Category Archives: INTERVIEWS

INTERVIEW: Rona Munro on adapting Frankenstein for the stage.

ACCLAIMED SCOTTISH PLAYWRIGHT RONA MUNRO TALKS ABOUT ADAPTING MARY SHELLEY’S FRANKENSTEIN FOR THE STAGE

Frankenstein will be touring the UK this year.

What can audiences expect from your version of Frankenstein?

They’ll be seeing a theatrical version of the book as Mary Shelley intended it to affect an audience. She was only 18 when she wrote it and she wasn’t trying to corner a market or to write a well-behaved novel of her time. She was actually trying to shake things up a bit. Both her and the people she hung out with were social revolutionaries so there’s a lot of anger in it and there’s also a desire to change the world in the way we rely on the young to bring that fire to things. There’s a lot of that in Frankenstein and I hope it comes over in the play. Also, she was kind of breaking the model because no-one had ever written a book quite like this before so I hope the originality of it also comes over.

How does Shelley herself feature in the play?

She’s a character in it. If I said she was a narrator it would give the impression that it’s about storytelling but it’s a much more active role than that. The book is all her voice, when you think about it. I’ve just put that voice on stage with her as a character so you see the story but you also see some of the emotional journey she went through to create it.

What was the inspiration behind that idea?

Every version I’ve seen of Frankenstein becomes about Victor Frankenstein and the Creature so you have these two very iconic male protagonists. It’s been done as a metaphor for fathers and sons, everyone talks about Prometheus and the patriarchal God, Adam the man… The thing that seems to get completely obliterated is that this came from the mind of an 18-year-old woman and a very intelligent and talented one at that. She went on to be a successful writer and she was probably responsible for preserving and even framing and amending the whole body of her husband Shelley’s work so that we’ve got that too. She’s become completely invisible in the narrative of Frankenstein and even when she is credited with its creation it’s almost as if she did it organically or spontaneously, as if she didn’t know what she was doing and it was just a mad dream. As a writer, when you look at the book you go ‘That is a very solid piece of storytelling by someone who is really skilled in structuring the narrative and putting it all together’. That’s not to say it isn’t without its faults but then nothing is and when you think it was written by someone who was 18 it’s extraordinary. I just wanted to make that visible because I don’t think it usually is.

Do you feel as a female writer, like Mary Shelley herself, that you bring a different take to the material?

I think it’s probably easier for me to imagine what it’s like to be an 18-year-old woman trying to write your first novel. I didn’t do it as well as Mary Shelley when I attempted things like that and back when I started out things were considerably easier for women writers than they were for her. But I certainly think it helps to have that memory of attempting similar things myself – and also being that little bit older and remembering when things were tougher for women writers, even if they weren’t as tough as they were for Mary.

You’ve described the story as “the dark and rebellious roar of its adolescent author”. Can you elaborate on that?

She came from a group of people who were consciously thinking about how they could change the world in revolutionary ways and challenge the status quo. It was partly out of the Romantic movement, which was a reaction to industrialisation and capitalism, and partly out of her own experience. She was the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft, who is pretty well regarded as being the first conscious feminist in as much as she articulated a lot of what has become contemporary feminism. She wrote a book called A Vindication Of The Rights Of Woman and she was an active participant in the French Revolution, up until the point where that took a turn into violence and then she moved away from that. And Shelley’s father was the political philosopher William Godwin so it was all about ‘Just because the rest of the world does things one way it doesn’t mean that we should do that too’ and constantly challenging the way society was developing. With that behind her and the group of people she was hanging out with, I think she wanted to articulate some of that anger and frustration that the world was unfair – and particularly unfair to the poor and those who didn’t have access to political power or wealth. What’s really interesting when you read the book is that some of it seems so contemporary and those are the bits that people tend to ignore because they don’t fit with the kind of Hammer Horror view of it as just being a horror story about creating this monster. The other sections of the book don’t get a lot of attention but she’s explicitly saying ‘If you ignore the weak and the oppressed and you marginalise them then they will rise up’. There’s a sense in which the monster represents that narrative.

In researching the piece, were there things you were surprised or intrigued to learn?

