WHAT’S ON OCTOBER: WOMEN’S EXPERIENCES OF ASBESTOSIS GIVEN SPOTLIGHT IN NEW SHOW TOURING TO SCOTTISH COMMUNITIES
The Citizens Theatre and Stellar Quines have announced the tour of Fibres, a new play by Frances Poet. Touring to venues and community halls throughout Scotland, the production will be presented in Greater Glasgow, Edinburgh, Renfrewshire, Inverclyde and Argyll and Bute.
Written by award-winning playwright Frances Poet, Fibres uses wit and humour to explore the legacy of asbestos in the Clyde shipyards, giving weight to the stories of women and families affected by this crisis. During the twentieth century, Glasgow and the West of Scotland was the centre of asbestos production and consumption and today has the highest global incidence of mesothelioma, a deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Fibres binds together four interconnected stories in a funny and touching tribute to families and individuals affected by this issue.
On what inspired her to write Fibres, Frances Poet commented, “Five years ago, I met a woman at my daughter’s music class who told me that she had lost her parents six months apart. Her father had been a ship’s draftsman and had served a three-day apprenticeship on the ships. His exposure to the asbestos in those three days was enough to end not just his life prematurely but also that of his wife who washed his overalls. I knew about asbestos, as something dangerous from the past. I didn’t know that deaths from asbestos related diseases were still growing each year, that the West Coast of Scotland had, at that moment, the highest incidence in Europe or that some of the people dying were wives and weans who were exposed through their loved ones’ clothing. It broke my heart enough to write a play about it. But because it’s a Glasgow story, I found my characters making me laugh, even in the face of tragedy. Their resilience was irresistible. And suddenly the play I was writing wasn’t a tragedy but a love story with as many laughs as tears. I’m so glad Stellar Quines and the Citizens Theatre are taking the play to audiences across Scotland. I suspect our story will be met with many more stories shared after the show. I want to hear them all.”
A co-production with award-winning Scottish theatre company Stellar Quines, Fibres will be directed by Artistic Director and Chief Executive, Jemima Levick.
Stellar Quines is an award-winning organisation whose vision is to be Scotland’s leading touring theatre company, inspiring excellence in women and girls. Of the co-production, Jemima Levick commented, “I’m so excited to be bringing this brilliant, powerful play to audiences across the west coast of Scotland. Fibres is an incredibly moving and very funny piece that is deeply relevant to individuals and communities affected by the deadly legacy of asbestos. It’s a story that is often only told from the perspective of the men who suffered, ignoring the wider impact on women and children who have also been profoundly affected. Fibres elevates the women’s voice and brings the impact of this tragedy on families sharply into focus. At Stellar Quines, we are dedicated to creating work that nurtures, empowers and celebrates women and girls, through their stories, as artists and audiences, so we are particularly delighted that Fibres is part of the Citizens Women season in partnership with the Citizens Theatre.”
The Citizens Women season is a season committed to putting women actors, directors and stories centre stage. The season is dedicated to showcasing the extraordinary and wide-ranging talent of women theatre-makers.
Of taking Fibres on tour, Dominic Hill, Artistic Director of the Citizens Theatre commented, “It’s a great pleasure to be able to take Fibres, our co-production with Stellar Quines, to a range of performance spaces across Scotland. Whilst our home in the Gorbals undergoes a much-needed redevelopment, taking our work out into communities across Scotland is incredibly important to us. In Fibres, Frances Poet tells a critical and relevant story with compassion and humour. This is a brilliant opportunity to take this play to audiences who have been touched by the asbestos tragedy either directly or indirectly. It is also a funny and moving story that will be delivered by a fantastic, well-known cast.”
The cast includes much loved actor Jonathan Watson who has most recently starred in the BBC Scotland hit Two Doors Down. Born in Glasgow, Watson’s first job after training at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama was as a member of TAG Theatre Company, the outreach arm of the Citizens Theatre which was formed in 1967. Watson has since taken on iconic roles in Naked Video, City Lights, Rab C Nesbitt (BBC) and Only An Excuse (Comedy Unit). He is joined by Maureen Carr known to young audiences for her role in CBBC’s Molly and Mack and to the nation as ‘ugly sister’ Edith in Still Game and baddie Theresa O’Hara in River City. Carr is also co-founder of female comedy troupe, Witsherface.
