Category Archives: FEATURES

FEATURE: Tron Ambassadors 2018

Since 2003 the Tron Theatre has enabled young people to experience a range of the career opportunities available within a modern fully-operational theatre via the one-year Tron Ambassadors scheme. Through the scheme the intention is to foster deeper connections with the Tron Theatre, and the work they do both in-house and within the community, as well as an understanding of the wider theatre and creative arts industries.

The Ambassadors take part in regular workshops with Tron staff, external visitors and leading professionals to identify and develop transferable skills.  Previous Tron Ambassadors have worked with the Tron’s production, marketing and front of house departments, theatre critics, set and costume designers and professional actors and directors.

This year, as well as the excellent opportunities and insight offered on the programme, the Tron Ambassadors will also be eligible to gain an Arts Award qualification from their full participation in the programme.

This year, I was again delighted to deliver the Theatre Criticism/Theatre Blogging workshop. As well as learning about the technical aspects of running a theatre website, we looked at the opportunities/transferrable skills that can help you pursue a career in different aspects of the arts, the pros and cons of running a theatre website and how to approach writing reviews.

As ever, the breadth of talent is truly inspiring and I am delighted to feature some of the Ambassadors’ reviews of National Theatre of Scotland and Theatre Gu Leòr’s play Scotties.

Head to the reviews section or click the link HERE to read.

INTERVIEW: Scottish actor Martin Docherty currently touring Scotland with acclaimed play McLuckie’s Line.

Scottish actor Martin Docherty, who is currently touring Scotland with McLuckie’s Line chatted with Glasgow Theatre Blog about this hugely acclaimed show, coming to Glen Halls in Neilston on Tuesday 25 September and Eastwood Park Theatre on Wednesday 26 September.

Tickets are £9, available from: https://www.eastwoodparktheatre.co.uk/article/9670/McLuckies-Line.

Tell us a little bit about the play.

The play is a funny, sad , raw hard hitting monolougue about Lawrence McLuckie , an out of work actor and compulsive gambler who is waiting in a hospital corridor for his first session of Chemo after being diagnosed with cancer. He is also waiting on a call from his agent about the biggest part he will have ever had. He can’t stand the silence so he begins to talk.

And your role…

McLuckie’s Line is an old fashioned working class tale where I play 32 characters!

McLuckie is a nice guy who has been dealt a bad hand. He’s a great actor but like most actors he struggles to get work. He has always seen life as a bit of a gamble but the stakes are really high. He ponders his life as he faces his mortality.

How has the play been received so far, has it been different in different locations?

The play is very Glaswegian and goes down a storm in Glasgow and the surrounding area but it is also going down well in Inverness, Dundee and Stirling. People no matter where can relate to Mcluckie or other characters in the play.

What is life like backstage on tour?

Life backstage on this show is different from any other I’ve done mainly because I’m on my own. It can get a bit lonely. I have to ensure the lights, sound queues etc are spot on and ensure before I leave the house that I have everything as there is no stage manager. I feel I’m learning all the time though I could do with a chum now and again.

Touring can be demanding, how do you keep your performance fresh/look after yourself when you’re having to travel as well as perform on stage at night?

The travelling and performing is something I’m used to as an actor.  It can be tough and a little stressful relying on Scotrail. I tend to get to the venue around 2.30pm, run the technical stuff then try and relax. Then ensure I have a good meal and get home asap to get enough sleep. It’s tricky trying to peak at 7.30pm but like I say I’ve been acting for 21 years so my body is used to it, I guess.

Can we go back a bit and talk about what inspired you to become an actor and the path you took to become one?

I started acting when I was 10 years old thanks to my sister who was in an amateur company. My first part was the Artful Dodger in Oliver. I auditioned for the RSAMD when I was 20, was accepted and I loved it. It truly is my dream job and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.

Any advice for aspiring performers?