The thing that surprised me the most – and I’m really ashamed I didn’t know this – is that she lived into her 50s and wrote other novels which we don’t know about, although they sold at the time, and that she sustained her whole family. She lost three children and ended up being a single mother with one child to support. She also supported various dependent relatives and friends and she did so through her writing. She was a professional woman in the early 19th century who made a living out of writing and, as I say, she is also probably the reason that we have a large number of Shelley’s poems because when he died young she inherited the estate. A lot of his poems were just kind of scribbles and doodles so she pulled them together and gave them shape and form. I had this vision of a kind of frightened Goth young woman in a white dress in a thunderstorm at Lake Geneva having hysterical dreams because that’s the way it had always been presented to me. Then when you look into it you go: ‘Blooming heck, this is someone who quite early on went “I’ve got make a living out of this and a good living out of it because I have no other means of making money”.’ She’d been such a social revolutionary because her and Shelley had chosen to live outside society. She wasn’t getting any money from his family and her own family had kind of cast her off when she ran away. She really needed to make a go of it as a writer and for me, knowing how hard that was in the 20th and 21st centuries, to do it back then was quite remarkable. That was something I didn’t know about her and it was quite chastening and also empowering to find that out.

Frankenstein aside, do you think she was underrated as a writer during her lifetime?

I think she was always conscious that people wanted to know about Shelley and Byron and this book. It was her fame and it remained her fame. I think she was quite philosophical about that and used it when she needed to. One of the things I’d like to do now is have a look at some of the other novels she wrote. I suspect they’re not brilliant because otherwise we’d probably know about them but I bet they’re better than we think they are.

Why do you think theatregoers enjoy a good scare?

I think we enjoy it up to a point and where that is depends on the individual – and I’ve got a very low threshold for horror. But why do we like it? I think it’s because life is terrifying, the imminent inevitability of death is terrifying and the fact we have no control over the bulk of what happens to us is terrifying too. If was can find a way of expressing that terror which is manageable and controlled so we can have the sense of looking at it without it being just so gut-wrenchingly ghastly that we can’t bear it, then that is quite cathartic. That’s what I think horror offers people.

The best horror stories tap into universal fears. What are the fears that Frankenstein stirs up?

It’s that thing of not being in control of your own fate. I think not being able to escape the consequences of your own actions is also a biggie. That’s where the horror of the monster comes from because basically at a certain point Frankenstein doesn’t take responsibility for his actions and from that point on there’s no escape. It’s about relentless pursuit and you can have the illusion of escape but it always comes back to you. That’s a trope of so many horror films; just when you think it’s all over the hand bursts out of the ground or the axe comes through the door.

Can you tease anything about how Frankenstein’s monster will be depicted?

What I can tell you is that it won’t be what people expect. After James Whale did the film in the 1930s with Boris Karloff the monster became this kind of sewn-together creature with bolts in his neck. But if you read the description in the book there’s no mention of him being sewn together and there’s no description for how Frankenstein assembles the monster. It suggests something much more chemical, almost as if he was boiling corpses down and reassembling the body matter. It’s really not clear and equally there’s no lightning to animate the monster. Again it suggests a much more chemical process with the implication that maybe electricity was used. Our monster is not going to be sewn together from bits of people, he’s not going to have a bolt in his neck and he’s not going to be animated through lightning. He’ll look utterly terrifying but he won’t look like you expect.

Can you recall when you first encountered the Frankenstein story and the effect it had on you?

I read it when I was quite young and I probably saw the films when I was a teenager. The thing that vividly sticks with me, though, is that my son wasn’t a big reader – which you can imagine being a shock to me as someone who deals in words. I assumed he was going to be a reader but he’s an artist actually. When I was a kid I kept giving him book after book and he’d get into some of them, but he didn’t really want to have his head in a book. Then one day he came home from school and said ‘We’ve got this set text and it’s amazing’. It was Frankenstein and he pretty much read it over three days. You look at how difficult that text is. It’s not easy language and he was about 13 or 14 at the time but he gobbled it up. That really stuck with me – that there’s something in that story, probably because Mary was a teenager herself when she wrote it, that just grabs people of that age. I hope that’s something this production can do as well.

What else do you hope audiences will take away from seeing the play when they leave the theatre?

I hope they’ll realise that Mary Shelley wrote it and that they’ll know a bit more about the person she was. I hope they’ll be satisfyingly terrified. And I hope people who have loved the story in other incarnations will think this is a great version to add to that canon.

