Thursday, 12 July 2018

Cyrano de Bergerac: Introducing Dr Pam Hogg

Get to know the talented creative team behind our co-production of Edwin Morgan's translation of Cyrano de Bergerac! Over the next few weeks we’ll be introducing some of the gang.

First up is our Costume Designer – the iconic Scottish fashion designer, rock star and artist Dr Pam Hogg. Read on to find out why Pam is one of our favourite Glasgow Girls!

Pam receiving her Honorary Doctorate at GSA Graduation  

Pam grew up in the city and studied Fine Art and Printed Textiles at the beloved Glasgow School of Art. She was the first ever person to hold a fashion show at city landmark Kelvingrove Art Gallery. As a local lass she should have no problem understanding Edwin Morgan's Glaswegian Scots verse. 

Since launching her debut fashion collection in 1981, Pam’s bold and rebellious designs have been worn by many high-profile stars including Siouxsie Sioux, Björk, Kylie Minogue, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, and Rihanna. Take a look at some of her punk-inspired designs with our Pinterest collection.

Singer Paloma Faith in a Pam Hogg War Child t-shirt (Image via Instagram)

Fashion isn’t her only passion and Pam revealed in a Guardian interview that music is her ‘first love’. As a musician she has supported The Pogues, Blondie and The Raincoats.

In 2016 she got to combine her love of music and design when she was invited to create The Brit Award statuettes. Previous designers of the award include Vivienne Westwood, Sir Peter Blake, Damien Hirst, Phillip Treacy and Tracy Emin. Pam, however, was the first to develop bespoke trophies for each of the winners.

The Brit Award trophies 
Her own award cabinet is full to the brim. After leaving art school she won the Newbury Medal of Distinction, the Frank Warner Memorial Medal, the Leverhulme Scholarship and the Royal Society of Arts Bursary. In 2013 Pam also received the Creative Excellence Award from The Scottish Fashion Council.

Described by Terry Wogan as "one of the most original, inventive, creative designers in Britain", we absolutely agree and are really looking forward to having her designs as part of Cyrano de Bergerac.

If you can’t wait until September to see some of Pam’s work, she has a solo exhibition opening in Liverpool this weekend: Dr Hogg’s Divine Disorder, an exhibition of art, fashion and photography.
Cyrano de Bergerac is a co-production with the National Theatre of Scotland and Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh. It runs at Tramway 1 – 22 Sep, The Lyceum 12 Oct – 3 Nov and Eden Court 7 – 10 Nov. 


Friday, 18 May 2018

Q & A with Lizi Ridgway from the cast of A Night To Remember

A Night To Remember will be the final Citizens Theatre production before we move out of our home in the Gorbals to enable a major redevelopment to take place. The story takes audiences back in time to the building's previous incarnation as the Royal Princess's Theatre for an evening of variety set on one eventful night in 1918.

The show features a large community cast made up of participants in the many drama activities and groups run by the Citizens Theatre as well as people from the local area, from across the city and beyond.

Lizi Ridgway is one of the cast members. Here, she fills us in on what it's like to be part of the production and how things are going in the rehearsal room ahead of opening night next week.

Lizi Ridgway

This is your first performance at the Citizens, why did you decide to get involved in A Night To Remember?

I always loved doing drama and music when I was at school but life got in the way once I left and started work. I had to content myself with being a drama queen in day-to-day life and the odd bit of karaoke. Earlier this year, after realising I had nothing to lose I dipped my toe with an amateur dramatics group. This only made me even keener! When I saw A Night To Remember advertised on the Citizens website I thought it sounded like a really interesting project so I dropped an email. I never thought I would be lucky enough to take part.

One of the many clothing rails stacking up in our wardrobe department for this epic community production

Can you tell us a bit about what you do in the play?

Through the course of the show I get to act out lots of different roles, including a patriot and a nurse. It's such a great ensemble piece as we all get to be involved in the very varied parts of the play. I guess it's a bit like life, where we are all different things at different times to different people.

What has been your favourite part of the process so far?

We always start with some excellent 'larking about' led by Neil (Citizens Theatre's Community Drama Director). I fully believe we don't get enough opportunities to play as adults. Getting to run about and be silly has been brilliant. From a more serious point of view, it has been really interesting learning about life 100 years ago. We really get to put ourselves in the character's shoes.

