Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Cyrano de Bergerac: Introducing Nikola Kodjabashia

The creative team behind Cyrano de Bergerac are working hard preparing for opening night on the 1st September. (If you haven't got your tickets yet, you can book them here.) 

We've already introduced our costume designer Pam Hogg and set designer Tom Piper. This week we’re getting to know the inimitable Nikola Kodjabashia. Read on to find out more about the Macedonian composer, conductor and sound designer. 

“All composers want to sound unique – but few manage to be as distinctive as Nikola Kodjabashia…” (John L Walters, Guardian, July 2014)

Nikola Kodjabashia in rehearsals for Cyrano
Image by Tim Morozzo 

Nikola is considered to be one of the most eminent representatives of the Balkan and Eastern European musical avant-garde today. After studying music in Bucharest and at King's College London, Nikola's 
first job in theatre was as musical director of Sir Peter Hall’s production of The Bacchai at the National Theatre. Since then he has composed scores for arts organisations across the UK and Europe including Young Vic, the Donmar Warehouse, Traverse Theatre, HOME Manchester and Macedonian National Opera.  You can listen to some of his music here.

Nikola's distinctive soundscapes have been central to many of Dominic Hill’s most popular productions at the Citizens Theatre, including Crime and Punishment which earned him a 2014 CATS nomination in the Music and Sound category. Typically the full cast are involved in creating the unusual melodies and evocative sound effects which are performed live on stage. Here's a round-up of Nikola's past Citz productions:


Oresteia: This Restless House

Hansel and Gretel

A Christmas Carol


Crime and Punishment

Cyrano de Bergerac is a co-production with the National Theatre of Scotland and Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh. It runs at Tramway 1 - 22 Sep, The Lyceum 12 - 3 Nov and Eden Court 7 - 10 Nov. 


Monday, 6 August 2018

Cyrano de Bergerac: Introducing Tom Piper

Meet the brilliant creative team behind Cyrano de Bergerac! Last week we introduced our Costume Designer Pam Hogg, this week we’re getting to know the talented Set Designer Tom Piper.

Tom originally trained as a biologist but, luckily for us, was seduced by design when he got involved with student theatre at Cambridge in the mid-80s. He swapped course and took up Art History instead. During his university days Tom designed more than 30 plays – including for his friend and former classmate the stage and film Director Sam Mendes.

Tom says that he got his big breakthrough whilst at Slade Art School in 1990. It was there that he met Costume and Production Designer Chloé Obolensky, who invited him to work with her in Paris on Peter Brook's production of the Tempest. From this point, Tom's career has gone from strength to strength. As Associate Designer of the Royal Shakespeare Company (2004 - 2014), Tom designed over 30 of their shows including The Histories for which he won an Olivier for best costume design.

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red
Image by Paul Cummins (CC By-SA 3.0)
As well as set design Tom has created some impressive exhibitions. Most famously, he worked with the Artist Paul Cummins on Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red. The exhibition struck a chord with the public and was seen by over five million people. It won several awards including the London First Award for Cultural Excellence, Special Award Civic Trust, and the Heroes Award from the charity Help the Heroes. In recognition of the work, Tom and Paul were also both awarded the MBE in the 2015 New Year Honours. Other recent exhibitions include Winnie-the-Pooh; Exploring a Classic at the V&A, and Shakespeare Staging The World at the British Museum. 

Long Day's Journey Into Night was nominated for a CATS Award for Best Design in 2018.
Image by Tim Morozzo
Cyrano de Bergerac isn't Tom’s first collaboration with Citizens Theatre Artistic Director Dominic Hill. Tom and Dominic have worked together on many classic Citz shows including King Lear (2012), The Libertine (2014), Hamlet (2014), Hay Fever (2017) and Long Day’s Journey Into Night (2018). They've also teamed up on productions at Dundee Rep (including on Twelfth Night - winner of Best Design CATS Award) and the Traverse Theatre. Their partnerships are always eye-catching and we’re looking forward to seeing what they come up with for Cyrano de Bergerac.