TOUR DATES 2019

 

5 – 21 September (performances vary)                                                 Box Office: 01738 621031

Perth Theatre, Perth                                                                                Website: horsecross.co.uk

 

24 – 28 September                                                                                   Box Office: 01227 787787

Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury                                                                 Website: marlowetheatre.com

 

– 12 October                                                                                            Box Office: 024 7655 3055

Belgrade Theatre, Coventry                                                                    Website: belgrade.co.uk

 

14 – 19 October                                                                                         Box Office: 0844 871 7650

Brighton Theatre Royal, Brighton                                                           Website: atgtickets.com

 

28 October – 2 November                                                                       Box Office: 029 2087 8889

New Theatre, Cardiff                                                                               Website: newtheatrecardiff.co.uk

 

4 – 9 November                                                                                        Box Office: 01483 440 000

Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford                                                         Website: yvonne-arnaud.co.uk

 

11 – 16 November                                                                                    Box Office: 0151 709 4776

Liverpool Playhouse, Liverpool                                                               Website: everymanplayhouse.com

 

25 – 30 November                                                                                     Box Office: 0844 871 7647

Theatre Royal Glasgow, Glasgow                                                            Website: atgtickets.com

INTERVIEW: Duncan James on stepping into Frank-N-Furter’s platforms this month in Glasgow

What made you say yes to playing Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Show?

It’s been a dream role of mine for a long time. I heard they were doing The Rocky Horror Show and I think Frank-N-Furter is one of the best roles you can play in musical theatre. It’s such an iconic role and the show has such a loyal following. It’s such a wonderfully written show and I thought ‘Wouldn’t it be great to play Frank?’ I rang my agent and said: ‘I hear they’re casting The Rocky Horror Show can you get me an audition?’ He did and so I went in, did the audition and got a recall. When I went back, I said to myself ‘I’m gonna get this’ and I did. I was really lucky because I fought off lots of competition from other well-known actors who were up for the part. I was like ‘No, no, no, this is my part!’ so when I got it, I was really proud of myself.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show
©The Other Richard

What are most enjoying about playing Frank?

Everything! And of course, he has one of the best entrances in musical theatre. The reaction you get from his opening number Sweet Transvestite is amazing because it’s such a great song and you come out in a cloak, then take the cloak off to reveal his really out-there outfit. It’s a great moment.

Can you relate to him in any way?

For me it’s more about having fun rather than relatability. The part of Frank-N-Furter is so twisted and so dark and that’s such fun to play. I mean, he’s essentially a psychopathic doctor who wants to create a man for his own pleasure and he’ll kill whoever gets in his way. Coming from Hollyoaks where I got to play a serial killer I thought it’d be great to then go and play Frank – to explore that dark, twisted mind again of someone who is living on the edge, someone who isn’t afraid to do what he has to do to get what he wants. That kind of character is really fun to play.

Credit : Johan Persson

Presumably with this role you’re very comfortable in heels?

I am, yes, and I love getting dressed up every night, putting on the corset, the fishnets and heels. It’s such an empowering moment because when I walk out on that stage, I feel huge compared to the other cast members. I feel like I’m towering above everybody and instantly I get that sense of command that Frank has. [Laughs] And of course I’m not shy so I love strutting round. I’m really embracing it. Also, I have a bit of a fascination with drag queens and drag artists. I’ve become a huge fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race. It’s like my number one guilty pleasure. I cannot miss an episode of any of RuPaul’s stuff.

Do you do much ad-libbing in response to the audience shout-outs?

There’s none of that from me. The only person who’s allowed to do that is The Narrator. They are the only ones who get to heckle back. I can do an eyebrow raise or a little smirk because, apart from The Narrator, Frank is the only one who’s allowed to acknowledge the audience.

What sort of shout-outs have you had so far?

There’s a lot of rude stuff and I got to do a scene in bed with Ben Adams from A1 when he was in the show. So it’s two boyband members in a bed, which is quite funny and prompts quite a few amusing shout-outs.

Why do you think The Rocky Horror Show has endured?

I think it’s down to the genius of Richard O’Brien. He created The Rocky Horror Show back in the 70s when it was really taboo to talk about certain subjects and having a man dressed up as a transvestite was unheard of. It was like ‘What on earth is this Tim Curry guy doing?’ It was banned in some countries because they thought it was completely wrong and it had a tough start because a lot of people didn’t know how to take it. A lot of people found it in bad taste but that was a sign of the times, of course. As attitudes towards sexuality, sex and transgender issues have changed we’ve become a lot more open-minded and liberal, haven’t we? It’s fantastic that we now embrace shows like The Rocky Horror Show. It’s great that this show in particular has stood the test of time. It seems to be getting bigger and bigger, with more and more people getting dressed up to come see it as well as knowing the story and shout-outs. The show gains more and more fans every time it goes out on tour.

