Thursday, 29 April 2010

Cool as folk

The Grapes of Wrath music team lead by Musical Director, Scott Twynholm have been creating some fantastic sounds in the rehearsal room.

With shades of Woody Guthrie these brilliant folk songs are helping the company to evoke a time of hardships, getting into the right zone for Steinbeck's brilliant play.

We have four exclusive audio tracks for you. You can listen to the tracks on AudioBoo or use the players below.





In case you missed it earlier this week. Here's a clip of the arrival of - as Neil puts it - "a very important part of the jigsaw".

Watch on YouTube.

The Grapes of Wrath will be at the theatre from 19-22 May 2010.


Wednesday, 28 April 2010

An event and a half!

Described by one audience member as "a real brain twister in the best possible way" and by another as an "anti-play", The Event, which lands at the Citizens Theatre next week, evokes a fantastic reaction from those who see it.

"Very VERY clever! Superbly executed."

One of the hits from the Edinburgh Fringe 2009, this show has received 4 and 5 star reviews across the board. Our marketing team tried to get tickets for the festival last year, but it was a sell out. Hence we are really excited about having it right here in the Citizens!

I thought the best way to give you a glimpse of how good this is, would be to show you some critics comments:

THE GUARDIAN (4 stars)
“The Event is a wake-up call to anyone who has ever wondered why it is that we know all the details of Jordan and Pete's marriage breakup, but can't say how many Iraqis have died in the Iraq war. It deliberately and cruelly destroys illusion: it makes us see how the trick is done, and challenges us to rise from our safe seats in the comforting dark and protest.”

THE TIMES (4 stars)
“...there are some [one-person plays] in which a single performer is gifted enough to rivet an audience. Such is the case with The Event, in which a cool, sharp American called David Calvitto appears as someone who is and isn't himself…an incongruously entertaining lament for a technocratic, money-loving, clichĂ©-packed ("God Bless America"... is that a saying or a plea?') 21st century”

THE HERALD (4 stars)
“a witty and incisive dissection of the performance process…Wearing an expression that moves from bemusement to hang-dog, every nuance, gesture and phrase are rigorously controlled. If it hasn't been acknowledged already, then it should be noted now that Calvitto is one of the funniest and cleverest performers around”

THE SCOTSMAN - Fringe First Award Winner (4 stars)
"New York and Edinburgh Fringe star John Clancy responds to troubled times with an extraordinary tour-de-force in the shape of The Event, a one-hour solo show about theatre, performed by Clancy's old friend and collaborator David Calvitto…The brilliant Calvitto, never better than in this hugely demanding show."

It's not very often that a deceptively simple piece of theatre can make you question, not only the nature of reality, but the very nature of existence itself. But this is what The Event does. It's ok, they don't hand out LSD on the door…Standing alone in a pool of light, he begins to deconstruct the artifice of theatre wittily, amusingly and yet profoundly. It is quietly shocking and yet very funny…While all this might sound like some high-brow exercise in philosophy, it is far from inaccessible; indeed, it unfolds effortlessly, taking us away from our usual standpoint and from our usual mindset…Absolutely superb.

We have booked our tickets and would totally recommend that you do too!


Friday, 23 April 2010

Inspiring Change with female prisoners at HMP Greenock

The team from Citizens Learning and TAG deliver cool projects all year round, but there are some in particular when you get a sense that something very special happened.

I certainly got that from the team and audience returning from HMP Greenock last week. Following an intensive workshop and rehearsal period, female prisoners presented a show called "A Woman's Place". I chatted to Kate to find out more:

The team will be working with male prisoners at Barlinnie later this year in a project called Platform 2:10. Both projects are part of the wider Inspiring Change project.


Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Neil Cooper interviews Imogen Stubbs (full article)

An edited version of this interview was originally published in The Herald on 20 April 2010. We're chuffed to have the full article for you:


By Neil Cooper

It’s Grand National weekend in Liverpool, and Friday is Ladies Day. With a party atmosphere already in full swing, this event gives the city’s populace of wannabe WAGS license to don their most extravagant frocks before proceeding to drink themselves silly and behave in a very un-lady-like manner. As this very Scouse form of mardi-gras grows ever messier, most of the participants will be unaware of the presence of an equally well turned out but altogether more refined grand dame who blew into town the night before. Outside of a shared sartorial elegance, however, it’s unlikely that Amanda Wingfield, the brittle matriarch of Tennessee Williams’ 1944 play, The Glass Menagerie, would approve. Neither, one suspects, would Amanda approve of the appearance of Imogen Stubbs, the actress who plays her in Polly Teale’s production, in the hotel lobby the next morning.

Rather than dress up to the nines and come on all high maintenance, Stubbs goes against the Ladies Day grain by sporting Andy Pandy style striped dungarees and a messy mane of just-out-the-shower blonde hair. The image is as far away from Amanda as you can imagine. On the other hand, Stubbs adds a fresh girlish dimension to a production which has already ripped up the rule book of how The Glass Menagerie should be done.

Teale’s co-production between Shared Experience and Salisbury Playhouse, which arrives at Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre next week, features the use of film projections and an archly mannered dance routine to accentuate the play’s conscious sentimentalism. In what is regarded as Williams’ most autobiographical play, Tom, the play’s narrator, is first seen seated at a typewriter while sporting a smoking jacket, pushing the dialogue along in his mannered drawl like a more foppish Prospero conjuring things into life. Stubbs herself presents Amanda as a younger, more vivacious and less grotesque a study than is usual, more akin to a desperate housewife on the verge than the pop-eyed southern belle she’s usually played as.

“It would be easy to play Amanda as this ludicrous figure,” Stubbs says, “and while it’s easy to laugh at some of her excesses, there’s something heroic about her as well. She uses desperation, anger, blackmail, everything. But you don’t want to play her like a one-trick pony, or a drag queen. There has to be something else there as well.”