Lizi in the rehearsal room 

A Night To Remember is the final Citz production ahead of a major redevelopment. What are your hopes for the new building?

I love the way that the building currently has the beautiful, original features merged with more modern areas. I hope that this mix will continue in the new, revamped Citizens. The idea of having the statues looking down over the front of the building is very cool too.

Is there anything else you'd like to share about the project?

I really didn't know what to expect when I went to the first taster evening. To be honest I was nervous. I didn't know anyone and didn't have a lot of experience. Since I took the leap I've learnt so much (including 60 people's names!) and had a lot of fun. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with myself once the production is over. One thing is for sure, I will be looking to take part in Nightschool and hoping to be involved in future Community Theatre projects. I would highly recommend the whole experience to anyone.

Cast members in the rehearsal room

A Night To Remember will be the final Citizens production ahead of our building redevelopment. It runs 23 - 26 May. BOOK NOW

Part of the Southside Fringe Programme

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

A bit of 1918 style entertainment! The Citizen's history of variety

Our upcoming production A Night To Remember will take audiences back in time to our building’s origins as the Royal Princess’s Theatre for an evening of variety set on one eventful night 100 years ago.  

Variety and music hall are central to Scottish theatrical history. The genres shaped local audiences’ tastes for an accessible, engaging style of theatre that is fast-moving and funny as well as dramatically exciting. Here, we take a look back at where it all began: 

Did you know our poster design for A Night To Remember (right) is based on a stain glass window from the Royal Princess's Theatre (left) which is in place in our dress circle bar.  

Music hall emerged in taverns and coffee houses across Britain in the middle of the 19th century. It involved a mixture of popular songs, comedy, dance and speciality acts. Performers entertained whilst the audiences ate, drank and joined in with the singing. Music hall’s popularity spread and it quickly became a favourite British pastime. The genre was regional in character and reactive to local tastes. In Scotland, for example, music hall performances often featured traditional Scots songs and music and the poetry of Robert Burns. 

By the early 20th century music hall had started to fade away, and was gradually replaced with variety. Although similar in style to music hall, variety was more formal, audience participation was discouraged and new-purpose built theatres were created across Britain. The buildings often featured beautiful, ornate auditoriums with chandeliers, gold leaf decorations and red velvet seats. In Glasgow, venues such as the Empire Palace, Pavilion and Alhambra all became city centre landmarks, highlighting the importance of the genre for the city. 

Exterior of the Royal Princess's Theatre. Image from Scottish Theatre Archive
Ref: STA PH 483

The Royal Princess's variety programme featured names such as Neil Kenyon, Marie Kendall, Wal Langtry, Ella Retford and Florrie Forde. During the era, Scotland produced a wide range of home-grown variety stars including:

Tommy Lorne 
Image from the Scottish Theatre Archive.
Ref: STA H.h. 11
Tommy Lorne was a natural clown who starred in the Royal Princess's well-loved pantomimes. Born in the Cowcaddens area of Glasgow in 1890, some of his catch phrases even entered the local vocabulary - including "In the name of the wee man" and "Ah'll get ye, and if Ah don't get you the coos'll get ye!"

Grace Clark & Colin Murray
Image from the Scottish Theatre Archive.
This husband and wife team were better known as 'Mr and Mrs Glasgow'. Their comedy sketches portrayed Grace as the tough, tyrannical wife and Colin as the long-suffering husband. The duo starred in several Scottish Royal Variety performances and were awarded the British Empire Medial in 1982. 

Will Fyffe
Image from the Scottish Theatre Archive.
Ref: STA JLC PH 55 
The Dundee-born entertainer appeared on stage, radio, television and film. He was so well liked that a variety theatre in Glasgow ran a 'Will Fyffe' competition, where hopefuls entered to sing the star's best known song 'I belong to Glasgow'. Disguising himself, Will entered for a bet and won second prize!

The popularity of variety across much of the UK began to diminish in the 1930s as audiences turned to the talking pictures. The Royal Princess's Theatre was converted to a cinema, and later a bingo hall. The Citizens Theatre Company then took over the building in 1945 and developed an innovative programme of new plays and classic texts. But this May we are going back to our roots with a bit of 1918 style entertainment, and we hope you'll join us at the Citizens Theatre for A Night To Remember!

A Night To Remember is a community production, with a company drawn from the Gorbals and across Glasgow. It runs from 23 - 26 May. Tickets available from £10.50. Book Now.