For more insights into Tom's design process have a listen to the Citizens Theatre podcast, where he chats to Lighting Designer Ben Ormerod about their longstanding collaboration with Dominic Hill. You can also visit his website at www.tompiperdesign.co.uk 

Cyrano de Bergerac is a co-production with the National Theatre of Scotland and Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh. It runs at Tramway 1 – 22 Sep, The Lyceum 12 Oct – 3 Nov and Eden Court 7 – 10 Nov. 


Thursday, 12 July 2018

Cyrano de Bergerac: Introducing Dr Pam Hogg

Get to know the talented creative team behind our co-production of Edwin Morgan's translation of Cyrano de Bergerac! Over the next few weeks we’ll be introducing some of the gang.

First up is our Costume Designer – the iconic Scottish fashion designer, rock star and artist Dr Pam Hogg. Read on to find out why Pam is one of our favourite Glasgow Girls!

Pam receiving her Honorary Doctorate at GSA Graduation  

Pam grew up in the city and studied Fine Art and Printed Textiles at the beloved Glasgow School of Art. She was the first ever person to hold a fashion design exhibition at city landmark Kelvingrove Art Gallery. As a local lass she should have no problem understanding Edwin Morgan's Glaswegian Scots verse. 

Since launching her debut fashion collection in 1981, Pam’s bold and rebellious designs have been worn by many high-profile stars including Siouxsie Sioux, Björk, Kylie Minogue, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, and Rihanna. 

Singer Paloma Faith in a Pam Hogg War Child t-shirt (Image via Instagram)

Fashion isn’t her only passion and Pam revealed in a Guardian interview that music is her ‘first love’. As a musician she has supported The Pogues, Blondie and The Raincoats.

In 2016 she got to combine her love of music and design when she was invited to create The Brit Award statuettes. Previous designers of the award include Vivienne Westwood, Sir Peter Blake, Damien Hirst, Phillip Treacy and Tracy Emin. Pam, however, was the first to develop bespoke trophies for each of the winners.

The Brit Award trophies 
Her own award cabinet is full to the brim. After leaving art school she won the Newbury Medal of Distinction, the Frank Warner Memorial Medal, the Leverhulme Scholarship and the Royal Society of Arts Bursary. In 2013 Pam also received the Creative Excellence Award from The Scottish Fashion Council.

Described by Terry Wogan as "one of the most original, inventive, creative designers in Britain", we absolutely agree and are really looking forward to having her designs as part of Cyrano de Bergerac.

If you can’t wait until September to see some of Pam’s work, she has a solo exhibition opening in Liverpool this weekend: Dr Hogg’s Divine Disorder, an exhibition of art, fashion and photography.
Cyrano de Bergerac is a co-production with the National Theatre of Scotland and Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh. It runs at Tramway 1 – 22 Sep, The Lyceum 12 Oct – 3 Nov and Eden Court 7 – 10 Nov. 


Friday, 18 May 2018

Q & A with Lizi Ridgway from the cast of A Night To Remember

A Night To Remember will be the final Citizens Theatre production before we move out of our home in the Gorbals to enable a major redevelopment to take place. The story takes audiences back in time to the building's previous incarnation as the Royal Princess's Theatre for an evening of variety set on one eventful night in 1918.

The show features a large community cast made up of participants in the many drama activities and groups run by the Citizens Theatre as well as people from the local area, from across the city and beyond.

Lizi Ridgway is one of the cast members. Here, she fills us in on what it's like to be part of the production and how things are going in the rehearsal room ahead of opening night next week.

Lizi Ridgway

This is your first performance at the Citizens, why did you decide to get involved in A Night To Remember?

I always loved doing drama and music when I was at school but life got in the way once I left and started work. I had to content myself with being a drama queen in day-to-day life and the odd bit of karaoke. Earlier this year, after realising I had nothing to lose I dipped my toe with an amateur dramatics group. This only made me even keener! When I saw A Night To Remember advertised on the Citizens website I thought it sounded like a really interesting project so I dropped an email. I never thought I would be lucky enough to take part.