When it comes to musical theatre, what have been your favourite roles?

I’m really lucky that I’ve gotten to do so many great shows. I loved playing Billy Flynn in Chicago. That’s a great role and I was lucky enough to play him again in the West End revival last year. I got to work with Alexandra Burke, who I adore, and we had great chemistry together. I loved playing Tick in Priscilla because it’s one of the most incredible, most liberating roles. Me having a child and being a gay man, I really related to the character. And The Rocky Horror Show is really good fun. It’s one of those shows where you get on stage every night and just have a really good time. It doesn’t feel like having to go to work and the audiences love it. The music is great, Frank’s words are so delicious and the way the story is told is just brilliant. I’m living my best life right now.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show
©The Other Richard

Do you have any plans to work with Blue again?

Definitely. As long as people want to come see us there’ll always be Blue. We’re very lucky that we get to travel all over the world. We get to play sold-out arenas wherever we go and we get to have these amazing trips away. We were in Bahrain recently then we went to Singapore and Malaysia, which was wonderful – to be able to travel to these countries with my friends and get up on stage and sing songs that everybody knows.

When it comes to theatre, do you have any pre- or post-show rituals?

This show consumes quite a lot of preparation with the make-up, the wig and everything. I have my little routine of doing my make-up, getting the wig put on, getting into the costume and then I’m on stage. There’s not a lot of time to think or prepare. After a show I take it all off then spend up to an hour at the stage door signing stuff and having pictures with everybody. There are always so many people at the stage door, which is lovely and I always want to make sure to give time to everybody. By the time I get home after that it’s like 11.30pm and I’m knackered.

What’s the one thing you couldn’t be on tour without?

My pillow goes everywhere with me. I cannot sleep in a hotel room without it because I can’t stand those horrible synthetic pillows you usually get. I have a proper old-school, feathered, heavy pillow which goes with me everywhere.

You’re bringing the show to the King’s Theatre, Glasgow. Does it have any significance for you?

Me and the Blue boys performed in Glasgow when we were on tour with Wet Wet Wet and we were the first act to ever play in their brand-new arena, which was great. The audiences were great too. I do find that the further north you go the rowdier they get.

The Rocky Horror show is coming to the Kings Theatre August 12 – August 17 2019 starring Duncan James (Blue) and Joanne Clifton (Strictly Come Dancing).

INTERVIEW: Karen Gibson, the conductor/musical director of The Kingdom Choir who found global fame at Royal Wedding last year

Global audience of two billion watched The Kingdom Choir perform Stand By Me at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. 25 years after she founded the choir, Karen and her singers are preparing for their first UK tour. The tour will visit 18 towns and cities, with the choir sharing the experience with young choirs in each destination. Karen answers some question ahead of their appearance in Glasgow on the 22nd of May.

Twelve months ago, Karen Gibson was travelling around London giving workshops in gospel music, when she received a phone call which was to change her life – and the lives of her closest friends, the members of The Kingdom Choir.

And in May, as HRH Prince Harry and the Duchess Of Sussex prepare to celebrate their first wedding anniversary – while adjusting to life as first-time parents – Karen and the choir will be embarking on their debut tour.

The Kingdom Choir’s stunning version of Stand By Me was a standout moment during the Royal wedding. The performance has been an internet sensation with more than 10 million views on YouTube.

A former IT worker and music teacher, Karen Gibson formed the choir 25 years ago, drawing together singers from in and around London, from various Christian traditions. For their first two years together, the choir didn’t even have a name – it was only an invite to appear on the BBC’s Songs Of Praise which saw Karen decide on The Kingdom Choir. Karen has worked around the world as a gospel choir conductor, travelling as far a-field as Japan, Nigeria and the USA.

2018 was a whirlwind year for the choir, with TV performances on shows such as Good Morning Britain and alongside Madness for the BBC1 New Year’s Eve concert, releasing their debut album Stand By Me after signing to Sony, and closing the Invictus Games in Sydney.

Now they’re preparing to take their musical message of ‘love, hope and inspiration’ on the road. We spoke to Karen Gibson about how life has changed and what’s next for the choir.



Looking back, to this time last year – can you believe everything that’s happened?

This time last year, I had absolutely no clue what was going to come. I was living my ordinary life; giving gospel workshops, teaching in schools, travelling to do those things. I was jumping on public transport, missing busses and trains, all just going about my life.

There were some lovely things going on – a few of us had just filmed with Call The Midwife, which had been a lot of fun… Little did they know what was going to then happen to the singers they booked.