Advice for actors…..I would say only do it if it really is your dream. Be prepared to take rejection and have periods without work and constantly work at your craft.  When not working spend at least an hour doing something, your voice, your physicality, sight read the newspaper. You must always be trying to improve.

Finally, why should people come along to see the play? and where else can we see it?

People should come and see McLuckie’s Line as it deals with many issues that can affect us all . You’ll laugh, you may cry. It’s just me, three chairs and some props . There is no fancy set or costumes . It’s theatre stripped back to pure storytelling. Most importantly I think you’ll have a good night out at the Theatre. There is something for everyone I’m McLuckie’s Line. Writer Martin (Traverse) and I are very proud of it.

Glen Halls in Neilston on Tuesday 25 September and Eastwood Park Theatre on Wednesday 26 September.

Tickets are £9, available from: https://www.eastwoodparktheatre.co.uk/article/9670/McLuckies-Line.

NEWS: New site WeAudition offers actors an innovative way to rehearse and audition

Actors and performers can benefit from one-on-one career advice from industry professionals, audition or take general meetings with casting directors and agents with new site WeAudition.com. Casting Directors, Producers, Agents & Managers can also create a video room to meet actors and record auditions. Private invite or open calls, all with superior video quality.

ACTORS CAN:

  • Rehearse though video chat with other actors around the world on demand
  • Record your self-tapes with a video partner
  • Submit to auditions and general meetings
  • Get career advice, one-on-one from industry professionals
  • Superior video quality, no downloads needed
  • Earn money by rehearsing with and coaching other actors
  • Save time and money not traveling to auditions and rehearsals
  • Network with other professional working actors

CASTING DIRECTORS/PRODUCERS:

  • Use easily with your preferred submissions service
  • Record, save and send best takes
  • Superior video quality, no downloads needed
  • Direct and interact with actors
  • Fast, efficient waiting room system
  • Great for pre-reads or location casting

Glasgow Theatre Blog is offering a discount code for the site.

Using the code: GTB25 , Glasgow Theatre Blog Readers can receive a huge 25% discount.

Visit WeAudition.com for more info and check out @WeAudition on Twitter


FUN FROM THE ARCHIVES: Broadway Bears

With the blog nearly seven years old and while flicking through the archives, I stumbled upon some posts from the early days of the site that I’d forgotten about. So in this short series of blasts from the past, here are some fun favourites that deserve another airing.

First up it’s Broadway Bears.

For 15 years The Broadway Bears, the annual auction of handmade, one-of-a-kind, theatrically costumed teddy bears raised money for the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS appeal. 2012 saw the final auction and was among the most spectacular, bringing the total collected for the charity to more than 2 million dollars.

Can you name all of the musicals involved? Answers at the end of each gallery.

Cats, Grease, Jersey Boys, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Follies, The Book of Mormon, The Lion King, The Producers and War Horse.

Avenue Q, Beauty and the Beast, Billy Elliot, Evita, Jerusalem, Mamma Mia, Shrek, Sister Act and Wicked.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Backstage photo tour of Glasgow’s Theatre Royal

Here is a glimpse behind the scenes of Glasgow’s oldest and Scotland’s longest-running theatre, the Theatre Royal.

Originally opening as the Royal Colosseum & Opera House in 1867, the theatre changed its name in 1869 on receiving its royal charter (and confirmation of respectability) from Queen Victoria.

Literally hewn from the stone quarry below, it has survived multiple fires, changes of ownership and a stint as the headquarters of Scottish Television and now stands resplendent on the corner of Hope Street and Cowcaddens Road, its Victorian auditorium restored to its full glory and its 2014 extension shining like a splendid jewel. Home to Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet the grande dame of Scottish theatre is better than it has ever been in its near-150 year life.

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The new foyer and staircase designed by Page and Park and opened during the 2014 festive season.

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FEATURE: From Stage to Screen – Pop Art inspired by Film Adaptations of Stage Plays.