One of the many clothing rails stacking up in our wardrobe department for this epic community production

Can you tell us a bit about what you do in the play?

Through the course of the show I get to act out lots of different roles, including a patriot and a nurse. It's such a great ensemble piece as we all get to be involved in the very varied parts of the play. I guess it's a bit like life, where we are all different things at different times to different people.

What has been your favourite part of the process so far?

We always start with some excellent 'larking about' led by Neil (Citizens Theatre's Community Drama Director). I fully believe we don't get enough opportunities to play as adults. Getting to run about and be silly has been brilliant. From a more serious point of view, it has been really interesting learning about life 100 years ago. We really get to put ourselves in the character's shoes.

Lizi in the rehearsal room 

A Night To Remember is the final Citz production ahead of a major redevelopment. What are your hopes for the new building?

I love the way that the building currently has the beautiful, original features merged with more modern areas. I hope that this mix will continue in the new, revamped Citizens. The idea of having the statues looking down over the front of the building is very cool too.

Is there anything else you'd like to share about the project?

I really didn't know what to expect when I went to the first taster evening. To be honest I was nervous. I didn't know anyone and didn't have a lot of experience. Since I took the leap I've learnt so much (including 60 people's names!) and had a lot of fun. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with myself once the production is over. One thing is for sure, I will be looking to take part in Nightschool and hoping to be involved in future Community Theatre projects. I would highly recommend the whole experience to anyone.

Cast members in the rehearsal room

A Night To Remember will be the final Citizens production ahead of our building redevelopment. It runs 23 - 26 May. BOOK NOW

Part of the Southside Fringe Programme

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

A bit of 1918 style entertainment! The Citizen's history of variety

Our upcoming production A Night To Remember will take audiences back in time to our building’s origins as the Royal Princess’s Theatre for an evening of variety set on one eventful night 100 years ago.  

Variety and music hall are central to Scottish theatrical history. The genres shaped local audiences’ tastes for an accessible, engaging style of theatre that is fast-moving and funny as well as dramatically exciting. Here, we take a look back at where it all began: 

Did you know our poster design for A Night To Remember (right) is based on a stain glass window from the Royal Princess's Theatre (left) which is in place in our dress circle bar.  

Music hall emerged in taverns and coffee houses across Britain in the middle of the 19th century. It involved a mixture of popular songs, comedy, dance and speciality acts. Performers entertained whilst the audiences ate, drank and joined in with the singing. Music hall’s popularity spread and it quickly became a favourite British pastime. The genre was regional in character and reactive to local tastes. In Scotland, for example, music hall performances often featured traditional Scots songs and music and the poetry of Robert Burns. 

By the early 20th century music hall had started to fade away, and was gradually replaced with variety. Although similar in style to music hall, variety was more formal, audience participation was discouraged and new-purpose built theatres were created across Britain. The buildings often featured beautiful, ornate auditoriums with chandeliers, gold leaf decorations and red velvet seats. In Glasgow, venues such as the Empire Palace, Pavilion and Alhambra all became city centre landmarks, highlighting the importance of the genre for the city. 

Exterior of the Royal Princess's Theatre. Image from Scottish Theatre Archive
Ref: STA PH 483

The Royal Princess's variety programme featured names such as Neil Kenyon, Marie Kendall, Wal Langtry, Ella Retford and Florrie Forde. During the era, Scotland produced a wide range of home-grown variety stars including:

Tommy Lorne 
Image from the Scottish Theatre Archive.
Ref: STA H.h. 11
Tommy Lorne was a natural clown who starred in the Royal Princess's well-loved pantomimes. Born in the Cowcaddens area of Glasgow in 1890, some of his catch phrases even entered the local vocabulary - including "In the name of the wee man" and "Ah'll get ye, and if Ah don't get you the coos'll get ye!"

Grace Clark & Colin Murray
Image from the Scottish Theatre Archive.
This husband and wife team were better known as 'Mr and Mrs Glasgow'. Their comedy sketches portrayed Grace as the tough, tyrannical wife and Colin as the long-suffering husband. The duo starred in several Scottish Royal Variety performances and were awarded the British Empire Medial in 1982. 