Part of the Southside Fringe Programme


Monday, 9 April 2018

Getting Long Day's Journey Into Night ready for opening night

Assistant Director George Nichols reflects on the final few days of Long Day's Journey Into Night rehearsals:

At the time of writing, it is the day of our first preview, after having completed our technical rehearsal and two dress rehearsals. As this will (probably) be my last blog for this production I thought I’d talk about how everything comes together, and talk about some of the work that goes on in the build up to our opening night.

Production photography by Tim Morozzo

The work in the auditorium begins long before the cast and director arrive. While rehearsals are ongoing, the technical staff here set about turning Tom Piper’s design into a reality from technical drawings and of course, the model box. For those that don’t know a model box is a model of the final design but at a 1/25 ratio, so is basically a much smaller version of the set. This allows production team and the company to see what the set will eventually look like. 

Production photography by Tim Morozzo
The set design is complimented by the lighting. While the set design is likely to be fairly final going into rehearsals, the lighting design is more flexible and created in response to not only the set and costume design, but the action too. As Bríd, who  plays Mary Tyrone, noted: you know things are getting serious when the lighting designer is sitting in rehearsals. Lighting is always important, but it has an added significance in Long Day’s Journey because of James Tyrone’s relationship to the electric lights in his house, and also because we know from biographies about O’Neill that he had a particular interest in theatre lighting. Ben Ormerod’s lighting design does an excellent job of working with the set to accentuate important elements of the play. For example, this production plays with who you can see and when, and what members of the family do and don’t hear of each other’s conversations. By highlighting the stairs when someone is sat there, with a murky light, for example, Ben’s design helps us to tell the story of the play.

Production photography by Tim Morozzo
Another element that is built through rehearsals is the sound design. In our team we have Matt Padden, who is working on the atmospheric soundscape in the play, and Claire McKenzie, who is the composer of the music that features in the production. This has been another quite flexible element of the production, and something that we’ve been playing with throughout rehearsals. Even in previews we will be tweaking what you hear when in order to tell the story more effectively. A lot of thinking goes into when the best time to hear a fog horn might be, or which parts of the play have underscoring.

Production photography by Tim Morozzo

These two weeks are when everything comes together, everyone is working through the day and into the night (remind you of anything) in order to make the production the best it can possibly be. As we move away from the technical rehearsal and into the dresses and previews, the focus is once again on the actors. After each run Dominic notes the cast and we work bits in the space, tweaking things ever so slightly and then noting the effect they have on the audience. This work is about subtle changes and little tweaks, in order that all of the different elements of our production may be balanced perfectly.

Until 5 May

Long Day's Journey Into Night is a co-production with HOME Manchester
Supported by Friends of the Citizens
By arrangement with Josef Weinberger Limited

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Long Day's Journey Into Night: Week Four of rehearsals

Assistant Director George Nichols continues his blog from the rehearsal room of Long Day's Journey Into Night. This week he explains the importance of storytelling : 

It sounds obvious that when staging a play a big part of what you are doing is storytelling. But as anyone who has read a bedtime story to a child will have experienced, it is about more than just reading the words in front of you out loud.

So, how do we tell the story of a play? What tools do we have at our disposal?

One tool is the world we set the story in. Is it set in a completely naturalistic environment, or does it also include elements that are aesthetically poetic and metaphorical? Or is it symbolic? For example, if you were to do a production of Long Day’s Journey Into Night where all of the furniture was made of whiskey crates it would immediately bring alcohol to the fore. On the other hand, Tom Piper’s design for our production strips away the family’s privacy, which has its own effect on the story we are trying to tell.

Another tool is characterisation. When Laurence Olivier played James Tyrone in 1971 people commented on his how thick the Irish part of his Irish American accent was. This may have made James’s impoverished immigrant background more consistently present and set him apart from his sons; illuminating that facet of the story. Another example would be that in our production we’ve talked a lot about James Tyrone’s history as an actor, which in turn will have its own affect on the the story we share with you.

The staging itself is also a tool. As an assistant director one of the messages most impressed on me by the directors I have worked with is to make every moment on stage tell a little story that unlocks a new part of the text to the audience. An example of this from this week’s rehearsals is a moment when Edmund falls to the table in a fit of coughing and knocks over the whiskey bottle. As Jamie sees his brother coughing and the whiskey bottle rolling toward the edge of the table, does he go to help Edmund or does save the whiskey? I won’t give away our choice but this moment, played in two different ways, can tell two different stories.

