Monthly Archives: May 2017
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland joins forces with Dundee Rep
To stage annual musical theatre production
The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland will join forces with one of the UK’s leading theatre companies for its 2018 musical theatre production — the first to be staged in association with a professional company. Scotland’s national conservatoire, one of the world’s top three performing arts institutions, will partner with the award-winning Dundee Rep to bring the Broadway hit, Spring Awakening, to audiences in Glasgow and Dundee in March 2018. The venture will create a unique educational experience for Royal Conservatoire students who will work alongside and learn from the only permanent acting ensemble in Scotland and the theatre’s design and creative team.
As a cross-Conservatoire production, Spring Awakening will bring together students from the Musical Theatre, Music, Production Arts and Design and Production Technology Management programmes. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is ranked in the world top three for performing arts education and is number one in Scotland for graduate employability (97%). Scotland’s national conservatoire offers the only arts education of its kind in Europe, with specialised teaching across music, drama, dance, production and film.
Hugh Hodgart, Director of Drama, Dance, Production and Film at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, told the Mumble; ‘The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland has had a very warm and collaborative relationship with the Rep for many years and past interactions have proved to be mutually beneficial to both organisations and our audiences — BA Acting students’ involvement in minor roles in the award-winning 2007 production of Peer Gynt being a shining example. That was an invaluable learning opportunity, not only for our students but for the members of the ensemble who seized the opportunity to act informally as mentors as well as welcome the students into the company as equals. This new joint venture is not merely a continuation but a step change in our relationship, being the first Royal Conservatoire of Scotland production to be staged in Scotland in association with a professional company, and with their actors playing key roles. There is an equally strong partnership planned for our production students who will be fulfilling key roles behind the scenes. I am absolutely delighted and most grateful to our friends at the Rep for joining us in this exciting venture. I hope it will be the first of many.’
Spring Awakening opens in Glasgow on March 13 2018 for four nights which includes an exclusive gala performance on March 16. It will transfer to Dundee Rep Theatre on March 22 for three nights. Both venues will include matinee performances. Students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s BA Production Arts and Design and BA Production Technology and Management programmes will create, build and operate the spectacular sets, costumes and stage effects that have become a signature of the Royal Conservatoire’s musical theatre productions. Around 20 first and third year technical and stage management students on the BA Production Technology and Management programme will work on Spring Awakening. There will also be input from around 30 students from all years of the BA Production Arts and Design programme during the construction period, who will work on set, props, costume and scenic painting.
Winner of eight Tony awards, four Oliviers and a Grammy for best original cast album, Spring Awakening redefined the boundaries between music and theatre when it debuted on Broadway in 2006. It’s a raw portrayal of adolescents on the brink of adulthood, who are trying to make sense of their strong new feelings. Desires, emotions and hormones rush to the surface in this hard hitting punk-rock musical. Professor Andrew Panton, Artistic Director of Musical Theatre at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the newly-appointed Artistic Director of Dundee Rep, told the Mumble: ‘We took our 2017 production of Chess to a new city for the first time, to Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre, and we wanted to build on that as the students loved transferring to the professional stage.Working with Dundee Rep will give our students phenomenal industry experience. Our musical theatre students and musicians will share the stage with some of Scotland’s leading actors while our production and technical students will hone their skills not only in their ‘home’ theatre, the New Athenaeum in Glasgow, but in one of the country’s leading arts venues. Our students will perform in two great, creative, Scottish cities where audiences have the chance to support the next generation of Scottish, UK and International performance and production artists.’
TRON 100 FESTIVAL
20 – 24 JUNE 2017
The Tron 100 Festival is entering its second year with a week of new short plays written, performed and directed by members of the Tron Theatre’s professional development initiative, the Tron 100 Club. Spanning from new writing to devised work over five nights of performance, the Festival will celebrate the talent and creative collaborations established by the artistic community of the Tron 100.
Each evening of The Tron 100 Festival week, four creative teams, comprising some of today’s most exciting breakthrough playwrights, actors and directors, will present a line-up of fifteen-minute performances. Audiences will see a different programme of work each night, making every evening of the Festival a premiere of brand new theatre pieces.
For the Tron 100 Festival, members of the Tron 100 are being mentored by theatre professionals in the creation of their new works, receiving support and advice from Philip Howard, Lesley Hart, Susannah Armitage, Dougie Irvine and Lisa Nicoll to help bring their projects to the stage.
