Friday, 30 September 2011

Guest Blog by Peter Nichols: ‘Joe Egg’ revival 2011

My diary for June 1967 relates how, at the opening of A Day in the Death of Joe Egg at Citizens Theatre, my wife and I sat in the circle before it started while a woman behind us was going through the programme for her friend who’d forgotten her glasses. ‘This one’s named here and his picture, but he’s not in the play. That’s funny. Ah, here it is. He’s the writer. Yes, he wrote it. He has four children and two cats. Bless his heart. And married to an art teacher,’

She went on telling of her plans for the summer. ‘We thought of Spain but ..’  at which point the lights went down. An hour later, after the wonderful cast had given what is still the best performance of my first real stage play, the woman continued: ‘But in the end we decided on Cyprus.’ But my wife says I made this up, like most of the play itself.
Plays, especially comedies, strike people in very different ways. William Goldman in his book ‘The Season’ describes seeing it on Broadway. ‘ I’ve been waiting a long time for Joe Egg to come along and do its demonstration so that I could sit back and say to myself . ‘Oh, sure, that’s it, what it’s all been for: it’s the theatre’s special ‘thing’ and no other art form can steal it away. It is, in the true and non-phony sense of the word, ‘theatrical’ and that’s why nobody can ever tell you about ’Joe Egg’. You gotta be there.’

Somewhere between this and the lady at Citizens is perhaps the truth. We’d cautiously expected three weeks there but somehow all felt we’d done something special. Next day my wife and I flew home to Bristol and our three other children, leaving this new-born one to make its own way in the world, which it has for 44 years. Diary goes on: ‘I was sorry to be leaving Glasgow and shall always remember it fondly as giving me one of the happiest weeks of my life.’ It wasn’t my first appearance in the city. In the 1950s I’d played Count Dracula in rep at the Theatre Royal and a local critic claimed ‘Count Dracula no longer so fearsome. There were no gasps, no shrieks, last night’.  At ‘Joe Egg’ there were a few gasps but far more laughs, which was our intention. In this production by Michael Blakemore, still probably the best, its male lead was played by a comedian Joe Melia, a part  since done by other comics like Jim Dale and Eddie Izzard, and by actors Albert Finney, Richard Dreyfuss, Alan Bates, Clive Owen, Mark Benton and Christopher Eccleston. I always suggest to directors fresh to the work that they should think Noel Coward rather than Strindberg.  I’ve said the same to Phillip Breen [Ed. our Director for the 2011 production] so we have high hopes.

It’s marvellous to have it done again at its birthplace and we’ll be there at its rebirth.

Peter Nichols
(Writer - A Day in the Death of Joe Egg)

Photos from "Feeling You're Behind" by Peter Nichols.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Men Should Weep - Alternative ending

Ena Lamont Stewart wrote Men Should Weep in a 'blaze' in an effort to show 'real people' living 'real lives'... however the play we all know and study is not the script Ena first wrote in 1947. Her first vision was much darker, much angrier, much more radical and it has not been performed in over half a century.

Following the performance on Wed 5 October, join director Graham McLaren and the cast of our production as they read the original final act on stage and reveal what the playwright first wanted to happen to the Morrison family.

This event is completely free, but you must reserve a ticket. To reserve a place phone the Citizens Theatre Box Office on 0141 429 0022.

Since we don't expect every member of that night's audience to be able to stay, please note that you're very welcome to book a place simply for the read-through (even if you're not attending that night)

Men Should Weep
Alternative Ending

Wed 5 October, 10.15pm

at the Citizens Theatre

Friday, 16 September 2011

The Koestler Trust Awards

This year the Citizens Theatre, specifically the Learning team have won a total of 6 awards for their work in prisons through the Koestler Trust. These awards are given to projects delivered both in the UK and internationally.

The Koestler Trust has been running an awards programme for offenders, secure patients and detainees for almost 50 years.

For our HMP Barlinnie project, Platform 2:10 we received:

- Gold for the Stage Play, which was written by inmates.
- Gold for Design and Technology - for the CD cover – in the product for use category.
- Highly Commended for the rap “Walkin’ Free” - in the hip hop category.

For HMP Greenock project, A Woman’s Place, we received:

- Bronze for the book “Dear Future” - under the category Life Story,
- Platinum for the music created for A Woman’s Place - under the category choral music.
- The play itself was Highly Commended - under the category of Drama

The Koestler is a very prestigious award and it’s a real scoop for the team to be recognised.

On 21 September, there will be a launch of an exhibition at the Royal Festival Hall, at the Southbank Centre in London. Work from our projects is being exhibited, with Kate Black and Elly Goodman (from Citizens Learning and TAG) attending.

You can find out more about Platform 2:10 and A Woman’s Place on our website. You can also listen to the amazing music written and performed by prisoners in Barlinnie on AudioBoo.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Whale Music

At the Citz, we run Nightschool drama classes for adults. This has grown over the last few years and now offers 4 classes catering for everyone from the absolute beginners to experienced performers.

As a graduate of 3 levels, I can honestly say it was one of the most satisfying and enjoyable things I've ever done.

Quite often at the end of a long day, I'd find myself not really in the mood for an evening class; but without fail, the spirit of fun and enthusiasm exuded by the course leaders infected us all, and we left with a huge grin and a real sense of achievement.

I think one of my favourite things about the classes was the interaction of all ages and abilities. There is a very supportive atmosphere that allows each participant to push themselves within their own limits without feeling too pressured.

There have been quite a few successful graduates of Nightschool over the years, many of whom have gone on to perform in our community theatre productions and some who have gone on to drama school or turned professional! Emma Sullivan and Judith Hastie formed Loose Goose Theatre after working together in Donald Pirie's Level 3 class.

Their first production is Whale Music by Anthony Minghella, which will be at The Old Hairdressers on Renfield Lane from Wed 14 - Fri 16 September. Whale Music - which will be directed by another Nightschool graduate Scott Cadenhead - is Anthony Minghella's tender tale of female friendship and strength in the face of adversity.

The tickets are available from ticketweb or by calling 08444 77 1000. They're also available on the door. Good luck to all at Loose Goose!

Autumn 2011 Level 1 is now sold out, but we have a few places left in both Levels 2 and 3. Call 0141 429 0022 if you fancy trying your hand at acting, meeting some lovely people and most of all having a great laugh!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Stage Awards - video

A new video has just been posted of The Stage Awards for Acting Excellence. If you scroll to 6 mins 25 seconds, you get to the start of the Best Ensemble Award which went to The Monster in the Hall.

"they told the story with glorious panache"
Thom Didbin (judge)

Unfortunately our cast were on stage at the time of the awards' ceremony so writer David Greig accepted on their behalf. This film features the award, David's acceptance and a couple of interviews.

The cast who were unaware of their win, were actually completing their very last performance of the whole festival. This final audience had a treat as David Greig (who winged his way to the Traverse) stepped on stage during the applause to let everyone know about their win.

I wasn't there, but have been told by a few folk that the audience offered a rapturous response. What an awesome way to close another stunning festival run!

You can see clips of the show and audience response on YouTube.