It has been all change, and not without challenges, but it’s been a brilliant, wonderful blessing of a time.

So how did it all start……..

I had been told I would get a phone call, that it would be something big, but I had no clue at all what it was about. The person who initially told me said ‘I can’t tell you what it is, but it’s going to be big’…

That call didn’t come for a few days, and I’d put it out of my head. I was on a number 87 bus and a very posh voice came through on a call and said: “We would like to invite you to sing at the Royal Wedding”. I was so shocked I just said: “You’re joking.” They said absolutely nothing, so I knew it wasn’t a joke at all.

It was so exciting to call all the choir members, even though I wasn’t allowed to say anything. I just had to make sure they were available on that certain date, and that maybe the date might ring a bell with them. One gentleman said he wasn’t available, and yes, I’m pretty sure he kicked himself when it emerged what was happening.

Has the Royal Wedding experience changed the way The Kingdom Choir works?

Oh, yes, it definitely has. When we went into the studio [to record the album] I realised we couldn’t do what we were used to doing; presenting gospel in that very full-on, in-your-face way. God showed me that you can bless people without being in your face, and that stripping it back can be very meaningful – it must be, people are still talking about that performance all these months on.

I’ve realised we can reach more people by also take a different approach to our music. The couple’s [The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s] version of Stand By Me was the one which caused our website to crash, for our Instagram following to go from 700 to 35,000 in one weekend. That taught me something; maybe it’s not always about doing what you do in the way you do it. In faith terms, that’s a huge lesson.

How did you bring together the choir’s original approach with the new outlook to create the album?

We chose songs we had previously performed, like Something Inside So Strong, a self-penned song from one of the members Chases, Amazing Grace and Hark The Herald Angels Sing. But then we also looked to songs we like, not necessarily from the Pentecostal realm, but songs we found inspiring and that carried a positive message.

Golden, has the lyric “Living My Life Like It’s Golden”; I love that. And then something like To Make You Feel My Love, we turned it from being about a relationship love to a faith love.

Now you’re getting ready for a UK-wide tour. How is that going and what can people expect from the tour?

It’s all going very well and we are starting to put the show together. It’s going to feature songs from the album, and of course we’ve got to do Stand By Me. But it’s all very exciting.

You’re going to get a bit more of The Kingdom Choir that people have heard or seen on the TV or radio, but in a more raw state – freedom, and love, hope and inspiration, as the album says. We’re really looking forward to making the connection with people – to see the people who’ve been listening to us, and to introducing gospel to people who maybe hadn’t experienced it before. Our music is powerful, moving and inspiring, people come in with one mindset and leave with another.

The Kingdom Choir has selected local youth and children’s choirs to join them in each town or city they’re visiting on the tour. Are you looking forward to working with them?

The choirs we’ve chosen really are very, very good, and it’s lovely to know there are so many singing communities out there.

Singing is so good for our children – well, for everyone. From personal experience, I know what it can do for a person; it’s a skill for life, it builds confidence and it’s brilliant for them.

I’m very much looking forward to connecting with the children and I hope we will impact on them in some way, through the power of music. It’s going to be really special and I love the idea of us spreading that joy to these groups. A lot of the choir’s members have worked in schools, so we have that connection with young people – some of the choir’s members are people I taught in schools or worked with in youth choirs, so it goes back a long way.

A year on from where it all began, the tour will coincide with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s first wedding anniversary, what happens next for The Kingdom Choir?

We just don’t know how it’s going to pan out – who could have predicted this last year? We are praying for longevity, we just want to impact the world for good. The album strap line is ‘Love Hope and Inspiration’, and I was thinking recently ‘hope’ is in pretty short supply right now, I feel the world is hungry for hope and good news – so we want to bring more of that about; that’s the long vision.