Art & Hue treads the boards for the new collection of pop art inspired by plays adapted into films.
From the glitzy showbiz of musicals to the provocative black comedy of Joe Orton, Art & Hue has transformed images from the archives of Studiocanal into eight stylish pop art prints which celebrate iconic productions and actors.

All prints in the From Stage to Screen collection are available in three sizes and a wide choice of colour options, including a new combination of vibrant orange & purple inspired by posters from the 1968 production of The Anniversary starring Bette Davis.

The theatrical collection includes a re-imagined poster for the first all-British talking picture with sound released in 1929, BlackMail directed by Alfred Hitchcock, as well as Joe Orton’s Entertaining Mr Sloane with Beryl Reid, Peter McEnery & Harry Andrews.

Screen doyenne Bette Davis in The Anniversary gets the Art & Hue treatment as does the cult B-movie sci-fi production of Devil Girl From Mars with Patricia Laffan.

The Edinburgh-set musical Let’s Be Happy is pure Strictly-come-dancing ballroom glamour, with Tony Martin in his white tuxedo and Vera-Ellen as a high-kicking showgirl.

Completing the collection, ukulele king George Formby features in an illustrated reworking of “Turned Out Nice Again” and Barbara Windsor takes centre-stage as the prominent star of Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop production of “Sparrows Can’t Sing”.

A stylish way to bring the theatre into the home, the collection features Art & Hue’s signature halftone style (halftone is an age-old technique that uses dots to make up the printed image, similar to newspapers or comic books).

Unlike traditional posters, which are printed on thin paper with inks that fade, Art & Hue creates giclée art prints, printed on 310gsm archival card, made from 100% cotton, with fine-art museum-grade pigment inks to last hundreds of years.
Available exclusively online at artandhue.com/plays  

FEATURE: Tron Ambassadors guest reviews

This month, I again had the chance to work with the Tron Theatre on their Ambassadors programme, delivering their theatre reviewing workshop.

The Tron Ambassadors scheme gives pupils the chance to be behind-the-scenes at a working theatre. It enables young people to make a deeper connection with the Tron Theatre and gain a better understanding of the industry. As well as providing participants with opportunities to take part in workshops, tasks, and interviewing and observing industry professionals, the Ambassadors are given opportunities to understand the transferable skills they are learning and how they can be applied to any career path they choose to take when leaving school.

Below are the reviews submitted by this year’s Ambassadors, I am sure you’ll agree the quality in many instances is equal to that of any published critic. Biographies of the writers are available at: https://www.tron.co.uk/education/work-for-schools/tron_ambassadors/

Stand By – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

Reviewer: Daniel Cawley

Stand By is an exceptionally well written and powerful piece of theatre from the pen of former police officer Adam McNamara, who reverently conveys to the audience the warts and all portrayal of the all too often hidden aspect of on the ground police work.

By looking at the strength of character of four very different personalities and how their work impacts on their personal lives, this helps humanise the people behind the uniform who, as authority figures are often perceived as indifferent and emotionless to these qualities.

With much of the action taking place within a simulated, dimly lit police van, the play, on this occasion expertly directed by Joe Douglas, draws the audience in even further through the unique and innovative use of amplified earpieces. These allow the audience to hear radio broadcasts in sync with the actors and immerses them in the tension felt by police officers on call.

With some hilarious comedic moments and strong physical theatre elements this is a show not to be missed and thoroughly deserves the rave reviews received to date.

So, don’t stand by and let this one escape, catch it while you can.

Team Viking – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

Reviewer: Daniel Cawley

Following on from its successful run at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, James Rowland brings his captivating one man show Team Viking to audiences across the country.

Using every inch of the almost bare stage and delivering his soliloquy in a black funeral suit, Rowland paints a picture of childhood memories and friendships forged, interspersed with music and rhyme, with verses becoming longer and more descriptive with each passing scene.  The main focus of the show is the personal homage Rowland pays to his friend who has asked for something special when he dies.  And special it is.

