the Forest.

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The contentious subject of the sacrifice of the 51st Highland Division at St Valery is explored in discussions between the older sergeant and younger soldiers. The former stressing the need to continue fighting to ensure the French army doesn’t collapse, the latter bemoaning the lack of bullets. We are reminded how quickly young men grow up in times of war – and how some don’t have that opportunity.

Reviewer : David G Moffat

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World Domination

A Play, a Pie and a Pint,

Oran Mor, Glasgow

27th Feb to 4th March

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Script: four-stars  Stagecraft: four-stars Performance: four-stars 

World Domination is a meandering vision of a broken family, anchored upon a suburban dominatrix dungeon. The madame of the crypt is played by Louise Ludgate, who at first rejects the return of her errant  sister, Hannah Donaldson. What follows is a gradual shifting of the spheres as the-at-first stoic dominatrix begins to crumble, while the once-flakey, ketamine-bombing sister begins to ‘dominate’ proceedings, in the most gentlest of ways that is.

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The two actresses bob along with an unstrained & effortless chemistry, & the script stands up to scrutiny. This is playwright Lesley Heart’s fifth A Play, A Pie and A Pint staged, & it’s a moving,  snapshot of the mediocratic malaise which effects modernity. I particularly liked the script at:

  • : This is my dungeon, my place of work
  • : Its quite a change from human resources
  • : No I don’t think it is

 

An excellent addition to this season’s PPP, especially if you like your theatre clad in lycra & your scenes divided by hard-core German Techno.

Reviewer : Damo Beeson Bullen

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