The Tron 100 Festival gives participants the chance to apply skills and practices they have developed throughout the Tron 100 workshops season in collaboration with theatre companies including Random Accomplice, Theatre Gecko, Bush Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, Paines Plough, Puppet Animation Scotland and Frantic Assembly and with individuals such as Stephen Greenhorne, Philip Howard, David Hayman, Gary Lewis, Joe Douglas, David Leddy, Gareth Nicholls, Morag Fullarton, and Rob Drummond
20th May-10th June
Script: Stagecraft: Performance:
As spring and summer waltzes with flourish into the streets of Scotland’s capital, we are being given the wonderful opportunity to witness Linda Mclean’s adaption of the youthful adventures of Mary Queen of Scots. As a varied audience take its seats, the lone figure of John Knox (Jamie Sives) is standing clutching his bible, eagerly awaiting the arrival in Leith of Mary. With a moderate, but appealing, set design of chairs, arches and a central moving platform, the mood was set. Know was the only male actor, and his place amidst seven female roles was a fresh breath of theatrical air. Of these, Mary is of course the most important, & she is portrayed through different channels as her life is unveiled.
The delicate subject of Queenship and Religion is smoothed over with injections of modern humor and chart- topping songs, allowing the audience the chance to revel in unexpected laughter. Meeting after meeting, the intensity of Mary and John Knox”s relationship is apparent. The tone strengthens, the words tighten and the facial expressions twist. The tension is clear to see and feel; emotional , intriguing, moving, with the dramatic reliefs paced expertly, the consummate creativeness of this play is more than obvious.
Flowing like a fast river with an imminent dam at the end, this hollowed friendship is cursed by belief and religion. The tale of Mary Queen of Scots is well known to be full of sadness and difficulties, but this particular plays conveys a lighter and more graceful queen. To take a historical part of Scottish history and tell it with a twist and splash of humor was entertaining and genius. A journey of true feelings and satisfaction engulfed the auditorium as Mary said goodbye. Well crafted, scripted and acted, this is a definite one to see this spring.
Reviewed by Raymondo Speedie
A Play, A Pie and A Pint
Impoverished and exiled in Scotland, old King Maximilian of Octavia (a land of mud, turnips and toxic waste) slumps in a seedy armchair with a tartan blanket round his legs, telling unlikely tales of his imperial past to his son, Crown Prince Pauli. Max’s reduced circumstances are made worse by the food his son insists on bringing home. Goji berries, green lentils and brown rice do not delight a royal palate, descended we are told from Charlemagne. Despite fears for his safety, Max daydreams of returning to his homeland. He makes plans for an international airport that will never be built and practices speeches that will never be heard. He swears there are riches hidden in lead lined trunks, buried high up an Octavian mountain but for now, he has only a wealth of ancient stories to pass on.
The script by Sean Hardie invites us to wonder if Max, (Jimmy Chisholm) is of noble lineage or a deluded senior citizen being humoured by a compassionate Pauli (Daniel Cahill). This is very much Max’s play and the excellent Mr Chisholm, at times fragile then positively Puckish, uses phones, windows and the audience itself to deliver yarn after entertaining yarn. Watch out for the hand jiving!
Reviewer : David G Moffat
This August a certain play called ‘From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads’ shall be winging its way into the Edinburgh Fringe. The Mumble caught up with writer/director Adrian Berry for a wee chat
Hello Adrian, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
From: Nottingham, where a folk legend taught us to steal from the rich and give to the poor, an ethos I still live by. At: Helsinki, sitting on a harbour, waiting to meet a circus performer. Clear blue sky, aggressive seagulls and a shrimp on rye sandwich – possibly why they’re so angry at me.
When did you first feel the pull of the dramatic arts?
I did the sound effects for The Dracula Spectacular on my Juno S60 synthesiser at school, aged 13. I bought it from my mum’s catalogue with my paper round money. I didn’t want to perform back then but loved making weird scary noises to back the show.
What for you makes a good piece of theatre?
Anything that breaks through that audience/artist divide, draws you in, makes you feel active as opposed to passive. Great stories, physicality, visceral energy, focus, heart. Not Chekhov or Ibsen. My absolute turns-offs. Bit unfair maybe, but I find that classicist stuff so dull.