Coming quicker than any of them expected (his friend being diagnosed with an aggressive form of heart cancer at the tender age of 25), Rowland and other friend Sarah decide to re-enact a scene from all three’s favourite childhood film The Vikings and proceed to give their friend a Viking send off, casting him adrift in a boat set alight which proceeds to blow up with a ‘BOOM.’

From his hilarious rendition of body snatching from the chapel of rest before his friend becomes one with the earth, through to the genuine anguish he feels in the loss of his friend, Rowland’s expert storytelling can flip the mood from laugh out loud hilarity to sombre and reflective in a split second – leading the audience to experience a genuine emotional rollercoaster during the hour long set.

With simple and effective staging by director Daniel Goldman, this production is beautifully done and the true connotations of the story, albeit alluded to as the end not being the end, strike a chord with much of the audience.

If Team Viking is anything to go by, Rowland’s newest venture 100 Different Words For Love is a must see, even if just to see a storytelling master at his craft.

Team Viking – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

Reviewer: Harry Reid

Team Viking is the true story of narrator, James Rowland, giving one of his best friends a proper Viking burial after contracting a very rare type of heart cancer.

From the very start of the performance there’s a strong connection to the characters through Rowland’s way of telling a story. He does a brilliant job of bringing you into his life and making you feel like you are also his friend, you are talking to him and no one else. There are no other actors, which makes the whole story that much more human, it’s like a friend telling you a crazy story that happened to them.

The connection to the characters strengthens as the story progresses, with us following James into his spiral of depression. We can really see and understand the emotions that he was feeling at that time, and by the end of the production, it has you holding back tears, you really see how much James cared for his friend.

The incorporation of the song that Rowland wrote into the play is also very clever. Each time a section of the song was added, it reflects the emotions that James is feeling at that point in the story: with the happy melody at the start, giving off an innocent vibe, then with the vocal inclusion, the use of different tones of voice showed James’ emotions, and then the beat of the song being included when James was at his lowest point. At first, these musical transitions are a bit jarring and confusing, but by the end of the play the puzzle pieces connect and it makes sense.

The delivery is spot on. Rowland manages to nail every joke and strike a reaction from the audience whenever he wants, he speaks to the audience like real people, a trait that’s very admirable. Overall, Team Viking is a wonderful dive into this sentimental story in the life of James Rowland with great acting and delivery. Highly recommended – see it if it ever comes back.

Stand By – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

Personal response by Morven Little

On the days leading up to Stand By I was, admittedly, a little sceptical. The premise didn’t particularly spark any interest in me, and the topic isn’t something I tend to gravitate towards, but I tried to remain open-minded. It may not have been a show that I would have necessarily chosen to see, but nevertheless, I wasn’t entirely disinterested; the inclusion of the ear pieces was intriguing, and I was very excited to discover how the stage would be set up. And, ultimately, I was pleasantly surprised.

At first, I struggled a little to get into it, but soon, I actually found myself quite enjoying it. The earpieces, which I had anticipated as being slightly distracting, were an extremely clever addition and enhanced the overall performance. The technology worked wonders in making me feel that I was part of the narrative, and allowed me to connect with the police officers very easily. I especially enjoyed the use of the earpieces at the beginning of the show: as the lights dimmed, a drum beat began playing through the earpieces, and was soon joined by additional instruments playing through the theatre sound system. This, in my opinion, was an excellent touch, and made the audience pay attention to their earpieces from the very beginning.

I also adored the minimalistic way in which the show was presented. By having only four characters and little interaction with the world outside the van (besides transmissions over the earpieces and few sound effects), writer Adam McNamara created a very insular environment. At points in the show, some of the officers would leave the van, but the audience never left with them – we were restricted to the confines of the van. This was effective for a multitude of reasons: it gave those watching an impression of the lack of information about the situation the officers were receiving, allowed the show to be much more character-driven, and gave the audience ample time to connect and get to know the characters – a necessary part of any drama piece. It was like a dramatic monologue with more than one narrator; a simple set up, but with small details throughout in order to give an insight to the absent world outside. My favourite example of this was the sound of raindrops hitting the roof of the van, so silent that I barely even registered it. And the writing itself was just as subtle. Details of each character’s personal lives were weaved into witty banter and smart, sharp dialogue. As the show progressed, you discovered more about their lives out of uniform and developed sympathy for them. I felt as though I knew the characters and found that I genuinely cared about what happened to them – testament to both brilliant performances from the actors and fabulous writing and direction.

