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.