Of course with a play like Long Day’s Journey Into Night your pneumatic drill (to extend the already tenuous tool box metaphor) is the text. Sometimes one of the hardest things to do is give the audience important information needed for the understanding of the play whilst keeping the action dramatic and engaging. An example this week was when we went back through the first act and reached a conversation between George and Jamie. In this exchange we learn a lot and it sets up much of the action of the rest of the play. For example we hear a bit about Edmund’s illness, about Jamie’s lifestyle, James’ relationship with money and hints about Mary’s morphine addiction. Eugene O'Neill's masterly writing means we are drip fed this information in a way that piques our interest and creates suspense. But rehearsing this can be difficult when you already know the plot so you have to constantly put yourself in your audience’s shoes. It’s great watching Dominic doing this sort of work, as by feeding little notes to the cast about what we learn when, and how they’re using this information to affect each other he manages not only to make the story clear, but charge it in a way that makes it more than just an exchange of facts.

The word ‘vision’ is a bit of a taboo phrase in relation to theatre directing, because it implies that a director might be forcing the story they want to tell on to a text that is doing something completely different. In actuality, storytelling is about working with the text and making lots of small, informed decisions that impact the world, characterisation and action of the play as truthfully and faithfully as possible. We are very much looking forward to sharing this story with you.

13 Apr - 5 May

Long Day's Journey Into Night is a co-production with HOME Manchester
Supported by Friends of the Citizens
By arrangement with Josef Weinberger Limited

Monday, 26 March 2018

Long Day's Journey Into Night: Week Three of Rehearsals

As we enter week four of rehearsals for Long Day's Journey Into Night Assistant Director George Nichols reveals how the play has been progressing so far:

In the rehearsal room this week we’ve been working through the play a second time. Because of the size of the play and the complexity of its language Dominic thought it particularly important that we get through it once before getting too in depth. That means that this week we’ve been asking more difficult questions, and have started to construct the characters and their world in more detail.

It’s a real privilege, from the perspective of a training director, to get to see such an experienced group of people work on one of the greatest plays ever written. Watching how fearlessly everyone is approaching a play of this size and scale, and with such attention to detail, is really humbling. At this point in rehearsals some moments start to really grab you, and you begin to see what the play will end up being. Sometimes a minute change affected by an actor or a note from Dominic can really illuminate a facet of the play that we didn’t understand before. This has made each day feel charged with energy and promise.

Other elements of the production have also started to come together this week. Bits and pieces of costume have started to come into the rehearsal room and temporary props are gradually being replaced with items that Tom Piper, our designer, is happy with. Clare McKenzie, our composer, is making progress on the music that will accompany the production and Matt Padden has been working on pieces of pre-recorded sound too. At the end of the week we welcomed our marketing team to the rehearsal room, along with Rachael from Home Manchester, to shoot our trailer and to take some footage of rehearsals.

All of this work can sometimes feel like it takes you out of the room and away from rehearsals, but it’s vitally important in order to make every aspect of the production as good as it can be. There is such a positive atmosphere around the theatre and with creating the best work possible being the guiding principle for everyone collaborating on the project we know this effort will contribute to an exceptional production of Long Day’s Journey Into Night.

Long Day's Journey Into Night runs at the Citizens Theatre from 13 Apr - 5 May.

It will then go to HOME Manchester 10 - 26 May

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Get to know Eugene O’Neill ahead of Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Eugene O’Neill is one of the most influential writers of the 20thcentury, without him there would be no Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams or Sam Shepard. His Long Day’s Journey Into Night is considered a pinnacle of 20th century American theatre. The autobiographical story is so personal and candid that O’Neill says he wrote it in “blood and tears”, and wouldn't allow it to be published in his lifetime.

So, here's five things you should know about the great American playwright. Swot up and impress your friends ahead of the show!

Eugene O'Neill in 1936
By Nobel Foundation, via Wikimedia Commons

1.       Eugene O’Neill‘s father was an actor whose greatest success was on the road so the family spent most of their lives travelling. O’Neill was actually born in a hotel room in Times Square, New York in 1888. He also died in a hotel room – in Boston in 1953.

