Tuesday, 22 September 2015


On Sunday 20 September, the Citizens Theatre Company celebrated 70 years in its Gorbals home in Glasgow with an invited audience of actors, current and former staff and friends of the company. 

Fidelis Morgan
Maureen Beattie
Former and current stars of the Citizens Theatre stage including Celia Imrie, Rupert Everett, Miles Jupp, Maureen Beattie, Ron Donachie, Ann Mitchell and Fidelis Morgan took the stage to perform extracts of some of the plays which have made the Citizens Theatre famous and share their memories of the theatre. 
Celia Imrie
Rupert Everett
 Giles Havergal, one of the three artistic leaders of the Citizens Theatre alongside Robert David Macdonald and Philip Prowse under whose leadership the Citizens Theatre flourished, performed extracts from his adaptation of Travels With My Aunt by Graham Greene. Havergal described the production from 1989 as ‘truly among the happiest days of my life.’
Former Artistic Director Giles Havergal

Some of the Citizens’ most notorious productions have been performances of Hamlet, and the audience were treated to performances by Brian Ferguson (Hamlet, 2014), Peter Guinness (Claudius, 2014), Andy Clark (Hamlet, 2007), Cal MacAninch (Hamlet, 1996),  video contributions from Henry Ian Cusick (Hamlet, 1993) and David Hayman (Hamlet, 1975 & 1970), and a live appearance by John Cairney, the Citizens’ first Hamlet in 1960, and as a graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, formerly known as the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, the first Scottish-trained actor to perform the role. 

A trio of Hamlets: Cal MacAninch, John Cairney, Andy Clark

The Citizens’ current Artistic Director Dominic Hill thanked the audience for attending, and appealed for support for the theatre’s planned redevelopment, scheduled to begin work in 2017.

Artistic Director Dominic Hill

 The audience also heard an exclusive first performance of ‘Us Two’, one of the brand new songs by Deacon Blue front man Ricky Ross written for new Scottish musical The Choir, book by Paul Higgins, opening at the Citizens Theatre on Thu 29 October 2015.
Paul Higgins

Sarah Tansey and Miles Jupp

 The evening closed with an appearance by Ida Schuster, 96, performing an incredibly spirited extract of Jean Genet’s The Balcony, performed under a screen projection of production images from her appearance in the play in 1982.

Ida Schuster
 Founded in 1943 by James Bridie, the Citizens Theatre Company moved into the 1878-built theatre at 119 Gorbals Street formerly known as The Royal Princesses’ Theatre. Since then, the Citizens has gained a reputation around the world for bold, innovative, provocative and challenging interpretations of classic texts, as well as productions that celebrate the Citizens’ role in Glasgow’s cultural life.
Citizens Theatre 70th anniversary celebrations Sunday 20 September 2015. Images by Tommy Ga Ken Wan

 To see a full set of images from our celebrations, visit our Flickr page. 

Do you have memories of the Citizens Theatre 70 year history? Share them with us!  

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

"You – Lanark - you’re very interesting"

After previews in Glasgow and Edinburgh, Lanark: A Life in Three Acts received its world premiere performances at the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh on Sunday 23 August as part of the 2015 Edinburgh International Festival.  

Sandy Grierson and Helen McKay. Credit Eoin Carey
Audiences and critics have been blown away by this epic, ambitious and imaginative adaptation of Alasdair Gray's classic novel written by David Greig and directed by Graham Eatough.

"The linchpin of the production is Sandy Grierson’s astonishing performance as Lanark himself...supported every step of the way, though, by so many other strands of Eatough’s astonishing production."  
★★★★★ The Scotsman 

"Between them, David Greig and Graham Eatough have brought together what is a complex and challenging read that looks at society, sex, death, socialist ideals, love, problematic relationships with women, fathers and sons to create a funny and astounding piece of theatre produced on an operatic and highly physical scale." 
★★★★★ The Edinburgh Guide

"The great achievement of the adaptation is that performers and staging sail through the fantasy, from sci-fi to simple nightmare, with fleeting echoes of Beckett, Kafka, Pinter and Joyce, in a superbly drilled and exhilaratingly confident piece of ensemble theatre...David Greig’s writing and Graham Eatough’s direction leave one intrigued, puzzled and even tempted to go back for more." 
★★★★ The Financial Times (£)

