Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler - Who Is Ivor Cutler?

Who is Ivor Cutler?

By Fiona Shepherd
From National Theatre Of Scotland

"It is up to you whether you read advice is just to ignore it" 
– Ivor Cutler

Some know him as the lugubrious bus conductor Buster Bloodvessel in The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour; others as the self-styled “stupid genius” who recorded more John Peel sessions than any other act, bar The Fall. It is reckoned that he was the only artist to have featured on Radios 1, 2, 3 and 4 – a renaissance man, but with cult appeal.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Volunteers Wanted for On Common Ground

On Common Ground is one of our biggest projects ever – and we'd like YOU to be part of it!

Global Savage at Citizens Theatre. Image by Ron Berti
On Saturday 22 March from 11am - 12.30pm and Monday 24 March from 6.30 - 8pm, you can come along to one of our FREE information sessions to find out more about how you can get involved in our Festival 2014 event On Common Ground

Friday, 28 February 2014

Benjamin Zephaniah - Refugee Boy

Benjamin Zephaniah wrote Refugee Boy in 2001, but that wasn’t the end by any means. It is now a key text in schools all over the country, and has achieved world-renowned acclaim. The novel was adapted for the stage by poet Lemn Sissay, whose own life-story gave a powerful insight into the play.

Here, Benjamin talks about the novel and why the play adaptation is equally important.

What do you think makes Refugee Boy a powerful story?
At the heart of it, it’s a play about a human condition that you hear about on the news, but that not all of us are familiar with - it tends to be talked about in terms of statistics nowadays.  When I started the novel, and Lemn plays with the same concept, you’re not taking sides. You’re saying ‘this is just a result of war’, you’re not saying one is better then the other. When you do all your politics, don’t forget about the people’. And people in the audience know that you're not preaching to them, you’re saying ‘ you’re fighting but look what you’re doing to human beings'.

And it's a genuine story?

I didn't have a great education so I have to be connected to my community - the story of Refugee Boy came from the story of a lot of other refugees living next door to me in East London, only after I wrote it did I do research to check I’d got the court procedures right. I wrote it from what 14-15 year old kids were telling me. I’ve never thought art should be elitist, it’s alright sharing ideas but eventually those ideas have to connect with people in the real world.

Although it’s about a teenager this play resonates with all ages. Why do you think that is?

The innocence of Alem, it’s not a naive one; he’s flown into a  country where everything’s strange, he’s in a children’s home which are strange places. To come straight from Ethiopia and then straight into a children’s home, which is a really bizarre corner of our country, and then to an Irish family - he’s trying to work it all out and people go along with that, people believe it. Anyone that’s been a child in a strange place and who know what it’s like to look up and think ‘what are these adults doing?’ will recognise this. 

What did you think when you were approached about Refugee Boy being adapted for the stage?
I heard from Gail McIntyre saying she wanted to adapt it and immediately thought it should be. You usually write your novel and then you let it go but with Refugee Boy people were always asking, are you going to write a sequel, will there be another - what else is going to happen? I knew it would work well on stage but for a lot of reasons I wanted someone fresh to come to the story. Lemn said he wanted to do it, he was so passionate and said it was so close to his own story.

How did it feel seeing Refugee Boy at West Yorkshire Playhouse?
I’d read the script but I’m not great at visualising from a script. When I went to West Yorkshire Playhouse and saw the set I thought wow, it’s really creative - it’s so descriptive and really powerful with the suitcases. When it started I recognised lines that came from me and lines that came from Lemn, and after I time I couldn’t tell anymore. It was an emotional time.

This is a story that crosses boundaries, was this reflected when watching this play?
It was really moving to feel the response and emotion coming from the audience. I saw it a couple of times and everybody commented on how mixed the audience was; the age range, the nationality range - there were lots of refugees themselves. For me one of the most moving parts was that on one night there were two women hugging and talking in the corner, one was from Etheopia and one was from Eritrea and they were on opposite sides of the war fighting but here they were together. It brings people together.

Alongside the play is an education programme and work with refugees raising awareness of the issues in the play. How important is this?
I’ve always said that artists should not be remote from the people. My mum was in her 70s when she went to the theatre for the first time. Having said that people in Jamaica made up skits in the streets, but the idea of parking the car, going into the theatre it’s very alien to some people, and so we have to find new ways of connecting. Most refugees I know are trying to adapt and fit in, they’re too busy for theatre and think that it has nothing to do with them. So it’s great that we’re reaching out to bring those people to the theatre. The only sanctuaries before were the church and theatre should be like that, as places where people feel passionate and go to have a spiritual experience a lot of the time.

Refugee Boy is on 12 - 15 March.
Find out more - Book online

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

They're Back - Glasgow Girls Return Home

Glasgow Girls 2012
Photo: Robert Day
An inspirational true story with a huge beating heart! 

It wowed audiences at its world premiere here at the Citizens in Autumn 2012, then won the hearts of London audiences in Spring 2013, picking up a nomination for Best Musical Production’ in the Theatrical Management Association, 2013 UK Theatre Awards. Now Glasgow Girls is back as an official Culture 2014 event, part of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme.

Here's Cora Bissett, who conceived the production for the stage and directed the show, on how the show came about, and what the real-life Glasgow Girls are up to now:

"I first planted the seed of Glasgow Girls as a show in 2010 after seeing how the success of RoadKill had prompted audiences to take direct action. I wanted to use another ‘real-life’ story to reach out to people and let people know what was going on in their midst. Clare Tudor and Belinda McIllhenney at the Scottish Refugee Council agreed it would be a great story to dramatise and directed me towards Lindsay Hill’s brilliant documentary on the girls’ story Tales from the Edge. After this, I came to the surprising but exciting conclusion that this story should be told as a musical. It was the girls’ energy and spirit that made me feel this story should be sung! The next step was to meet with all seven of the Glasgow Girls and their teachers from the time.