Tickets for the tour are on sale now from www.ticketmaster.co.uk and www.cuffeandtaylor.com

KINGDOM CHOIR UK TOUR 2019 – FULL DATES

APR

Tue 30th SHEFFIELD, CITY HALL

MAY

Thu 2nd SOUTHEND, CLIFFS PAVILION

Sat 4th LEICESTER, DE MONTFORT HALL

Sun 5th NOTTINGHAM, ROYAL CONCERT HALL

Tue 7th MANCHESTER, BRIDGEWATER HALL

Wed 8th YORK, BARBICAN

Thu 9th GATESHEAD, SAGE

Fri 10th BIRMINGHAM, SYMPHONY HALL

Sun 12th IPSWICH, REGENT THEATRE

Mon 13th CAMBRIDGE, CORN EXCHANGE

Thu 16th BATH, THE FORUM

Sun 19th LONDON, ROYAL ALBERT HALL

Tue 21st LIVERPOOL, PHILHARMONIC HALL

Wed 22nd GLASGOW, THEATRE ROYAL

Thu 23rd EDINBURGH, USHER HALL

Mon 27th CANTERBURY, THE MARLOWE THEATRE

Tue 28th BOURNEMOUTH, PAVILION THEATRE

Thu 30th CARDIFF, ST DAVID’S HALL

 

INTERVIEW: Kirsty Eila McIntyre on new show The Arrival

Kirsty Eila McIntyre most recently performed with Tortoise in a Nutshell/Jim Harbourne in their award nominated production of The Myth of the Singular Moment, and in Italy with Charioteer Theatre in their productioon of A Bench on The Road. Her film/TV/Video credits include: It’s Complicated, Benchmark 6 (Short Version), Sacred Birth, Carol of The Bells. Theatre credits include: Glory On Earth and Beauty and the Beast (Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh), InElsWhEre (Martyn Dempsey/TamFest), Scribble (Andy Edwards/Amy McKenzie), The Bruce in Ireland, Miss Julie, and Something Resembling Love (Black Dingo), I Promise I Shall Not Play Billiards (Tightlaced Theatre), Words, Words, Words (Traverse Theatre), The Elephant Man and Frankenstein (Canny Creatures).

Kirsty talks to Glasgow Theatre Blog about her latest role in The Arrival.

Tell us a little bit about the play.

The Arrival is based on the graphic novel by Shaun Tan and tells the story of a man who has to leave his family to seek work in a new land.  It’s about his experiences of adapting to a new place, and how everything can seem strange and intimidating at first.

And your role…?

I have several roles including the daughter, musician, and I’m one of the puppeteers of Diggy.

The play uses different types of languages can you tell us more about that?  

The play mainly tells the story using visual language, but there are some sections that use both English and BSL. We’ve been very conscious not to give one language precedence over the other or that one is translating for the other, they both are totally equal.

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’ve loved the theatre and storytelling since I was a child and was always creating wee puppet shows and performances. I have really vivid memories of being taken to promenade shows in gardens when I was young, and to the theatre, and it always seemed really magical, and a lot of fun. I then did some Summer Schools with SYT before doing an HNC in Acting at Telford. Then I worked as a professional actor for a couple of years before going to East 15 Acting School for 3 years.

Any advice for aspiring performers?

Take any opportunity to learn. Watch lots of theatre, film, TV, listen to audio dramas, anything that’s accessible to you, find out what you like and why. Have hobbies and take an interest in the world around you. I was lucky enough to have viola lessons at school, and then piano, then I bought a flute a few years ago and have used these instruments in several shows, as well as being taught new ones (I play the melodica in The Arrival). I’m always keen to learn a new skill, you never know what can give you inspiration and come in useful.

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

The play is visually very beautiful with lots of interesting props and characters. Its themes are universal as we’ve all experienced being new somewhere, whether it’s a new country, city, school or workplace. We’ll be touring around Scotland, starting in Glasgow then heading to Dundee, Inverness, Carlops and Livingston.

Kirsty is performing in Solar Bear Theatre Company’s The Arrival, coming to Eastwood Park Theatre this Friday 28 September at 7.30pm. Book tickets: https://www.eastwoodparktheatre.co.uk/article/9661/The-Arrival

 

 

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.

INTERVIEW: Richard Shelton on Sinatra And Me, coming to Eastwood Park

Following his ‘Best Actor in a Leading Role’ West End nominated performance as Frank Sinatra in RAT PACK and his 5-star, sell-out run at the Edinburgh Festival for 2 years running, Richard Shelton returns to the UK with his hit LA show that looks behind the iconic blue eyes of Frank Sinatra whilst still serving up his timeless hits. Richard kindly spared us some time in his busy schedule to chat about his hit show.

What we can expect from the show? 