Sandy Grierson. Credit Eoin Carey
"When Sandy Grierson as Alasdair Gray's eponymous alter-ego in David Greig's sprawling adaptation of Gray's magical realist 1981 novel declares that he wishes to pen a modern day Divine Comedy with illustrations inspired by William Blake, it knowingly sums up the artistic ambitions of both Gray and Graham Eatough's equally epic production." 
★★★★ The Herald

"Eatough's production, which is splendidly designed, for the most part, by Laura Hopkins, and blessed with amazing video work by Simon Wainwright, is undeniably modernist and quintessentially Scottish."
★★★★ The Telegraph

"David Greig and Graham Eatough’s insanely ambitious adaptation of the Alasdair Gray novel is like a heady, unsettling, unpredictable dream" 
★★★★ The Guardian

"as a big festival event it is timely and memorable for all the right reasons"
★★★★ The Stage

"a bold, bonkers and brilliant production that should please even the most die-hard of Gray fans...loud, large and visually stunning." 
★★★★ The List

"A world of hugely entertaining possibilities is on display in Lanark. The co-production between the Citizens Theatre and the International Festival has all of the excitement and weight of a capital-letter Theatre Event"
★★★★ All Edinburgh Theatre

Lanark: A Life in Three Acts plays at the Edinburgh International Festival until Monday 31 August, and plays at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow 3 - 19 September.


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Good Artists Copy, Great Artists Steal

Pablo Picasso said:

"Good artists copy, great artists steal."

Copied or stolen, Alasdair Gray's novel Lanark - A Life in Four Books is full of references, ideas and re-appropriations of others' works.

Plagiarism (taking someone else's work and passing it off as your own) is one of the defining elements of the postmodern movement. Music, films, art and writing that is described as postmodern often uses elements of earlier styles, or mixes together different media and styles to create something new.

For example, Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge! uses lines, tunes and lyrics from famous love songs and stitches them together to create the soundtrack for the film.

Vanilla Ice settled out of court for an undisclosed sum after his track Ice Ice Baby sampled Queen and David Bowie's Under Pressure without permission.

Lady Gaga's music doesn't directly sample other's music, but heavily references Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Michael Jackson and others, and her music videos echo a whole range of films and music videos.

Lanark is often described as a masterpiece of postmodernism, in part thanks to its open and liberal references to other works. Alasdair Gray fully acknowledges the various influences on Lanark - A Life in Four Books, choosing to include a famous index of plagiarisms in the novel.

Similarly, the creative team for Lanark - A Life in Three Acts have been inspired by a whole host of music, films, theatre, novels, and have made a list of how those inspirations have been translated into their work.

We've put together a Lanark Plagiarism Pinterest board showing how Willy Wonka, The Beatles, Logan's Run and Corrie's Bet Lynch have all provided the source for the creative team's ideas for the show.

Why not see how many you can spot when you come to see Lanark at the Citizens Theatre from 14 - 17 August or 3 - 19 September? Maybe you'll spot some more of your own!

Book Now for Lanark at the Citizens Theatre 14 - 17 August and 3 - 19 September

If you'd like to find out more about the inspirations behind Lanark, book now for one of our pre-show events, timed to take place before performances of Lanark.

Lanark Curtain Raiser Sat 12 September 5.15pm
Brunch With Lanark Sat 19 September 11am

Tickets are available from our Box Office 0141 429 0022 (Tickets to Lanark must be purchased separately.)

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

From the Personal to the Universal - Alasdair Gray's Visual Art

As we get ready to welcome Lanark onto our stage, we thought it was the ideal time to explore Alasdair Gray's visual art which is central to design of the production. We asked Sorcha Dallas for her insight into Gray's often overlooked artwork. Sorcha curated and devised the recent Alasdair Gray Season which saw Alasdair's work exhibited across Glasgow. 

Alasdair Gray's cover design for Lanark. Courtesy Glasgow Print Studios.

Alasdair Gray is a prolific polymath, internationally acknowledged as a major Scottish writer. Over the last 50 years he has built an extensive body of work within both the literary and visual art fields. His written oeuvre is unique across all genres - fiction, poetry, plays, critical essays and reviews: it is renowned, but his visual work has been less widely acknowledged due to it never being thoroughly researched, archived and promoted.

Alasdair Gray's design for the title page of Lanark. Courtesy Glasgow Print Studio

My working relationship with Alasdair Gray began in 2007, although I had encountered his work long before. As a painting student at Glasgow School of Art, Lanark was a key text and cited as a constant source of inspiration for many an emerging artist. Studying in the late 90s in Glasgow I witnessed an increase in experimental and 'environmental' art within the city, with many of the artists using the city itself as the context to their work. The energy of these artists was critical in establishing the artist run space TransmissionGallery in the late 80s, which was crucial in fostering a local community and art scene. Transmission Gallery was the catalyst in creating a vibrant, grassroots art scene which encouraged artists to stay within the city, to not move (in the past many would have had to move to London for both economic and career opportunities) but to build an international dialogue and root it firmly back into a local community.