2.       Like the character of Edmund in Long Day’s Journey Into Night, O’Neill battled tuberculosis. It was while he was recovering from his illness in a sanatorium that he found his calling as a playwright.

3.       O’Neill is the only American dramatist to be awarded the Nobel Prize, and the only person to have won four Pulitzer Prizes. He first won the Pulitzer Prize aged 31 for Beyond the Horizon. He was also awarded the prize for Anna Christie, Strange Interlude and Long Day’s Journey Into Night. 

4.       O’Neill wrote Long Day’s Journey Into Night for his third wife Carlotta Monterey on their 12th wedding anniversary. He requested that the play only be published 25 years after his death. His widow, however, waited just three years and the play was released in 1956. 

5.      O’Neill  continues to be referenced in literature and film. Jack Nicholson played Eugene O’Neill in Warren Beatty’s 1981 film Reds. Nicholson was nominated for the Academy Award for best Supporting Actor for his performance. 

Lorn Macdonald and Bríd Ní Neachtain in rehearsals for Long Day's Journey Into Night

Long Day’s Journey Into Night runs at the Citizens Theatre from 13 Apr – 5 May.
It will then go to HOME Manchester 10 - 26 May.


Amanda Gaughan

All of us at the Citizens Theatre were sad to hear the news this week of the death of theatre director Amanda Gaughan.

Amanda Gaughan. Image from Playwrights' Studio Scotland
Amanda was at the Citizens as a Trainee Director in 2011- 12, when she worked on Dennis Kelly's After the End and Roman Bridge by Martin Travers. She recently worked again with Martin on Annville, his new play in Scots and English which was presented at the Citizens Theatre, and at New Lanark and the Scottish Storytelling Centre. Amanda also directed a number of productions for the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh and the National Theatre of Scotland. 

Martin Travers, our Learning Producer, said this of Amanda: "Amanda Gaughan was creatively fearless. She had a fiery desire to make great work and had a gift for understanding the all too human relationships in plays that make theatre dramatic and emotionally charged.  She was a rare and precious talent. A Scottish female director that could deliver big plays onto main stages but was also brilliant when developing new writing – she could cut a new play like a jeweller cuts stones. We’ll miss her laugh and we’ll miss her smile and her energy and passion for life and theatre-making."

Everyone at the Citizens Theatre is thinking of Amanda's friends and families, and remembering the time that Amanda spent with us. 

Monday, 19 March 2018

Researching Long Day's Journey Into Night

Assistant Director George Nichols shares all the latest news from the Long Day's Journey Into Night rehearsal room. In week two they're exploring the historical context of the play.

George Costigan and Bríd Ní Neachtain in rehearsals
Long Day’s Journey Into Night takes place over one day in the life of the Tyrone family. This week we’ve concentrated on the second half of the play, which takes place in the late afternoon as it turns into night. As we discover more about the lives of the family we’ve had to learn more about the world of the play too, so this week’s blog looks at some of the research we’ve had to do.

An important but challenging aspect of the play that comes to the fore as we move to the latter scenes is the effect alcohol has on the characters. Attitudes to drinking in 1911 were very different to today and many families in America drank hard liquor habitually. At this time whisky was a common drink to have with your lunch and in the decade before prohibition in the 1920s America was consuming more alcohol per head than ever before. In the early 20th century the US was a melting pot of different nationalities and the drinking traditions of these countries, paired with the perception that alcohol was safer than dirty water, contributed to a heavy drinking culture.

Sam Phillips in rehearsals
Understanding this culture has been important for the actors because of its effect on the physical and mental capabilities of the characters as they become more inebriated. One of the challenges is understanding how much alcohol it takes to really affect the characters in the play, when the regularity with which the characters drank meant they were much better at holding their liquor than the average person from the 21st century. Another challenge is keeping track of how much a character has drunk to ensure their characteristics do not become inconsistent.

We want the world of the play to feel as real as possible and we’ve used lots of research to inform this, for example: tobacco culture. While some people smoked cigarettes in this period the main way people consumed tobacco was either by sniffing it (snuff) or by smoking a pipe. We’ve also had to look at the literature referenced in the play and the lives and poems of writers like Baudelaire, Swinburne, Wilde and Kipling. This extra reading means we can better appreciate the significance this work would have for the characters in the play.

Research is just one strand of our work that informs the staging of the play but it’s really important in understanding why characters act the way they do. It also means that as much as possible our decisions about the play are based in fact and not supposition.