It’s a show about hope – about how short life is and how important it is to try for your dreams, whatever they may be. I was 50 when I plucked up the courage to go pack my knapsack of dreams and move to Los Angeles. The show looks at what inspired me and how it links my life with Frank Sinatra and the incredible synchronicity that links our lives. I was nominated ‘Best Actor in a Leading Role’ for portraying Frank Sinatra in the hard hitting drama ‘Rat Pack Confidential’ in London’s West End and my interest in him comes from an actors perspective – what make him tick, how his mercurial personality made him the herculean icon he was. And of course the wonderful music. During the show, I go deep behind Sinatra’s blue eyes and evoke what is might have been like to spend an hour with him. I also explain how Sinatra’s tuxedo literally walked into my life – https://vimeo.com/155748882 and how I was one of the last people inside his last home before it was demolished by fluke.

It spills into a new drama I’m bringing to this year’s Edinburgh Festival, ‘Sinatra: RAW’ which imagines Frank Sinatra at his last intimate gig in Palm Springs before his retirement. The air is electric and people jostle for position. He drinks ‘One For My Baby’ too many and starts to reminisce. But things take an unexpected turn. This is the 2am Sinatra you dream of meeting: Dangerous. Unpredictable. Startling. Brilliant. He addresses his accusers on subjects ranging from his alleged Mafia connections, his womanising, to his famed hatred of the press. And in-between, he sings in that smoky midnight voice on subjects from lost love to getting even! Songs include ‘One For My Baby’, ‘My Way’, ‘I’m a Fool to Want You’, ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’ and a haunting acapella version of ‘My Foolish Heart’ which he sang to Ava Gardner from his hotel balcony at night in her bungalow below – true story!

What songs get the biggest reaction? 

‘Angel Eyes’ – I evoke Sinatra’s classic performance when he took on the persona of a drunk – it’s quite heart-breaking and very moving. And ‘That’s Life’ – it’s an anthem of being knocked back and picking yourself up again. Everyone can identify with it.

What’s coming up next year? Where else are you touring?

Right after the festival I have a show with the 72-piece Doha Philharmonic Orchestra in Qatar. In Spring 2019, I’m going on a 2 months tour to South Africa and New Zealand.

Why do you think Sinatra’s music still has such an enduring appeal?

Frank Sinatra was arguably the worlds best story teller through a song. When he sang of sadness he’d take you right there into the wee small hours with him. Or when he sang about ‘Flying to the Moon’ you soared up there too. He had an intuitive understanding of the lyrics which for him, came first, and through the words, he told a story. He also sang with attitude – you got the impression he couldn’t give a damn if you liked him or not which made him all the more appealing. And having one of the most beautiful voices ever known also helps.

How long has it taken for you to perfect your portrayal of Frank Sinatra?

About 17 years. I’m still learning.

Tell us what we can expect from the show?

Story telling, music and little known facts about Sinatra. I also perform songs from my  new album ‘Lost and Found’ which was recorded at Capitol Studios in LA alongside Sinatra’s band mates and in his studio using his microphone. The album comprises original big band arrangements including ‘An Englishman in Love in LA’ and ‘Sinatra and Me’ and jazz inspired arrangements of pop classics including, ‘It’s Not Unusual’ and ‘Oh, What a Night (Dec ’63)’’ which I perform as a haunting ballad. Sounds crazy, but it really works!

Do you find audiences differ as you travel around the country?

Audiences do differ but the one thing they have in common is a love of Sinatra and the music of that era. It’s timeless.

You can catch Richard at the Fringe in SINATRA:RAW details here: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/sinatra-raw

and at Eastwood Park in Sinatra and Me details/tickets here: https://www.eastwoodparktheatre.co.uk/article/9588/Sinatra-and-Me

 

INTERVIEW: Sara Pascoe talks about her new show LadsLadsLads

Award-winning comedian Sara Pascoe talks to Glasgow Theatre Blog about her smash hit Edinburgh Fringe and sell-out West End show, LadsLadsLads.

• What is your show LadsLadsLads about? Why is it described as a ‘thinking person’s stag-do?

It’s sometimes hard to summarise what a show is about- but I wanted to give people the sense that it is fun and celebratory- but rather than about being about to get married- the exact opposite. Having fun, trying new things in a way of being braver and more self-reliant. Some of my shows in the past have had serious aspects, theories and research and this one is lighter. It’s like a party, except only I get to talk and you have to sit there watching me.

• Are you excited or daunted by going back on tour?

I love going on tour. I love our nation, I love rainy days up north and cold evenings by the seaside. It’s a luxury to get to travel for ones job and it’s still a novelty for me. Ask me again in twenty years!

• You’re touring from September to end of November. Do you see the show developing throughout the tour?