Transmission Gallery, King Street, Glasgow. Credit Stephen Robinson
Transmission has always encouraged cross pollination of mediums, politics and ideas and Gray and a new generation of writers (such as James Kelman and Liz Lochhead) were often involved in readings and events, such as the 1987 series 'Transmission Goes Verbal'. 
Jessica Hardwick and Sandy Grierson in rehearsals for Lanark. Credit Tim Morozzo
Artists who are musicians (and vice versa) add to Glasgow's supportive, experimental and vibrant scene, securing its position as a leading international city of culture. Alasdair Gray's politics, ideas, publications and artworks continue to inspire Scottish writers and artists seeking to achieve an international voice whilst still being based in Scotland. His work has always been rooted in the idea of the local. However, Gray has always striven to use this idea as a starting point to acknowledge and discuss more universal themes, a sentiment that inspired the Transmission generation and holds strong to this day.

When I started working with Alasdair I had been working with a younger generation of Glasgow based artists through the commercial gallery (Sorcha Dallas) I owned and ran. From 2003-2011 the gallery offered a support structure for a new generation of emerging artists based within the city. It was only the second contemporary commercial gallery in Glasgow and grew out of the artist run scene in which I had been involved since the late 90s. Many of the artists I worked with, like myself, admired Gray's unequivocal vision, often at odds with current practices, and the way he used the familiar, Glasgow, to deal with international ideas and concerns. Although Alasdair had trained at Glasgow School of Art and considered himself an artist who fell into writing, it was the latter for which he was best known. 

Alasdair Gray mural at Hillhead Subway Station, Glasgow
Walking around the West End of Glasgow you could experience Gray's murals, however go beyond that it seemed most people encountered his visual work through his books. My main aim has been to recontextualise Alasdair's visual work, to show it is as unique and autonomous as his literary works and to make a wider public aware of the incredible body of work spanning over 65 years. The key to this has been promoting it through exhibitions and events (such as The Alasdair Gray Season I recently devised whose main show 'From The Personal to the Universal' at Kelvingrove Art Galler and Museum I curated) as well as ordering his visual material and creating an online resource through which to experience it which I will developing further in 2015 and beyond, in partnership with Glasgow University and Glasgow School of Art.

Lanark previews at the Citizens Theatre from 14 - 17 August, returning 3 - 19 September.

Lanark will also be performed at the Edinburgh International Festival at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh from 22 - 31 August.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Mary Sweeney 1923 - 2015

Today we received the sad news that one of our longest serving and much loved members of staff at the Citizens Theatre has passed away. Mary Sweeney worked Front of House at the theatre for over 40 years as our ‘Chief’ usher, retiring in 2003 at the age of 80.

Mary with her granddaughter Jenny in her seat M13

She celebrated her 90th birthday at the theatre and today we share again the words of friend and colleague Christine Hamilton who paid tribute to the impact she made on staff and audiences alike during her illustrious career at the Citz:

"For forty years Mary Sweeney was the public face of the Citizens Theatre. While Giles Havergal was often to be found graciously welcoming the audience into his theatre in the Gorbals, it was Mary who was bustling around in the background ensuring the ushers, bar and door staff were all in place, patrons welcomed and directed to their seats, school parties efficiently herded into the right place and those with problems with walking or in wheelchairs, accommodated without fuss. Regular patrons could be sure of a word of recognition along with the welcome and, at the end of the show, no matter how startling, shocking or controversial, she gently sought their views with neither pressure nor judgement. All of this happened apparently seamlessly – without fuss or drama. Problems dealt with, crises diverted. When today I hear the well-worn phrase ‘your safety and comfort is our priority’, I think of Mary, the very embodiment of customer care before the phrase was invented.”

Mary enjoying her 90th party 

Mary also appeared (very briefly) on stage during her career with the theatre, when director Philip Prowse asked her to be an extra in A Waste of Time – an adaptation of Proust’s great novel by Robert David Macdonald.