Over two years, I began developing the show, experimenting with the songwriters and working closely with Hilary Brooks and David Greig. We always wanted to treat people’s real lives with the utmost care and respect. We invited the girls, Euan Girvan, Wilson Blakey, Noreen Real and Jean Donnachie to all of our development stages, and shared the script with them, which they gave feedback on, and gradually built their trust.

At the time of writing this, Roza has graduated from Strathclyde University after studying Law and Politics; Emma works for BBC Radio Scotland and is a volunteer presenter on Sunny Govan FM Radio; Jennifer is a nursery practitioner and a sergeant instructor in the Army Cadet Force; Agnesa works for the NHS and has possibly won an award for services to partying and a damn fine wardrobe; Ewelina married her childhood sweetheart and has two beautiful young children; Amal has graduated in Community Development and is working to help survivors of psychological trauma; Toni Lee is a support worker for adults with learning difficulties. Wilson has retired, Euan still works at Drumchapel High School and Noreen and Jean still live in the Kingsway flats. They continue to campaign for the rights of asylum seekers in the UK.

“I am delighted that Glasgow Girls is coming back to the Citizens Theatre and the city it originated from, especially during such an important year, when Glasgow is hosting the Commonwealth Games. It feels incredibly fitting and timely to remount this show which celebrates the diversity of people, and the brave and passionate community spirit which characterises Glasgow in the 21st century, during a year which seeks to showcase and celebrate the culture of Scotland.”

You can read more about why Glasgow Girls is the perfect show to kick off Culture 2014 in Cora's interview with STV online.

Glasgow Girls is at the Citizens Theatre from 20 Feb - 8 March
Visit our website for more information
Book tickets for Glasgow Girls

Glasgow Girls Social Media Call
Thursday 20th February, 11am – 12pm, Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
Take part in an exclusive preview of Glasgow Girls. Get closer to the action and meet the artists creating incredible theatre experiences.


Monday, 10 February 2014

Miss Julie - The critics' verdict? Catch it while you can!

Keith Fleming as John and Louise Brealey as Julie
Photo by Tim Morozzo
“a tightly wrought drama of transgression, bitter antagonism and cataclysmic seduction” ★★★★ (The Telegraph)

There has been a deluge of glowing reviews for Miss Julie, inspiring critics and audience alike to pretty strong hyperbole! Here are some of the highlights from the papers:

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Miss Julie Blog - On to the stage we go!

Nearly time to raise the curtain on Miss Julie at the Citz. Actor/Intern Jess Hardwick shows us the final sneak peak from the rehearsal room before Technical and Dress Rehearsals start.

Well, we had a very busy week of rehearsals last week - We finished reworking the show, and yesterday was the last day in the rehearsal space before moving to the Main Stage for Technical Rehearsals today.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Miss Julie Blog - Walking in your character's shoes

In her second blog, Jessica Hardwick talks about adding colour and detail to Miss Julie - both through acting and costume. 

So we've just finished week 2 of rehearsals and have stumbled our way through the whole play creating an overall shape. We then re-worked the first half, adding more colour and detail and finished the week with a run of the first half.

It really helped being more familiar with my lines this week. I struggle a lot when carrying around a script as it really gets in the way of playing and it's a huge relief being able to put the book down and free up your hands. In the early stages of rehearsal it's a horrible feeling when you can't quite remember your line, or you blank in the middle of a scene because the lines haven't quite sunk in yet. I like to call this a brain fart! Hopefully by next week the text will be second nature and there will be less chance of spontaneous brain farting!

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Miss Julie - The Odd Dance of Strindberg and Harris

Writer Zinnie Harris
Writer Zinnie Harris talks about the strange dance of adapting a classic work like August Strindberg's Miss Julie:

“People of today are most interested in the psychological process. Our inquisitive souls are not satisfied to see something happen: we want to know how it happened. We want to see the strings, the machinery, examine the double-bottomed box, feel for the seam in the magic ring, look at the cards to see how they are marked."
- August Strindberg 1888

In his Preface to Miss Julie, Strindberg announces a new kind of theatre, a theatre that moves away from the traditional well-made play with its archetypal characters to a theatre where the actions of characters are understood in terms of the influences and experiences that have altered them. In his words: ‘My souls (characters) are conglomerates of past and present cultural phases, bits from books and newspapers, scraps of humanity, pieces torn from fine clothes and become rags, patched together as is the human soul.’ It seems obvious to us now, but at the time this was a radical thought and set the stage not just for the new naturalism but all the great theatre experiments of the 20th century, absurdism, expressionism and everything that came after it.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Miss Julie Blog - Starting Out

Our actor intern, Jessica Hardwick, lets us into some trade secrets from the Miss Julie rehearsal room. Jess plays Christine in Zinnie Harris' adaptation of Strindberg's play and posed for our print campaign for the show. 
Photo by Eoin Carey

"The first day of rehearsals is always an exciting time. Our morning began with a quick meet-and greet, welcoming the new cast and being introduced to the Citizens family (I was delighted that chocolate biscuits and tea were on the go to get stuck into as well). It was also great meeting my other two cast members - Keith Fleming who plays 'John' and Louise Brealey who plays 'Julie'.