Will Fyffe
Image from the Scottish Theatre Archive.
Ref: STA JLC PH 55 
The Dundee-born entertainer appeared on stage, radio, television and film. He was so well liked that a variety theatre in Glasgow ran a 'Will Fyffe' competition, where hopefuls entered to sing the star's best known song 'I belong to Glasgow'. Disguising himself, Will entered for a bet and won second prize!

The popularity of variety across much of the UK began to diminish in the 1930s as audiences turned to the talking pictures. The Royal Princess's Theatre was converted to a cinema, and later a bingo hall. The Citizens Theatre Company then took over the building in 1945 and developed an innovative programme of new plays and classic texts. But this May we are going back to our roots with a bit of 1918 style entertainment, and we hope you'll join us at the Citizens Theatre for A Night To Remember!

A Night To Remember is a community production, with a company drawn from the Gorbals and across Glasgow. It runs from 23 - 26 May. Tickets available from £10.50. Book Now.

Part of the Southside Fringe Programme


Monday, 9 April 2018

Getting Long Day's Journey Into Night ready for opening night

Assistant Director George Nichols reflects on the final few days of Long Day's Journey Into Night rehearsals:

At the time of writing, it is the day of our first preview, after having completed our technical rehearsal and two dress rehearsals. As this will (probably) be my last blog for this production I thought I’d talk about how everything comes together, and talk about some of the work that goes on in the build up to our opening night.

Production photography by Tim Morozzo

The work in the auditorium begins long before the cast and director arrive. While rehearsals are ongoing, the technical staff here set about turning Tom Piper’s design into a reality from technical drawings and of course, the model box. For those that don’t know a model box is a model of the final design but at a 1/25 ratio, so is basically a much smaller version of the set. This allows production team and the company to see what the set will eventually look like. 

Production photography by Tim Morozzo
The set design is complimented by the lighting. While the set design is likely to be fairly final going into rehearsals, the lighting design is more flexible and created in response to not only the set and costume design, but the action too. As Bríd, who  plays Mary Tyrone, noted: you know things are getting serious when the lighting designer is sitting in rehearsals. Lighting is always important, but it has an added significance in Long Day’s Journey because of James Tyrone’s relationship to the electric lights in his house, and also because we know from biographies about O’Neill that he had a particular interest in theatre lighting. Ben Ormerod’s lighting design does an excellent job of working with the set to accentuate important elements of the play. For example, this production plays with who you can see and when, and what members of the family do and don’t hear of each other’s conversations. By highlighting the stairs when someone is sat there, with a murky light, for example, Ben’s design helps us to tell the story of the play.

Production photography by Tim Morozzo
Another element that is built through rehearsals is the sound design. In our team we have Matt Padden, who is working on the atmospheric soundscape in the play, and Claire McKenzie, who is the composer of the music that features in the production. This has been another quite flexible element of the production, and something that we’ve been playing with throughout rehearsals. Even in previews we will be tweaking what you hear when in order to tell the story more effectively. A lot of thinking goes into when the best time to hear a fog horn might be, or which parts of the play have underscoring.

Production photography by Tim Morozzo

These two weeks are when everything comes together, everyone is working through the day and into the night (remind you of anything) in order to make the production the best it can possibly be. As we move away from the technical rehearsal and into the dresses and previews, the focus is once again on the actors. After each run Dominic notes the cast and we work bits in the space, tweaking things ever so slightly and then noting the effect they have on the audience. This work is about subtle changes and little tweaks, in order that all of the different elements of our production may be balanced perfectly.

Until 5 May

Long Day's Journey Into Night is a co-production with HOME Manchester
Supported by Friends of the Citizens
By arrangement with Josef Weinberger Limited

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Long Day's Journey Into Night: Week Four of rehearsals

Assistant Director George Nichols continues his blog from the rehearsal room of Long Day's Journey Into Night. This week he explains the importance of storytelling : 

It sounds obvious that when staging a play a big part of what you are doing is storytelling. But as anyone who has read a bedtime story to a child will have experienced, it is about more than just reading the words in front of you out loud.