13 Apr - 5 May

Friday, 16 March 2018

Q & A with Come Hell or High Water Composer Finn Anderson

Come hell or High Water is a community led production that focuses on people's hopes and fears for a future after Brexit. With a diverse cast of 25, some of whom have experienced long-term unemployment, the criminal justice system and addiction services, it draws on a series of workshops, discussions, improvisations and interviews that have taken place since October 2017.

Composer Finn Anderson has created a live score of original music and songs for the production. We sat down with him to find out more about the process.

You’ve worked with the Citz on a few productions now (Buckets, One More Sleep ‘til Christmas), how does Come Hell or High Water compare?

In terms of the process it has been completely different to anything I’ve worked on here before, or anything I’ve ever worked on! We’ve been working with the group since October. The first two months were just us all getting together, drinking tea and coffee, and talking about Brexit and what it means to be British. It was a very open space to share views and debate, and to get to know each other. The next stage was trying to shape those conversations into a piece of theatre. It feels like we’ve created a community in the room that has then become a cast. That is really unique.

This is the first time that I’ve worked on a production at the Citizens with lots of songs. I really love writing songs, and marrying music and words together. This is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to do that with the company here which has been really exciting. It’s also unusual as nearly all the words in the play, and definitely all the lyrics, are verbatim – they’ve come from real interviews with real people across Glasgow and Scotland.

So in all of those ways it is completely different to my previous work at the Citz!

How much work did you do in advance of rehearsals and how much is developed in the room?

The preparation phase was really the time we spent early on, having conversations over tea in the rehearsal room. During this time cast members also interviewed their friends and family about what it means to be British, about Brexit and about how it might impact their lives and about what it means to be living in Glasgow – whether you are a refugee that has recently moved to the city or you have lived here all your life. A lot of the content that has found its way into the script has come from these interviews, as well as our discussions in the room.

Were there opposing views in the room?

Yes there were opposing views in the room! And it’s so rare to have a space where a group of people can openly discuss their conflicting views, and at the same time work together towards a shared goal. It’s great because the group of participants have also now become a really good group of friends too. I think what has been really key is creating a supportive space where everyone feels they can share openly and won’t be judged for it.

What does your role of Composer entail?

As a composer I always tend to take musical style for any piece from the story, the characters and the setting. My role here is slightly different as I have the added responsibility of authentically representing different people’s opinions. So, rather than selecting a musical style what I’ve done is focus on what people have said and how they’ve said it, taking the rhythms of someone’s speech and using that to inform the rhythm of the music. For example, if someone said something really fast, or they had particular emphasis on a specific word, I’ve tried to incorporate that into the music.

My task has been putting all our different conversations to music without losing the original meanings and intentions behind the words. I’m aiming to create something that is accurate as well as theatrically and musically exciting. This has been a really fun challenge for me as composer.

Finn and the cast in rehearsals

What styles of music can we expect to hear in the show? Is it quintessentially British?

What I’ve done with the songs is pull out small excerpts from the interviews and tried to find hooks in them. I’ve selected parts that sound like they have a good rhythm or could be repeated as a chorus.  So, it is not a classical sound; it is not a particularly folksy sound. It has quite a catchy, upbeat feel to it.

Within that there will also be elements of Scottish folk, as well as different music from the many different cultures in the room, and the rich musical heritage that comes from all those different places.  I’ve tried to marry that with a musical theatre style.

Wow, that sounds like a really interesting mix!

It is a bit bonkers but somehow it works! It’s nice because everyone involved recognises their own voices in the songs.

What has been your favourite part of the process?

There are a few things. Firstly, getting to work with a group of 25 singers is very rare as a professional composer in the theatre – you hardly ever get to work with a company of that size. It’s also been brilliant working with such a diverse group of people on a joint project.  Meeting up with everyone on a regular basis over the past few months has been very special. Personally, it has really reconnected me to the joy of making theatre, of why I do it and why it is important. I’ve also loved getting to explore this particular topic through music. 

And what about the most challenging part of the process?

I would say the music – because all the lyrics are verbatim a lot of the music is very fast, and the rhythms are complex and difficult to learn. Trying to sing in the rhythm of someone else’s speech is actually quite tricky! These guys are doing an incredible job, but that’s a challenge for all of us.