What can you tell us about your role as Artistic Director of Jacksons Lane contemporary circus theatre?
I get to create exciting programs of circus, theatre, art, cabaret, and travel to thrilling places to bring artists to the UK. I have a wonderful team who love and support the work and live for it. And I love our quirky old building and the diversity of our audiences. I wake up inspired, for which I feel so lucky.
What do you like to do when you’re not being theatrical?
I play bass and write songs and sometimes tour in the band Alberteen, I cycle to random places, I explore London on foot, I listen obsessively to vinyl, currently 80s west coast hiphop, Angel Olsen and Finnish blues (as of last night when an artist gave me a record).
You will be bringing From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads’ to Edinburgh this August, can you tell us about the play?
It’s three stories that converge – a tale of our capital city and things that are lost, about a boy with mental health problems who escapes through his fantasies, and the amazing birth, childhood and journey of David Bowie. It all comes together at the end, and people seem to love it, happily.
As a musician yourself, is the play somewhat autobiographical?
In parts, yes. Less so the Bowie bit as that came later in life, but the claustrophobic working class upbringing, escapism through glamorous androgynous pop stars and the excitement of music….yes there’s a lot of me in there for sure.
How does your own experience in the band Alberteen influence the play?
Oh you knew about us. Ummmm…no I cannot say there is a comparison. Well actually maybe there is, as me and the boys went to the same school and I joined an early version of Alberteen as a creative outlet aged 14. It was everything I wanted to be – I still feel the pull of the band, more and more so. Everything I write has a musical influence- it all gels as part of my creative life I guess.
What has been the typical audience response?
Tears, joy, gratitude, loss, letters, gifts, hugs…genuinely. 75 shows, so much love and words. I didn’t expect it.
In one sentence can you describe the experience of performing in Edinburgh in August
A total headf*** rollercoaster beautiful expensive experience.
What will you be doing after the Fringe?
Recording a new EP with Alberteen and playing a tour of seaside piers in forgotten English seaside towns, and thinking about my next show based on a famous American hotel.
A Play, a Pie and a Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow
Script: Stagecraft: Performance:
A Scottish living room of leather chesterfields, flock wall paper and a crackled mirror, hosts a theatrical couple preparing to go out for the evening, in this play by Peter McDougall. An aging actress Marcia (Alison Peebles), wearing a crown of hair rollers and walking with a stick, sets the frank tone by comparing her own wrinkled face unfavourably to King Kong’s arse. She has a list of waspish complaints about the modern theatre from the lack of glamour, to tattooed producers. Her younger husband James (Billy McBain), an unpublished playwright who we feel has listened to her numerous dramatic whinges many times before, encourages her to accept things as they are, not as they were. If he can cope with his lack of success why can’t she? Eventually their satin dressing gowns are removed to reveal full evening dress, for tonight is the night of the BAFTA Ball.
There are shades of Burton and Taylor in the ding-dong dialogue with a touch of Sunset Boulevard for good measure. A sort of ‘Who’s Afraid of Norma Desmond?’
This is a word-packed play with lots of laughter-inducing quips to enjoy but occasionally as the metaphors bounced back and forth, the discourse did sound a bit recited rather than acted.
Reviewer : David G Moffat
The Gilded Balloon and Kinbur Productions have revived Michael Burrell’s award winning one-man play, HESS, a poignant and haunting production that has stimulated, moved and provoked debate. A hit of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016, directed by Kim Kinnie and ‘meticulously’ performed by Derek Crawford Munn, HESS has already played at Eden Court Theatre, Inverness, on 03 May and will hit The Tolbooth, Stirling on 20 May before it heads to the Prague Fringe from 26 May to 3 June 2017. The Mumble managed to catch MR Meticulous himself, Derek Crawford Munn, for a wee chat
Hello Derek, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
I was born in Renfrewshire in the village of Inchinnan… although over the years I have lived in a few places around the UK, I’m now back in Renfrewshire near my family in Bridge of Weir.
When did you first feel the pull of the dramatic arts?
I’ve been ‘performing’ from an early age, in everything from school plays to local drama clubs. My first professional paying acting job was in 1988, which was closely followed by 3 years in The then Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and I’ve luckily been working in the industry since.