So, how do we tell the story of a play? What tools do we have at our disposal?

One tool is the world we set the story in. Is it set in a completely naturalistic environment, or does it also include elements that are aesthetically poetic and metaphorical? Or is it symbolic? For example, if you were to do a production of Long Day’s Journey Into Night where all of the furniture was made of whiskey crates it would immediately bring alcohol to the fore. On the other hand, Tom Piper’s design for our production strips away the family’s privacy, which has its own effect on the story we are trying to tell.

Another tool is characterisation. When Laurence Olivier played James Tyrone in 1971 people commented on his how thick the Irish part of his Irish American accent was. This may have made James’s impoverished immigrant background more consistently present and set him apart from his sons; illuminating that facet of the story. Another example would be that in our production we’ve talked a lot about James Tyrone’s history as an actor, which in turn will have its own affect on the the story we share with you.

The staging itself is also a tool. As an assistant director one of the messages most impressed on me by the directors I have worked with is to make every moment on stage tell a little story that unlocks a new part of the text to the audience. An example of this from this week’s rehearsals is a moment when Edmund falls to the table in a fit of coughing and knocks over the whiskey bottle. As Jamie sees his brother coughing and the whiskey bottle rolling toward the edge of the table, does he go to help Edmund or does save the whiskey? I won’t give away our choice but this moment, played in two different ways, can tell two different stories.

Of course with a play like Long Day’s Journey Into Night your pneumatic drill (to extend the already tenuous tool box metaphor) is the text. Sometimes one of the hardest things to do is give the audience important information needed for the understanding of the play whilst keeping the action dramatic and engaging. An example this week was when we went back through the first act and reached a conversation between George and Jamie. In this exchange we learn a lot and it sets up much of the action of the rest of the play. For example we hear a bit about Edmund’s illness, about Jamie’s lifestyle, James’ relationship with money and hints about Mary’s morphine addiction. Eugene O'Neill's masterly writing means we are drip fed this information in a way that piques our interest and creates suspense. But rehearsing this can be difficult when you already know the plot so you have to constantly put yourself in your audience’s shoes. It’s great watching Dominic doing this sort of work, as by feeding little notes to the cast about what we learn when, and how they’re using this information to affect each other he manages not only to make the story clear, but charge it in a way that makes it more than just an exchange of facts.

The word ‘vision’ is a bit of a taboo phrase in relation to theatre directing, because it implies that a director might be forcing the story they want to tell on to a text that is doing something completely different. In actuality, storytelling is about working with the text and making lots of small, informed decisions that impact the world, characterisation and action of the play as truthfully and faithfully as possible. We are very much looking forward to sharing this story with you.

13 Apr - 5 May

Long Day's Journey Into Night is a co-production with HOME Manchester
Supported by Friends of the Citizens
By arrangement with Josef Weinberger Limited

Monday, 26 March 2018

Long Day's Journey Into Night: Week Three of Rehearsals

As we enter week four of rehearsals for Long Day's Journey Into Night Assistant Director George Nichols reveals how the play has been progressing so far:

In the rehearsal room this week we’ve been working through the play a second time. Because of the size of the play and the complexity of its language Dominic thought it particularly important that we get through it once before getting too in depth. That means that this week we’ve been asking more difficult questions, and have started to construct the characters and their world in more detail.

It’s a real privilege, from the perspective of a training director, to get to see such an experienced group of people work on one of the greatest plays ever written. Watching how fearlessly everyone is approaching a play of this size and scale, and with such attention to detail, is really humbling. At this point in rehearsals some moments start to really grab you, and you begin to see what the play will end up being. Sometimes a minute change affected by an actor or a note from Dominic can really illuminate a facet of the play that we didn’t understand before. This has made each day feel charged with energy and promise.

