Monday, 27 August 2018

Cyrano in Glasgow by John Corbett

Of all the objects of desire that populate Cyrano de Bergerac – from the passionate love triangle of Cyrano, Roxane and Christian, to Ragueneau’s perfect pastries – the most intense ardour is reserved for the language itself. Cyrano’s rhetoric displays his fantastic imagination, his bravado, his camaraderie, his contempt for cowards, fools and hypocrites, his self-disgust, and his yearning for the unattainable Roxane. And it is his language that ultimately wins her love. 

Roxane (Jessica Hardwick) and Cyrano (Brian Ferguson) in rehearsals
Image by Tim Morozzo

In the translation by Edwin Morgan, who was, of course, a civic bard before he was a national makar, Cyrano’s language is rooted firmly in the rhythms and idiom of Glasgow, though it ranges beyond its origins, cadging words and phrases from elsewhere, whilst peppering the audience with pop cultural references too such as Gucci, Rambo and the Body Shop. But, at heart, the play is in Glaswegian, and Morgan’s use of the patter proves it capable of those things we knew it could do well, but also those perhaps we didn’t. Naturally, Cyrano’s Glaswegian does gallus invective beautifully, drawing on old flyting traditions to skewer whatever opponents get in his way, like the Troublemaker who, warily, says of his enormous nose ‘it’s wee, it’s toty’. Cyrano explodes into an ecstatic rage:

 Ya snubby-honkered bap-faced nyaff, this thing
Ah cairry is a thing Ah’m proud tae sing,
For a big nose is ay a sign o wan
That’s kind and croose and guid tae ivrywan,
Witty and free, no yella – jist like me!

But Morgan’s Glaswegian also does pathos and flirtatious lyricism, as when Cyrano, impersonating Christian, speaks from his place of concealment to Roxane on her balcony:

                You see the bleckness of a lang-tailed coat,
                Ah see the whiteness of a simmer dress;
                Ah’m but a shedda, you are aw brightness.
                Minutes oota life! Ye’ll nivir know how rerr!
                If Ah wis eloquent at times…

To which Roxane can only reply, ‘Ye were, ye were!’ Edwin Morgan’s translation of Cyrano de Bergerac is one of the great dramatic showcases for Glasgow Scots. Like the citizens of Morgan’s home city, the characters in the play are all performers, revelling in a full-throated wit, and combining chest-thumping audacity with tenderness and vulnerability. But it’s their language you will ultimately fall for. Take your seats and prepare to be seduced.

Cyrano rehearsals. Image by Tim Morozzo

John Corbett is a CAPES International Fellow and Visiting Professor at the University of Sao Paulo.

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. 

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Edwin Morgan: A Biographical Note

Edwin Morgan was the first Scots Makar in modern times. Imaginative, curious and lively, he was one of the best-loved and most influential poets of the 20th century. Here, Professor James McGonigal of the Morgan Estate provides more information about the Scottish author:

How to sum up a poet who was also a performer, librettist, translator, editor, broadcaster and critic? ‘Creativity’ might be the word, energetic and sustained. 

Image by Alex Boyd (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Edwin Morgan (1920–2010) spent his whole life in Glasgow (setting aside four years’ military service in the Middle East) but through writing he explored different eras, cultures, characters and forms. Translation was one way of doing this. His earliest books were from Anglo-Saxon (Beowulf, 1952), Italian (Eugenio Montale, 1959) and Russian (Sovpoems, 1961). 

Experimental concrete and sound poetry offered another way, as did computer and science fiction poetry, often in the voices of machines. His breakthrough collection, The Second Life (1968) combined these with Glaswegian voices and settings, vibrant with life, as well as tender gay love poems, half-concealed. From Glasgow to Saturn (1973) and The New Divan (1977) extended these themes, bringing international recognition. Poetic drama, whether medieval French and Dutch folk plays for Glasgow’s Third Eye Centre in the 1980s, or the more ambitious Cyrano (1992) and Phaedra (2000), seemed a natural development, and a challenge. His millennial A.D. trilogy on the life of Jesus questioned pious interpretations of a radical message. 

Terminally ill with cancer, Morgan continued to produce powerful and prize-winning poetry in Cathures (2002) and A Book of Lives (2007). He seemed to possess, one reviewer noted, ‘More lives than a basketful of kittens’.  

Take a look at the Edwin Morgan Archive at the Scottish Poetry Library to learn more about the poet's life and work. 