The other big challenge is that balance between creating an exciting and theatrical show and being authentic. As soon as you put some sad music under something that was said, it suddenly makes it ten times sadder than that person intended. That’s fine if you are telling a fantastical, magical story but when you are putting real people’s words on stage you have to be more sensitive about using music to support those words without allowing it to change the meaning of them. This piece has been a real challenge from that point of view.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about the project?

I think this production is special because there is room for everybody and all their different opinions. I feel like the atmosphere we’ve created in the rehearsal room, where people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities feel their voice is valid, is something that should be found in more theatre foyers and audiences around the country. For me, it is exciting to be in a theatrical environment where everybody comes from completely different backgrounds but we are all united in a shared passion. I think that theatre has a unique ability to achieve that.

Sounds like you are going to miss your twice weekly meetings

I really am! It has been a highlight of the past six months for me. 

Come Hell or High Water is one of 50 new works commissioned by Sky Art’s Art 50 project, all on the theme of what it means to be British following the EU referendum. See it in the Citizens Theatre Circle Studio 21-24 March

Friday, 9 March 2018

Long Day's Journey Into Night : Inside the Rehearsal Room

Rehearsals for Long Day's Journey Into Night began this week and it's been wonderful to welcome old and new friends to the Citz to get torn into this epic American drama. Here, Assistant Director George Nichols shares his insights from behind the scenes:

With a masterpiece like Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night you want to make the most of every second of your rehearsals in order to bring the play to life; there’s no use in a slow start. So once we had all introduced ourselves and looked at Tom Piper’s stunning and atmospheric design we got straight to it. Dominic expressed his excitement at working with such a talented group of actors (George Costigan, Dani Heron, Lorn Macdonald, Bríd Ní Neachtain, and Sam Phillips) on what is surely one of the greatest plays of the twentieth century and he laid out how he sees the production and what he hopes we will achieve in the coming weeks.

As we started to work through the play the cast were struck by how the dialogue sounded so natural and real whilst also having a deep poetic resonance. This tempers the ugliness of much of the play, which deals with the raw wounds and bitterness at the heart of the Tyrone family. Even though we’re still in the early stages the tension and drama that permeate much of the text already feel very present which bodes well for when we get to share it with our audience in five weeks time.

On Tuesday and Wednesday we were blessed with the company and tutelage of our dialect coach Penny Dyer. The accents in Long Day’s Journey are particularly important as they act like a map of the characters’ lives. We should hear their heritage, and in the case of James and Jamie their professions too. The specificity of Penny’s work allows us strive toward an authentic and detailed production. As the play is epic in scale, both in length and subject matter, it is important we create a world that is specific and thorough in order to provide the best platform for this tornado of a play to take place. Useful companions in this regard are the many biographies which cover the life of Eugene O’Neill. While it would be unhelpful to suggest the play is an exact telling of O’Neill’s life, biographical information helps us to fill in the gaps in the world we are creating.

Already we are finding the work thrilling, and as we progress the play reveals more and more of its secrets to us. We’re looking forward to the coming weeks, and to getting completely swept away by the tornado.

13 Apr - 5 May

Long Day's Journey Into Night is a co-production with HOME Manchester
Supported by Friends of the Citizens
By arrangement with Josef Weinberger Limited

Thursday, 8 March 2018

SOS - #SaveOurStatues

To mark International Women's Day 2018, we are celebrating our inspirational muses, who have been watching over our foyer for several years. 

The Citizens Theatre Muses with Robert Burns & William Shakespeare, 1977
By John Crallan
The muses were created specifically for the Palace Theatre, which shared a frontage with the Citizens Theatre, by sculptor John Mossman. Mossman is responsible for many of the public statues in Glasgow, including the statues of Robert Burns and William Shakespeare which also stand in our foyer.

The statues represent the inspiration the muses have provided in the fields of Music (Euterpe), Comedy (Thalia), Tragedy (Melpomene) and Dance (Terpsichore).

They lived on top of the Palace Theatre until 1977 when the building was demolished. 

Citz Exterior Facade, 1977 by John Crallan

The muses, as well as the statues of Burns and Shakespeare, were rescued before the Palace's demolition by members of the company, who recognised their historical significance and their vital connection to the origins of the theatre. They later found a new home in the Citizens Theatre. 