Other elements of the production have also started to come together this week. Bits and pieces of costume have started to come into the rehearsal room and temporary props are gradually being replaced with items that Tom Piper, our designer, is happy with. Clare McKenzie, our composer, is making progress on the music that will accompany the production and Matt Padden has been working on pieces of pre-recorded sound too. At the end of the week we welcomed our marketing team to the rehearsal room, along with Rachael from Home Manchester, to shoot our trailer and to take some footage of rehearsals.

All of this work can sometimes feel like it takes you out of the room and away from rehearsals, but it’s vitally important in order to make every aspect of the production as good as it can be. There is such a positive atmosphere around the theatre and with creating the best work possible being the guiding principle for everyone collaborating on the project we know this effort will contribute to an exceptional production of Long Day’s Journey Into Night.

Long Day's Journey Into Night runs at the Citizens Theatre from 13 Apr - 5 May.

It will then go to HOME Manchester 10 - 26 May

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Get to know Eugene O’Neill ahead of Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Eugene O’Neill is one of the most influential writers of the 20thcentury, without him there would be no Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams or Sam Shepard. His Long Day’s Journey Into Night is considered a pinnacle of 20th century American theatre. The autobiographical story is so personal and candid that O’Neill says he wrote it in “blood and tears”, and wouldn't allow it to be published in his lifetime.

So, here's five things you should know about the great American playwright. Swot up and impress your friends ahead of the show!

Eugene O'Neill in 1936
By Nobel Foundation, via Wikimedia Commons

1.       Eugene O’Neill‘s father was an actor whose greatest success was on the road so the family spent most of their lives travelling. O’Neill was actually born in a hotel room in Times Square, New York in 1888. He also died in a hotel room – in Boston in 1953.

2.       Like the character of Edmund in Long Day’s Journey Into Night, O’Neill battled tuberculosis. It was while he was recovering from his illness in a sanatorium that he found his calling as a playwright.

3.       O’Neill is the only American dramatist to be awarded the Nobel Prize, and the only person to have won four Pulitzer Prizes. He first won the Pulitzer Prize aged 31 for Beyond the Horizon. He was also awarded the prize for Anna Christie, Strange Interlude and Long Day’s Journey Into Night. 

4.       O’Neill wrote Long Day’s Journey Into Night for his third wife Carlotta Monterey on their 12th wedding anniversary. He requested that the play only be published 25 years after his death. His widow, however, waited just three years and the play was released in 1956. 

5.      O’Neill  continues to be referenced in literature and film. Jack Nicholson played Eugene O’Neill in Warren Beatty’s 1981 film Reds. Nicholson was nominated for the Academy Award for best Supporting Actor for his performance. 

Lorn Macdonald and Bríd Ní Neachtain in rehearsals for Long Day's Journey Into Night

Long Day’s Journey Into Night runs at the Citizens Theatre from 13 Apr – 5 May.
It will then go to HOME Manchester 10 - 26 May.


Amanda Gaughan

All of us at the Citizens Theatre were sad to hear the news this week of the death of theatre director Amanda Gaughan.

Amanda Gaughan. Image from Playwrights' Studio Scotland
Amanda was at the Citizens as a Trainee Director in 2011- 12, when she worked on Dennis Kelly's After the End and Roman Bridge by Martin Travers. She recently worked again with Martin on Annville, his new play in Scots and English which was presented at the Citizens Theatre, and at New Lanark and the Scottish Storytelling Centre. Amanda also directed a number of productions for the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh and the National Theatre of Scotland. 

Martin Travers, our Learning Producer, said this of Amanda: "Amanda Gaughan was creatively fearless. She had a fiery desire to make great work and had a gift for understanding the all too human relationships in plays that make theatre dramatic and emotionally charged.  She was a rare and precious talent. A Scottish female director that could deliver big plays onto main stages but was also brilliant when developing new writing – she could cut a new play like a jeweller cuts stones. We’ll miss her laugh and we’ll miss her smile and her energy and passion for life and theatre-making."

Everyone at the Citizens Theatre is thinking of Amanda's friends and families, and remembering the time that Amanda spent with us.