Our forthcoming co-production of Edwin Morgan's Glasgow-Scots translation of Cyrano de Bergerac will be a great opportunity to experience the verve and energy of Morgan's writing. See it at Tramway from the 1st September

Cyrano rehearsals
Image by Tim Morozzo

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. 

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Cyrano de Bergerac: Introducing Nikola Kodjabashia

The creative team behind Cyrano de Bergerac are working hard preparing for opening night on the 1st September. (If you haven't got your tickets yet, you can book them here.) 

We've already introduced our costume designer Pam Hogg and set designer Tom Piper. This week we’re getting to know the inimitable Nikola Kodjabashia. Read on to find out more about the Macedonian composer, conductor and sound designer. 

“All composers want to sound unique – but few manage to be as distinctive as Nikola Kodjabashia…” (John L Walters, Guardian, July 2014)

Nikola Kodjabashia in rehearsals for Cyrano
Image by Tim Morozzo 

Nikola is considered to be one of the most eminent representatives of the Balkan and Eastern European musical avant-garde today. After studying music in Bucharest and at King's College London, Nikola's 
first job in theatre was as musical director of Sir Peter Hall’s production of The Bacchai at the National Theatre. Since then he has composed scores for arts organisations across the UK and Europe including Young Vic, the Donmar Warehouse, Traverse Theatre, HOME Manchester and Macedonian National Opera.  You can listen to some of his music here.

Nikola's distinctive soundscapes have been central to many of Dominic Hill’s most popular productions at the Citizens Theatre, including Crime and Punishment which earned him a 2014 CATS nomination in the Music and Sound category. Typically the full cast are involved in creating the unusual melodies and evocative sound effects which are performed live on stage. Here's a round-up of Nikola's past Citz productions:


Oresteia: This Restless House

Hansel and Gretel

A Christmas Carol


Crime and Punishment

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 - 3 Nov and Eden Court 7 - 10 Nov. 


Monday, 6 August 2018

Cyrano de Bergerac: Introducing Tom Piper

Meet the brilliant creative team behind Cyrano de Bergerac! Last week we introduced our Costume Designer Pam Hogg, this week we’re getting to know the talented Set Designer Tom Piper.

Tom originally trained as a biologist but, luckily for us, was seduced by design when he got involved with student theatre at Cambridge in the mid-80s. He swapped course and took up Art History instead. During his university days Tom designed more than 30 plays – including for his friend and former classmate the stage and film Director Sam Mendes.

Tom says that he got his big breakthrough whilst at Slade Art School in 1990. It was there that he met Costume and Production Designer ChloƩ Obolensky, who invited him to work with her in Paris on Peter Brook's production of the Tempest. From this point, Tom's career has gone from strength to strength. As Associate Designer of the Royal Shakespeare Company (2004 - 2014), Tom designed over 30 of their shows including The Histories for which he won an Olivier for best costume design.

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red
Image by Paul Cummins (CC By-SA 3.0)
As well as set design Tom has created some impressive exhibitions. Most famously, he worked with the Artist Paul Cummins on Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red. The exhibition struck a chord with the public and was seen by over five million people. It won several awards including the London First Award for Cultural Excellence, Special Award Civic Trust, and the Heroes Award from the charity Help the Heroes. In recognition of the work, Tom and Paul were also both awarded the MBE in the 2015 New Year Honours. Other recent exhibitions include Winnie-the-Pooh; Exploring a Classic at the V&A, and Shakespeare Staging The World at the British Museum. 

Long Day's Journey Into Night was nominated for a CATS Award for Best Design in 2018.
Image by Tim Morozzo
Cyrano de Bergerac isn't Tom’s first collaboration with Citizens Theatre Artistic Director Dominic Hill. Tom and Dominic have worked together on many classic Citz shows including King Lear (2012), The Libertine (2014), Hamlet (2014), Hay Fever (2017) and Long Day’s Journey Into Night (2018). They've also teamed up on productions at Dundee Rep (including on Twelfth Night - winner of Best Design CATS Award) and the Traverse Theatre. Their partnerships are always eye-catching and we’re looking forward to seeing what they come up with for Cyrano de Bergerac.

For more insights into Tom's design process have a listen to the Citizens Theatre podcast, where he chats to Lighting Designer Ben Ormerod about their longstanding collaboration with Dominic Hill. You can also visit his website at 

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.