What for you makes a good piece of theatre?
I’m sure my answer to this question won’t be original, but good theatre for me is anything that completely engages an audience. Whether that be with laughter, tears or shocks. If you’re lucky enough to be either in or watching a great piece, the tell tale sign is the ‘pin drop’ moment, by that I mean the moment when both audience and cast are completely immersed in the experience.
What does Derek Crawford Munn like to do when he’s not being theatrical?
Hobbies? My dog I suppose, and a great love for travelling and exploring our beautiful country.
You are just about to take Michael Burrell’s HESS on the road. Can you tell us about the play?
HESS was originally performed by its writer Michael Burrell in 1976 at the Young Vic. The play is essentially the life of the Deputy Fuhrer. It also works on several levels as a comment on rehabilitation of the incarcerated, as a detailed description on the rise of the Third Reich, and finally but most importantly, a most timely and pertinent warning from history on the dangers of right wing extremism.
Hess was a complicated character, does that come out in the script?
Yes the complexity of his character is very evident throughout, and pretty much displays itself by both engaging the audience’s sympathy and it’s revulsion.
How did audiences respond when it was performed at last year’s Fringe?
The audience reaction at the fringe was pretty overwhelming. With almost everyone who saw the show being extremely complementary. Without question though, the best moment for me, was when I was visited by a gentleman in his 80’s, who had been a medical officer in the British guard contingent. Getting the compliment “You even caught his mannerisms” from a gentleman who had examined and actually spoken to HESS was a moment I won’t forget.
Does it not feel lonely up there, when you are doing a one-man show?
Not at all! In fact I don’t think I’ve ever been in a piece that engages with the audience as much as this one. If there’s any loneliness its during the rehearsal period, where there’s no-one to bounce off or even have a break and a coffee with.
You are just about to take Hess to the Prague Fringe, what’s the backstory?
No denying I’m hugely excited that I’m off to Prague for the festival there. There are many personal reasons I want the piece to do well there, not so much for my benefit, but for all those who surround it, and have been involved in getting us this far. As I said earlier, we sadly lost Michael in 2014, and considering the great success he had with it first time round, and of course his brilliant writing, I am very keen to give it as much exposure as possible, and that it should be the memorial to him it deserves to be.
What does the rest of 2017 hold in store for Derek Crawford Munn?
I’m hoping for more of the same really. At almost 60 years old I’m still pretty young in HESS terms, as he is in his eighties in the play, so it would be nice to think that I can tour the play for quite some time yet! And as any actor worth the name will always tell you, “this could be the one” So who knows, maybe you can interview me again in 20 years timE!
May 9th -13th
Script: Stagecraft: Performance:
On entering the auditorium the audience find a stage tableau of four men frozen in the act of reading about, listening to or adjusting radio equipment. Their brilliantined hair, white shirts and braces (reminiscent of a Vettriano painting) place the inaction back in the mid 20th century. A throbbing bass note from the huge sound desk at the back of the stage contrasts with the terribly, terribly plumy voice of the play’s eponymous narrator portrayed by Isobel McArthur (joint author with Paul Brotherston). She informs us that humans are imperfect, incapable of making precisely the same sounds again and again, unlike a Radiophonic Workshop.
What follows is the story of Daphne Oram’s fascination with sound reproduction, from a girl scribbling diagrams and doctoring radios to a woman pioneering audio effects for the BBC. A true visionary, she faces opposition or at best indifference from Aunty BBC and its committee culture. Eventually the redoubtable Miss Oram prevails via the Drama Department. (Those of a certain age will enjoy the references to PC 49 and the struggle to get a noise for danger that wasn’t a cymbal clash!)
There is much to admire here from the live sound score provided by Anneke Kampman to the ensemble cast of Robin Hellier, David James Kirkwood, Dylan Read and Matthew Seagar who skilfully vary roles, accents and genders; their slow-motion scene changes are a balletic delight. An excellent production that educates, informs and entertains.
Reviewer : David G Moffat
8th – 13th May 2017
Review 1 : Daniel Donnelly
The Oran Mor is now a major venue for all things entertainment, including the play pie & & pint theatrical lunch break. On taking our seats, an announcement sprang up which told us both the venue’s success and the accomplishment of the award-winning production team behind Beg Borrow Steal, a modern take on the civil disparity between fairness and injustice. The play was quite realistic in dealing with the matter, a subdued mishmash of conversation set in a situational work piece. My friends have children, & I could well appreciate the times when Tess (played by Molly Innes) would break down while on the telephone. Character development is extremely important to this play; on the one hand we have a woman who really, really cares & on the other a youthful deviant at odds with the world.