Mary on stage in A Waste of Time

Artistic Director, Dominic Hill said: “When I first joined the Citizens, Mary was introduced to me on our opening nights as someone who had influenced generations of staff who she took under her wing during those incredible 40 years of service to the company. She embodied everything about the Citz and how it welcomes audiences to performances. We are saddened to hear of her passing today but her legacy will live on for many years to come.”

General Manager, Lesley Davidson said: “Mary was dedicated to the Citizens and was adored by staff and audiences. She was truly a ‘one off’ and will be sadly missed by us all.”

The inimitable Mary Sweeney

The funeral will take place on Wednesday 5 August, 10am at St Gabriel's Church, Merrylee Road then Carnbooth House Hotel in Carmunnock. 

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Introducing The Citizens Dream Players

Six local amateur actors will be joining the Royal Shakespeare Company’s forthcoming production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  

The Citizens Dream Players they will play the roles of the ‘Mechanicals’ when the production visits the Citizens Theatre between 29 March – 2 April 2016.
100 amateur actors from across Glasgow auditioned for the RSC in February 2015. From the wealth of Glasgow talent, The Citizens Dream Player have been formed. They will take on the roles of the 'Mechanicals', the under-prepared, yet loveable bunch of craftsmen and women who put themselves forward to entertain royalty at the end of the play.

Left to right: Bill Whiland (Snug, the Joiner), Emma Tracey (Starveling, the Tailor), David Scanlan (Quince, the Carpenter), Katy Thomson (Snout, the Tinker), Alistair Wales (Flute, the Bellows Mender) and Martin Turner (Bottom, the Weaver).
Bill Whiland, a former policeman has just started acting but it has always been a lifelong ambition to perform on stage.  
Glasgow born Emma Tracey is currently studying acting and performing at Glasgow Clyde College and has been acting since she was 10. 
David Scanlan from Paisley has been acting for four years and currently holds a BA in Commercial Music from University of Paisley. 
Both Katy Thomson and Alistair Wales began acting from an early age. Katy joined her local theatre group at age seven and Alistair has been acting since he was eight years old. Their roles as Flute and Snout will be the first time they have performed Shakespeare.  
Martin Turner has been acting in amateur productions for 40 years, the father of two has starred in A Midsummer Night’s Dream before as lover Demetrius and this will be his first time playing Bottom.

The group will perform alongside a cast of 18 professional actors and a professional creative team, led by RSC Deputy Artistic Director, Erica Whyman.

A Midsummer Night’sDream: A Play for the Nation will visit 12 theatres in each region and nation of the UK between 17 February and 4 June 2016, and will involve 14 different amateur theatre companies.  In each theatre a different local amateur theatre company will play the Mechanicals, and local school children will take part as Titania’s fairy train.  
Tickets for A Midsummer Night’sDream are on sale now and available from citz.co.uk or by calling the Box Office on 0141 429 0022.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Autumn season now on sale including a new musical featuring songs by Ricky Ross

We finish off our 70th anniversary year in grand style with a new musical written by Paul Higgins and featuring brand new songs by Deacon Blue singer and songwriter Ricky Ross. We're doubling up our helping of birthday cake to celebrate another historic anniversary with a trio of new productions inspired by the controversial, radical and risqué programming of the Close Theatre 1965 - 1973.

Clockwise from top left: Lanark, Progression 2015, Dragon, The Choir, Scarfed for Life.

The full autumn programme is now on sale and includes:

LANARK (14 – 17 August and 3 – 19 September)
A major new theatrical adaptation of Alasdair Gray’s most famous work. Lanark continues a collaboration between writer David Greig and director Graham Eatough which began with experimental theatre company Suspect Culture.

PROGRESSION 2015 (24 & 25 September)

Solar Bear take over the Citizens Theatre for two days of workshops, discussion and performance that celebrate theatre and performance that is accessible to deaf and hearing participants and audiences.

DRAGON (1 – 10 October)
A co-production between Vox Motus, National Theatre of Scotland and Tianjin Children’s Art Theatre, Dragon has won awards and critical acclaim for its extraordinary visual story, told without words, featuring puppetry, illusion and an original, rich orchestral score.

THE CHOIR (24 October –14 November)
The Choir is a funny, gritty but ultimately heart-warming musical play set in Wishaw about a group of strangers who come together, not always willingly, to sing in a community choir. Directed by Citizens Theatre Artistic Director Dominic Hill, written by Paul Higgins and features original songs written by Deacon Blue’s Ricky Ross.

A programme of visceral, experimental and challenging work, rarely seen on the Scottish stage and inspired by the spirit and ethos of the original Close Theatre. Learn more about the Close in The Herald's interview with Artistic Director, Dominic Hill.