Overall, I was very surprised by how much I enjoyed Stand By. It was genuinely funny, believable, sharp and extremely clever, and has encouraged me to be more open to shows that I wouldn’t have necessarily chosen to see.

Team Viking – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

Reviewer: Josh Brown

James Rowland stars in this joyous one-man performance reflecting his enjoyment, devastation, struggle with life and the biggest hurdle he has encountered as his best friend Tom is diagnosed with heart cancer and Tom has been given only 3 months to live. But Tom has one wish and that is to have a Viking Burial.

You will cry with laughter then the next minute sadness, as the astonishing acting from Rowland makes you feel so much in the space of so little time. He takes you from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other. Rowland connects to his audience on a different level, as through his story you feel as if you’ve known him for years and he’s a close friend, in the theatre he creates a warm atmosphere and you just love him and support him through his struggles.

The comedy is sharp and witty and very natural and to the point. You feel as if you are great pals just having a laugh about something you really know you shouldn’t be laughing about. James’s balance of laughter and the depressing reality of life is phenomenal. This show is an absolute must see.

*****

Stand By – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

Reviewer: Lillian Harle

Adam McNamara’s honest telling of policing in Scotland is witty and an honest representation of a life in blue. The audience are emerged in the performance from start to finish, wearing police earpieces with assorted situation reports being sounded. This only adds to the authenticity of the story. He portrays a somewhat mundane operation of four officers in a riot van waiting to be called into action to deal with a machete wielding maniac. The key word here is mundane. McNamara’s use of mundane topics lulls the audience into a false sense of security then smacks them with the brutal honesties of the simple dangers of being a police officer.

With Joe Douglas’ direction and Adam McNamara’s writing as well as performance, Stand By brings an authentic and fresh perspective on the Scottish police force. The audience are faced with four of Scotland’s finest: Chris (Adam McNamara), the sergeant in charge who is riddled with domestic problems; Rachel (Jamie Marie Leary), the straight talking and quick witted female officer; Davey (Andy Clark), the Dundee born and bred officer and Marty (Laurie Scott), an English transfer from London. The actors created a great chemistry between them, all by portraying realistic characters that the audience can relate to.

Natasha Jenkins uses a minimalistic set design in order not to take away from the witty and well written script. McNamara establishes the character’s personalities through the workaday conversation of the officers bored and waiting for orders. The writer creates a tense atmosphere through the use of the earpieces where orders are relayed in real-time to the audience.

Team Viking – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

Reviewer: Lewis Cox

Team Viking by James Rowland is a beautiful, simplistic but oddly mesmerising production.

On first entering and realising this is a one man show, there’s a slight trepidation: how on earth would one man be able to entertain an audience for a full hour and 20 minutes? Where on earth was his set? Will we get bored? As soon as the show begins all these questions disappear as quickly as they appear.

Through the simplicity of the lights and staging there are no barriers between the audience and the story. With nothing to guide us except Rowland’s words and movements everything comes naturally with a warming, but also at times moving performance. This is especially refreshing to see as constant set changes or cluttered and busy sets often lead the audience to dart their eyes around to gain understanding as to where they are.

There’s laughter, hysterical at times, but there is an underlining sadness throughout which makes it truly special, something we can all relate too. Directly addressing the audience is a wonderful feature as we feel like an integral part of the story, clinging onto every word anticipating what is going to happen next in this bizarre tale.

The breaking up of the story into what could be almost called ‘chapters’ was effective. Rowland always leaving the audience hanging, anticipating what was to come, mainly thanks to the terrific acting which one minute could have you howling with laughter, or almost in tears.

