Friday, 30 August 2013

Writer Chris Hannan on Dostoyevsky

Walk into any book shop, and you're guaranteed to find at least a couple of different editions of Dostovevsky's epic Crime and Punishment right there in the 'Classics' section. But what is it about this novel that has made it a 'must-read' for so many? Writer Chris Hannan has created a new stage version of the story as a new and exciting way to get to know this iconic work and shared his thoughts with us:

"Few writers had a more dramatic life than Dostoevsky.  As a young man he was involved in a secret revolutionary group, imprisoned, taken out to face a firing squad, then pardoned at the last moment and sent into penal servitude in Siberia, where he worked and slept alongside murderers. 

Crime and Punishment is not autobiographical but it is the writer’s personal experience which accounts for his intimacy with the murderer-hero, and consequently our intimacy.    Dostoevsky the revolutionary had plotted murder for a cause (the liberation of the serfs); and in prison camp he had spoken to a variety of murderers and sensed the different emotions in play - pride, horror, vanity. We get so close to Raskolnikov that we can practically see the proud, desperate, angry look in his eyes.

Crime and Punishment is crime thriller meets Karl Marx and Jesus Christ.  Grounded in the realistic context of a St Petersburg slum, the hero commits murder as a sort of experiment.   “Have I the right to murder?”  He wants to know.   It’s an outrageous premise and could have produced a rather abstract novel of ideas, had it not been written out of the experience of a man who went to Siberia a revolutionary and came back profoundly changed.

It has been a gift to adapt because Dostoevsky creates great dramatic scenes and characters who are – at the deepest level – in constant crisis; who are always improvising, like actors searching for moments of truth."

George Costigan and Adam Best. Credit Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

Crime and Punishment is at the Citizens Theatre from 5 - 28 September and is a co-production with Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse and Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Gerard Murphy 1948 - 2013

Publicity image of Gerard Murphy c. 1975
On Monday afternoon, we received the very sad news that actor Gerard Murphy had passed away. Gerard made a huge impact on the Citizens stage and was an audience favourite at the Theatre in the 70s and 80s. He returned to the theatre last year in Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape directed by Artistic Director, Dominic Hill.
Dominic said “I feel deeply honoured to have met and worked with Gerard on Krapp’s Last Tape, and, subsequently, to have been able to call him a friend over the past 12 months. He brought to rehearsals  huge physical bravery, a fierce intellect, a burning desire to give the best performance he could and a wonderful and mischievous sense of humour. His portrayal of Krapp was both hilarious and heart-breaking. He is a Citz legend.”
Publicity image for Krapp's Last Tape. Credit Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

Born in Newry, Northern Ireland in 1948, Gerard Murphy first came to work at the Citizens Theatre in 1974, and was a regular on the Citz stage for the following three years. Gerard continued to appear at the Citizens in various productions until 1998. He performed in plays by Brecht, Wilde, de Sade and Shakespeare, appearing as Macbeth opposite David Hayman as Lady Macbeth. Other defining performances included the title role in an epic production of Chinchilla, written by Robert David MacDonald. Gerard also had a long association with the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he was an associate artist and played the lead role in Juno and the Paycock opposite Judi Dench.

Gerard in Chinchilla in 1977
As well as appearing on stage, Gerard worked in film and television, appearing in Hollywood films Batman Begins and Waterworld and television programmes Father Ted, Spooks, Waking the Dead and 1998 series Vanity Fair.

Gerard made his return to the Citizens in May 2012, appearing in the title role in Samuel Beckett’s solo play Krapp’s Last Tape. Krapp’s Last Tape was performed as a double bill with Footfalls in Dominic’s first season here as Artistic Director, a season that also featured David Hayman as King Lear. As well as receiving 4- and 5-star reviews, Gerard was nominated for a CATS Award for Best Male Performance for his role, with Dominic nominated as best director for the same production.
Speaking to Neil Cooper in The Herald about returning to the theatre where he began his acting career, Gerard reflected “Coming back here, it feels like coming home.  It is home to me in so many ways. It’s where I started, and it’s the most important theatre ever.” Read the full article online 
Reviewing Gerard’s performance, Joyce McMillan in her 5*review of Krapp’s Last Tape noted
 “ Gerard Murphy, this great play finds a near-perfect voice and stage presence, full of that dark relish for language, and for the absurdity of life, that is – for all of us – part of our essential human armoury against the dying of the light.”
We have collected some of the tweets about the news of Gerard's death on Storify

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

ROLL UP! ROLL UP! Historic seats for sale!

Thank you to everyone who has generously supported our Seat Restoration Campaign. Through seat dedications, donations with tickets, grants from charitable Trusts and individual support we’ve raised just over a whopping £228,000. This fantastic sum has enabled us to start the first phase of the work this summer: removing the stalls seats which are over 20 years old, and replacing them with our new luxurious ones!

But before it’s ‘out with the old and in with the new’ we wanted to offer our audiences and supporters the chance to take home their own bit of history in the form of a Citz Seat. We’ve been posting some photos of the renovation work so far and due to popular demand will hold a one off ‘Seat Sale Day’ on Saturday 17 August between 11am – 4pm.

Seats are priced at £25 each, and can be bought as singles or in two’s and three’s. We can’t promise they will be in perfect condition with some showing more signs of wear and tear than others – but we like to think of that as character! All seats will be ‘sold as seen’ on a first come, first served basis. They are not naturally free-standing (as they were screwed into the theatre floorboards) so will need a little personal DIY at home too. But with that comes a lovely warm glow from having your own bit of Citz history to treasure and show off to your friends - and knowing that you helped to keep the fundraising campaign going with all proceeds going towards our target campaign total of £314,000.

How does it work on the day?
All seats will be on the main stage.  Once you have ‘picked’ your seat, you will be given a receipt in order to pay at our Box Office. Technical staff will be on hand during the day to assist and to help you get your seat(s) safely stored into your vehicle - due to the weight and size of the seats you will require transport to get them home. All seats purchased will need to be taken away on Saturday, and you'll be able to purchase a maximum of 12 seats. 

See you on the 17 August!

The Herald covered our Seat Sale Day run-up with a feature by Arts Correspondent Phil Miller, it's available to view online here. We took a few behind the scenes snaps at the photoshoot!

Denis Murphy (Head of Workshop) who has worked at the Citz for 31 years,
relaxing on the 200 seats for sale
Dominic Hill (Artistic Director) being photographed in the bare stalls
for the page 3 Herald feature

The old stalls seats resting on the Citz stage