Lot and His God by Howard Barker (3 – 10 October)

A subversive re-telling of the ancient Old Testament tale of Lot and his wife and the fall of the city of Sodom. Directed by Debbie Hannan.

Striptease & Out At Sea by Słavomir Mrożek (17 – 24 October)
A double bill of surrealist drama with Vanishing Point founder and Artistic Director Matthew Lenton directing.

Vanya by Sam Holcroft (31 October – 7 November)
Fresh from his five-star production of Into That Darkness, Citizens Theatre Main Stage Director in Residence Gareth Nicholls directs an evocative response to Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya.

RAPUNZEL (28 November –3 January)
Let down your hair! A funny, foolish, madcap festive show with a darkly mischievous side suitable for the whole family aged 6 and over.

Out of the building and on the road:
 SCARFED FOR LIFE (14 –22 August)
Citizens Learning take Scarfed For Life, a modern Scottish parable set against the backdrop of the first Celtic and Rangers clash of the season tours to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Òran Mór, Glasgow and Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock.

Fill your boots with fresh new theatre this autumn. You can save pounds for an extra ice cream at the interval on Family Tickets for Dragon and Rapunzel. Plus bag a bonus discount if you book for all the performances as part of Progression 2015 or Close Theatre Anniversary Season.

To book tickets for all the Citizens’ Autumn 2015 productions, and to find out more about the range concessions on offer, visit citz.co.uk or call the Box Office on 0141 429 0022.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Not your average high school musical

The Dance School of Scotland return to the Citizens Theatre for its thirteenth year. Based in Knightswood Secondary School in Glasgow, the Dance School of Scotland provides free vocational training alongside a mainstream academic curriculum.

Photo by Andy Ross.

The school’s Musical Theatre students are bringing Godspell, by American lyricist and composer Stephen Schwartz, to our main stage this month. First performed in 1971, Godspell is one of the iconic musicals of the decade. The show sets traditional hymns to modern music, with one of the songs, Day By Day, becoming a chart hit. The musical was so popular, a film version soon followed in 1973.

As well as contributing lyrics to a number of Disney animations, Stephen Schwartz created the phenomenal international hit, Wicked, an alternate view of the witches of The Wizard of Oz. But what remains most exciting about his early hit, Godspell, is as Stephen says “it is reinvented with each production.”

Thirty-five S5 and S6 pupils from the Dance School of Scotland will bring their own interpretation of the rock musical to the Citz under the direction of Graham Dickie in a brand new production. See how their preparations have been going in the video below.


10 - 13 JUNE 2015

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

A triumphant take on a Citizens classic

Our Main Stage Director in Residence, Gareth Nicholls, debuts at the Citizens with a thrilling production of Into That Darkness. Adapted by Robert David MacDonald, the play lays bare journalist Gitta Sereny's interviews with a convicted Nazi war criminal. Critics are calling the production a "triumph".

Cliff Burnett in Into That Darkness. Credit: Tim Morozzo

“superbly acted drama is a meticulous, compelling triumph”
The Guardian ★★★★★

“superb production… magnificently captured”
The Scotsman ★★★★★

“a production that will keep you engaged long after the house lights come up”
The Public Reviews ★★★★

“a thrillingly mesmeric meditation on human cruelty.”
The Herald ★★★★

“The ensemble is highly skilled and committed, with Duff in particular adding yet another beautifully textured portrait to her gallery of multifaceted women. “
The Times ★★★★

“painful, raw emotion carried beautifully by its two leads”

Blythe Duff and Molly Innes in Into That Darkness. Credit: Tim Morozzo

Audiences have been struck by the intense performances from Blythe Duff and Cliff Burnett, and the thought-provoking subject matter that looks into the very heart of evil.

Blythe Duff, Cliff Burnett and Molly Innes in Into That Darkness. Credit: Tim Morozzo

See more from what audiences have been saying on Storify


Friday, 22 May 2015

PJ Paparelli

Citizens Theatre staff are shocked and deeply saddened by the death of PJ Paparelli, Artistic Director of American Theatre Company in Chicago. PJ passed away on Thursday 21 May 2015 in Glasgow, following a road traffic accident. 
American Theater Company Artistic Director PJ Paparelli

PJ will be sadly missed by all those who met and worked with him during the time he spent at the Citizens last year developing his documentary play The Project(s). 

The Citizens Theatre staff send condolences to PJ’s family and friends, and to colleagues at the American Theatre Company.