I must admit there was a moment or two which felt out of place, a little over arty perhaps, but this play’s true strength lies in its uncannily accurate social commentary; are we actually seeing reflections of ourselves? Like all our personal relationships, Tess & Cher – played by Natalie McCleary – grew close then fell apart, while at all times carrying the emotional content of their liason in sometimes guarded words, and sometimes louder for emotional turmoil. Beg Borrow Steal & all its key messages felt right in just so many ways, & I enjoyed the thrill of piecing together an unfolding story, when as our thoughts reach their conclusions, these turn out to be more of beginnings than anything else.
Review 2 : David G Moffat
This play by David MacLennan Award winner Anita Alexander Rae, explores the relationship between Cher (Natali McCleary) a 23 year old shoplifter with attitude and Tess (Molly Innes) an incredibly understanding store-security manager. The latter has issues with her estranged daughter or more accurately her daughter’s voicemail which inevitably greets her every call. Perhaps this is why she has such sympathy for the younger woman and sees her repeated offending, not as straight-forward theft but more a cry for help. Over larcenous weeks a tenuous bond is established, with Cher becoming a kind of surrogate daughter to Tess, offering her advice on relationships and shoes while revealing bleak details of her own family life.
The different occasions when Cher is held in the office to have her fate decided (I counted five) are separated by slight scene changes accompanied with relevant sound effects which work well within themselves but do leave the overall action somewhat disjointed. Would anyone really give a shoplifter that amount of free passes? Wouldn’t store owner Mr Carrot insist a frequent offender be banged-up? Well if Hamlet topped his uncle in scene 1 there wouldn’t be a play. That said an hour’s running time did seem on the longish side.
Citizens Theatre Glasgow
3rd-20th May 2017
Script: Stagecraft: Performance:
Henry Pulling, 55, a retired bank manager and confirmed bachelor, has been living a sheltered life in the leafy suburb of Southwood tending to his beloved dahlias. At his mother’s funeral he meets his formidable 76 year old Aunt Augusta for the first time in 50 years; his life will never be the same again as she coerces him into travelling with her to Brighton, Paris, Istanbul, Boulogne and, finally, Paraguay. In the course of their journeys he discovers that his aunt has lead a racy and dissolute life of petty crime and prostitution and has had several lovers over the years, the chief among these being the shady Mr Visconti. Over the course of the play Henry is increasingly drawn in to Aunt Augusta’s lifestyle and eventually becomes as immersed in the shady side as his aunt.
This play is an adaptation by Giles Havergal of Graham Greene’s 1969 novel Travels With My Aunt and although regarded as a comic novel there are some darker undercurrents at play as the story unfolds. The adaptation sticks pretty closely to the original story and, indeed, much of the dialogue is pretty much verbatim from the novel. Havergal’s device is to use only four (male) actors for all the 20 or so characters in the play and director Phillip Breen has made a good job of pitching the performance in such a way that serves the story well while avoiding any possible confusion as the actors rotate through their multiple parts. The stage set is very simple and stark and uses projected place names on the rear wall to keep you up with the locale of the action. Actor 4, Ewan Somers, is used almost as a mime-come stage-manager and has a hilarious turn as a German General’s Irish Wolfhound that comes to a very sticky end. Ian Redford is particularly effective as Henry/Augusta with Tony Cownie and Joshua Richards dealing with a multitude of different characters. A nice touch is the change from dark old-school city gent suits in the first part to tropical white suits in the second and the subtle lighting gave a real feeling of the Paraguayan heat.
By no stretch of the imagination can either the novel or the play be categorised as laugh-out-loud funny although there are many moments which raise a smile and there is the occasional moment of real laughter. Some of Greene’s attitudes to race are very much of their time and would not be recognised now, although this play manages to curb the worst excesses. At nearly two hours in total the audience was kept unflaggingly entertained throughout and accompanying Henry’s journey to a possible idyllic life in Paraguay is well worth seeing.
Reviewer: David Ivens