The cast is completed by Suzanne Magowan (Baby Doll, Citizens Theatre; Hidden Doors, Village Pub Theatre; International Day of the Girl, Stellar Quines and Village Pub Theatre) and Ali Craig (Into That Darkness, Citizens Theatre; Hecuba and Victoria, Dundee Rep; Beautiful Burnout, The Making of Us and Macbeth, National Theatre of Scotland; Hamlet, Rapture Theatre Company).
The project is supported by Clydeside Action on Asbestos, a charity established in 1984 by men who had been diagnosed with an asbestos disease to provide practical advice and support to others affected by this condition. Phyllis Craig MBE, Manager of CAA said: ‘This is an incredibly important story that deserves to be told. The men and women who have lost their lives to asbestos must be remembered. Through a light-hearted and warm insight into one families’ experience, the impact that asbestos use has had on communities across Scotland can reach a wide audience. Whilst people are watching the production, I would like them to remember that thousands of people across the UK continue to be diagnosed with an asbestos related condition each year, because asbestos related disease does not develop until decades after the person was exposed to asbestos. If the audience can bear this in mind, then those who have died and continue to be diagnosed will not be forgotten.’
In addition to writer Frances Poet and Director Jemima Levick, the all-female creative team comprises Jen McGinley, Set and Costume Design (Interference, National Theatre of Scotland; Miss Julie, Perth Theatre at Horsecross Arts); Emma Jones, Lighting Design (The Lover, Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh; Peter Pan, Derby Theatre) and Patricia Panther, Sound Design (The Last Queen of Scotland, Stellar Quines production commissioned and supported by the National Theatre of Scotland and Dundee Rep; Glasgow Girls, presented by Pachamama Productions, originally co-produced by the National Theatre of Scotland, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Citizens Theatre & Richard Jordan Productions).
The tour runs from 17 October to 2 November 2019. Details of all venues and ticket information is available from citz.co.uk
TOUR VENUES AND DATES
Ticket information available from citz.co.uk
Barrowfield Community Centre Thu 17 Oct, 6pm & Fri 18 Oct, 2pm (previews)
67 Yate Street, Glasgow
Cove Burgh Hall Sat 19 Oct, 8pm
Shore Road, Cove
Paisley Arts Centre Tue 22 Oct, 7.30pm
15 New Street, Paisley
The Pearce Institute Thu 24 Oct, 7pm
840 – 860 Govan Road
Beacon Arts Centre Fri 25 Oct, 7.30pm
Custom House Quay, Greenock
St Francis Community Centre Sat 26 Oct, 7pm
405 Cumberland Street, Glasgow
Barmulloch Community Centre Sun 27 Oct, 7pm
46 Wallacewell Quadrant, Glasgow
Traverse Theatre Tue 29 – Wed 30 Oct, 8pm
10 Cambridge Street, Edinburgh
Barlanark Community Centre Thu 31 Oct, 7pm
33 Burnmouth Road, Glasgow
Dunoon Burgh Hall Fri 1 Nov, 7.30pm
195 Argyll Street, Dunoon
The Whiteinch Centre Sat 2 Nov, 7pm
1 Northinch Street, Glasgow
Ticket information from citz.co.uk / 0141 429 0022
Cast Maureen Carr; Ali Craig; Suzanne Magowan; Jonathan Watson
Director Jemima Levick
Writer Frances Poet
Set and costume Designer Jen McGinley
Lighting Designer Emma Jones
Sound Design Patricia Panther
“We were two weans playing at wee hooses, him in his first job and me being the good wife doing his washing. Now we’re both paying the price.”
Jack is proud of his work at the Clyde shipyards. His wife, Beanie, who is nursing him through asbestosis, thinks he’s a fool. But the real test of their marriage comes when they discover that the dusty overalls Jack brought home to be washed by Beanie, poisoned her too. This isn’t what she thought Jack meant when he promised “what’s mine is yours”.
Meanwhile their daughter, Lucy, attempts to overcome her grief. Will she be held back by her parents’ experience, or will she have the courage to allow romance to blossom with Pete?
Written by award-winning playwright Frances Poet, Fibres is a big-hearted and laugh out loud play about what it means to entwine our lives with another, in sickness and in health. A story told by four characters who show a very Glaswegian resilience and wit, the play asks can we ever cut the cords that bind us and who will catch us if we do?
With support from Clydeside Action on Asbestos.