The Viking hat in the background is a nice simple prop, sitting there constantly reminding us of the meaning and reason for this performance, it helps set the scene more than any fancy backdrop could.

On a negative note, at certain times things need to be explained, or introduced and then the story then rambles off at a tangent, leaving you wishing for the story to kick back into life again.

Overall Team Viking is a heart-warming and hilarious play with some fine acting, and though simplistic, it has the ability to conjure up many emotions. It is a performance that will stick with you well into the journey home.

Team Viking – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

Reviewer: Ross Anderson

Team Viking is a one man show where James Rowland tells us a story about his best friend dying and Rowland his friends fulfilling his dying wish, to get a Viking send off. It was a great show with both comedy and sadness. The audience were in tears with laughter one moment then the next full of emotion.

FEATURE: Pyro thrills at Artem Special Effects

In this third photo blog from behind the scenes at Artem, Glasgow it’s time to bring on the wind, rain and fire, as well as the big bangs.

First up some smoke and wind effects:

Next some brave souls getting shot at:

The classic glass breaking:

WALL OF FIRE!

Time for the big bangs:

For anyone who hasn’t followed the first two photo blogs on Artem the Special Effects experts you can find them here and here.

FEATURE: Special Effects Make Up from Artem, Glasgow

In the second blog from behind the scenes at Artem, here’s how those gory wounds you see on the big screen are created. But, first, if you missed the first photo blog, here’s a little background.

Artem Special Effects Ltd has been designing and producing physical special effects for film, television, commercials and music videos since its inception in 1987.  A BBC approved supplier, Artem has fully stocked and serviced workshops in Glasgow and West London. The company works across all creative sectors including film, television, commercials, museums and exhibitions and provides the full spectrum of physical SFX.

Artem’s film credits include T2 Trainspotting, Paddington 2, Valhalla Rising, Perfect Sense, The Eagle, The Legend of Barney Thomson, I Survived a Zombie Apocalypse, Macbeth, Sunset Song, Whisky Galore and the up-coming The Foreigner with Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan. They have worked with Take That, Meghan Trainor, U2 and Coldplay. In commercials with Nike, Sainsburys, Vodaphone, Sony to name a tiny sample. Theatre work includes Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. They have also delivered many spectacular, iconic props and SFX for the London 2012 Olympics & Paralympics – the giant Voldemort, Queen of Hearts and Cruella de Ville to mention just a few and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games – who remembers the giant Tunnocks Teacakes?

FEATURE: BEHIND THE SCENES AT ARTEM SPECIAL EFFECTS’ GLASGOW STUDIO.

Artem Special Effects Ltd has been designing and producing physical special effects for film, television, commercials and music videos since its inception in 1987.  A BBC approved supplier, Artem has fully stocked and serviced workshops in Glasgow and West London. The company works across all creative sectors including film, television, commercials, museums and exhibitions and provides the full spectrum of physical SFX.
Artem’s film credits include T2 Trainspotting, Paddington 2, Valhalla Rising, Perfect Sense, The Eagle, The Legend of Barney Thomson, I Survived a Zombie Apocalypse, Macbeth, Sunset Song, Whisky Galore and the up-coming The Foreigner with Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan. They have worked with Take That, Meghan Trainor, U2 and Coldplay. In commercials with Nike, Sainsburys, Vodaphone, Sony to name a tiny sample. Theatre work includes Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. They have also delivered many spectacular, iconic props and SFX for the London 2012 Olympics & Paralympics – the giant Voldemort, Queen of Hearts and Cruella de Ville to mention just a few and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games – who remembers the giant Tunnocks Teacakes?
This week I was privileged to get a behind the scenes insight into the work of this amazing company. From props to special effect make up, to bombs, fire walls and exploding cars. Here is the first photo blog of the company’s prop work. Next up special effects makeup then the more explosive stuff!

 
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