Shakespeare being rescued from The Palace roof, 1977

As part of our redevelopment we'll be returning them to pride of place on top of the building, but they need a bit of TLC first! The muses have suffered over the years and require substantial restoration. Our planned conservation work will preserve the statues and improve their appearance by:
  • Restoring missing and damaged parts
  • Removing paint spots
  • Preventing water damage at vulnerable locations

Artist impression of redeveloped Citizens Theatre, set to open to the public in late 2020 

The restoration of each muse will cost £10,000. With just 100 donations of £100 each, we can save one of the muses, return them to their rightful place and ensure they keep inspiring future generations of theatregoers and Glaswegians.

If you'd like to contribute to the Citizens' redevelopment campaign and help #SaveOurStatues you can make a donation of £100, or any amount, here. 

The restoration of our muses is part of our wider building redevelopment to conserve, repair and expand our much loved home in the Gorbals. To find out more about the project please visit  

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Three Sisters' Assistant Director Fiona MacKinnon shares an insight into the rehearsals!

We are just over halfway through rehearsals. Which feels mad to say as the time has flown by! So here is a half time update on Three Sisters rehearsals so far. 

I was nervous on my first evening session with Lung Ha, because of how close I knew the company were. They are one of only a few ensemble companies in Scotland, training throughout the year, with some of the actors being there for 10 to 20 years. To shake off nerves, I decided to throw myself into the initial company warm-up and any apprehension about me joining - from myself, and the performers -was soon shed. A lot of dancing was had, and the closeness of the actors was really highlighted during some improvisation exercises around themes from the play. I left feeling welcomed and excited! A good start to my Lung Ha journey.

Once rehearsals started, we initially explored the story. Chekhov is complex and multi-layered, and so the first challenge was understand the narrative and characters. Chekhov writes more than one main part (a rare gift in theatre), which means there are love triangles, rivalries and many subplots to explore. We did this through character sheets, a giant storyboard that stays on the wall as a reference point, and many discussions along with scene work. We even had a day with just the three sisters, improvising around their relationship. This has led to a beautiful relationship between the three actors (Emma Clark, Emma McCaffrey and Nicola Tuxworth) that is authentic, trusting, and is clearly reflected in their scenes together. Although this is a classic text, it’s really enjoyable observing the actors find ownership, and their own interpretations of the characters.

Russian theatre director Konstanin Stanislavski directed the original Three Sisters with the Moscow Art Theatre, in the 1900’s. Although it became regular in their repertoire, Chekhov was unhappy with the original direction as he felt it was too “exuberant” to show the subtleties of the text. Maria Oller (Lung Ha’s Artistic Director) emphasised from the start that she wanted the acting to be as natural as possible. So once we had explored what was happening in the scene, and what intentions were, we looked at stripping back, and being in the moment. This has been an interesting challenge as the company have previously come from doing Moliere and a fun, interactive show at the Zoo, which both call for a very different style of acting. But the naturalism is paying off - the most heart breaking moments come from a character’s acceptance in their fate, or a moment of vulnerability on stage, and as we progress more moments like that are appearing.

It would be hard to talk about the first half of rehearsals without mentioning the giant RFO elephant in the room. A few weeks in, we got the heart-breaking news that Creative Scotland had decided to cut Lung Ha’s regular three year funding. This was a hard hit to the company, but Michael, Maria, the Lung Ha support team and actors did an incredible job at rallying support, fighting their cause while simultaneously continuing on with rehearsals. I have never been more inspired than watching their response to that situation. That really showed me the heart, strength and hard work that goes behind Lung Ha - everyone goes above and beyond what their role entails. I was surprised at how much the news affected me - in such a short space of time, how invested I had become in the company, and how lucky I felt to be working there. Fortunately, I wasn’t the only one who felt this way, and thousands of people rallied behind their cause, ultimately leading to a turn around in Creative Scotland’s decision. I didn’t realise there had been a fog in the rehearsal room, until it was lifted the day we found out the funding had been reinstated. We have a new drive and energy moving forward.

We’ve got the story, the style of acting and blocking (where people move on stage) down. The next step is the most exciting one - bringing the world alive. This includes working on our transitions, being in the moment in the scenes, and adding the live music! Next week we have the musicians flying over from Finland who will be adding their original compositions to the production, and I cannot wait!

Will update you then,

Fiona Mackinnon, Assistant Director on Lung Ha Theatre Company's Three Sisters.

1.30pm & 7.30pm 28 Mar