Stubbs was born in Northumberland, grew up in Portsmouth and studied at Oxford. It was here she stumbled into acting via the Oxford Revue, who, under the directorship of future Private Eye editor Ian Hislop, brought shows to Edinburgh. Later Stubbs played Irina in a production of Three Sisters at Oxford Playhouse. She then went on to RADA, making her professional debut as Sally Bowles in Cabaret.

Stubbs looked younger than she was, and at the Royal Shakespeare Company played a stream of teenage ingĂ©nues, including Desdemona in Othello. That production was directed by then RSC boss Trevor Nunn, who became Stubbs’ husband. Nunn’s subsequent knighthood makes Stubbs an official Lady, although no airs and graces are in evidence. In 2008, Nunn directed Stubbs in Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes From A Marriage at Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre, now run by former Dundee Rep director Hamish Glen. Keeping things in the family, Stubbs played opposite Iain Glen, a contemporary at RADA.

Another RADA classmate was Jane Horrocks, who cut her teeth playing a role-call of kooks just as Stubbs was being cast in a succession of girly roles. Both, it seems, would’ve happily swapped how they were being seen.

“I always saw myself as a character actress,’ she says, “and I would have killed to play the sort of things Jane Horrocks was getting. When I was much younger I looked identical to the little girl in The Sound of Music, and it was a curse, because I wanted to be Jodie Foster or Tatum O’Neil. But you can’t help how people see you.”

Stubbs shouldn’t underestimate herself, however. A measure of how different a role Amanda is to how Stubbs is perceived can be illustrated by two incidents. A couple of days previously to our meeting, Stubbs came out of the Playhouse stage door after that night’s performance of The Glass Menagerie with Emma Lowndes, who plays her onstage daughter Laura. An autograph hunter approached Lowndes, who, after duly obliging, suggested they might also want Stubbs’ signature. The stage-door fan looked blankly at Stubbs, then asked her if she’d actually been in the show. It was even worse in Watford, when two audience members lodged separate complaints to the theatre management on the grounds that they’d come to see Stubbs, who they said hadn’t appeared. In actual fact, Stubbs was in every performance.

“That’s just what I like,” Stubbs says of such anonymity, before launching into a riff on the state of modern television. “On telly you’re cast as your obvious self, but acting is about seeming, not being. The writer in me gets very frustrated by some telly. Not that there isn’t good writing going on, but the way everything these days is geared towards ratings. Who decided there was no place for the single drama when there’s so many cookery programmes? Writers like Jack Rosenthal were completely sidelined by television. He couldn’t get arrested, because he wasn’t considered hip or sexy, but Jack Rosenthal and people like him made the telly what it was.”

Rosenthal is pretty close to Stubbs’ heart, as the writer of such works as Barmitzvah Boy and Ready When You Are Mr McGill mentored her when she was branching out as a writer. Stubbs’ play, We Happy Few, about an all-female theatrical troupe who toured Britain during the Second World War, was a moderate success. Even with such a feelgood premise, however, she feels it’s unlikely to end up on the small screen.

“There’s this notion that television has to be aimed at youth,” she says, “when watching telly at eight o’clock at night is the last thing young people will be doing. Why should writers like Jack Rosenthal or Alan Bleasdale have been put into the wilderness, when they were the people who gave the BBC its reputation? When I started out, it was directors who cast their actors. Now it seems telly’s largely been put into the hands of businessmen. But people are hungry for culture. Not everyone can go to the theatre, or has the courage to, but you can expose them to it by stealth, by showing quality drama, or adaptations of classic plays. Instead all they get are more cookery programmes.”

Stubbs is the first to admit some of her own choices for television have veered on the frothy side, and indeed she even took part in Masterchef once upon a time. On stage, however, you feel she’s up for anything.

“I’d like to do A Doll’s House,” she confesses. “I’d like to do Medea, all those parts. But the way I’m thought of, I can’t be tall and dark and mysterious like Janet McTeer or someone. I can only be five foot five and tomboyish or whatever.”

Following We Happy Few, Stubbs also expresses a desire to write some more, and already has another play in the bag, which may or may not see the light of day. As for acting, despite her success, her approach is refreshingly unaffected.

“It’s fun,” she says, “but I’ve never seen it as anything other than a lovely job. I think it’s dangerous if you start taking it too seriously, and if I hadn’t started acting I’d loved to have written books. I’d like to have been a director’s assistant or a co-director. I think I’d have liked to have been a sound editor. I love sound, but at the time I was at school I didn’t know jobs like that existed. I love the whole putting together of things. I’ve got so many ideas. There are too many things I want to do.”

The Glass Menagerie, Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, April 27-May 1


Thursday, 15 April 2010

A snapshot of Britain - add your photos

In the run up to One Million Tiny Plays About Britain, we are running a photography competition. You could be in with the chance of winning an iPod or tickets to the theatre if you submit your photos to our Tiny Plays About Britain Flickr group.

We'd love you to take part. Show us a glimpse of your life, your neighbourhood or something that caught your eye. Here is a slideshow of the entries so far.

If you already have a Flickr account, we're pretty sure you'll have an image that will help us build our Snapshot of Britain. If not, then get started, it's free, dead easy and a great way of sharing and organising your pictures.


Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Imogen Stubbs on the Citizens Main Stage

Imogen Stubbs and a talented cast from Shared Experience will bring Tennessee Williams' powerful family drama The Glass Menagerie to the Citizens from 27 April - 1 May. Here's a wee trailer from the company.

You can see some production and rehearsal images on Flickr.

You can also hear an audio interview with Director Polly Teale.

The Glass Menagerie
Tue 27 April - Sat 1 May 2010