As my comedy is personal there are always updates, this show develops with recent escapades – my friends can persuade me to do anything by saying “you’ll get 5 minutes out of it”. That’s who I was recently tricked into watching a West Ham football match and seeing the film IT. They were both equally scary and I got exactly zero minutes out of them.

• Tell us about your new book Sex Power Money out next spring.

It’s about porn and sex work from a historical and evolutionary perspective. I am taking biology and the plasticity of human sexuality into account, and also laying out the whole spectrum of arguments in the debate about these aspects of our society. I’m also trying to explore power dynamics in sexual exchanges which are not as clearly defined as paying for sex- things like men paying for dinner, the abuse by powerful, rich men such as Weinstein and Trump. But with jokes as with my last book, Animal. Talking about serious, important stuff- but keeping it accessible and stimulating rather than hectoring.

• Did the experience of writing a book change the way you approach comedy?

Writing a book has changed my stand up, I think I’m funnier now because I can spend more time with ideas for the books, after a day’s writing doing a gig is a release. I only want to be silly, and it doesn’t feel as selfish if that makes sense? Comedy feels like a child’s job, you can’t believe you’re getting paid to do it. But there are huge things going on in the world and sometimes you feel a responsibility- because you’ve a mic in your hand. But now my responsible side who cares about the state of the world can go into book writing and stand up can be a distraction from that.

• Tell us about your recent Radio 4 series Modern Monkey where you explore our modern social world, did you enjoy the research involved?

Yes. I wish it had been more scientific and I could’ve done more research- but I kept being reminded it was supposed to be a comedy show and I had to write jokes about things. We recorded the show at several museums and I was so interested to visit and learn- especially the Foundling Museum- something I knew nothing about. Such a tragic thing- mothers giving away their children because they cannot afford to support them.

• Do you think the world of comedy has changed much since you started?

I think audiences are changing and that directly influences the acts. Comedy used to be a crueller place, and while there is still lots of that kind of stuff (and lots of people who love it) there is a lot more diversity now. And I hope that continues, live comedy is flourishing within an economic downturn and that is because the people making jokes are from a much wider spectrum. Their experiences are fresh and exciting and audiences want that. It’s not the individual cis, white, able bodied man’s fault that historically, comedy clubs were so reliant on stereotype and tropes, but only one type of person’s reality was being reflected and I’m glad that’s improving.

• Do you have a career highlight? Is there a moment you stopped and thought, wow, this is just incredible?

To write books is a massive privilege. Whenever I do a book signing, that for me is a “pinch myself” moment. Also selling out a West End run- those theatres are an absolute joy to play and it felt like a victory lap. I felt so much love for every person in the audience and wanted to kiss and hug everyone. I am a failed actor, didn’t get into drama school all of that malarkey. So getting to be in the West End was so special to me, a validation.

• What’s next for you following the tour?

I’d like to go do some stand up in America, and hopefully do some writing for TV. And another play. And I want to get a dog. And then more adventures so I can write another show

Sara Pascoe is touring LadsLadsLads Sunday 16th September – Wednesday 28th November 2018
http://www.sarapascoe.com

INTERVIEW: Scottish star Jayne McKenna talks The Band and coming home to Glasgow

Jayne McKenna trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and has an enviable CV in theatre, TV, radio and film. She returns home to Glasgow to star in the much-anticipated The Band, when it come to The King’s in Glasgow from 26 June to 7 July 2018. I had a chance to catch up with Jayne before she arrives in town.

How does it feel coming home to Glasgow with such a hugely anticipated show?

Thrilling. I trained there so for me it’s full circle. And I’ve never played The Kings so that’s another treat.

Tell us a bit about your role in The Band.

It’s about a group of girls you meet when they’re young and then again as women, and about the changes and surprises life springs, so, while the younger me thinks her life is going to be all books and study, I turn out quite differently, but no spoilers.

What can the audience expect from the show?

Bring tissues, it gets emotional – laughing one minute and crying the next. And our musicians are stunning, not to mention the ‘boyband’ Five to Five – brilliant all-rounders a joy to work with.

Do you have any favourite moments, scenes or songs from the show that we should look out for?

The song ‘Get Ready For It’. I hadn’t heard it before and it’s become favourite. Incredibly uplifting.

The show has had an enviable amount of publicity, the main male roles being cast on the show Let It Shine, how have audiences received the production as it’s toured the country.

Tremendously. Every night on their feet. Apparently 62% of our audience have never been to the theatre before, and some have now seen it 14 times. People identify with the characters – they tell us at stage door all the time: “Thanks for being me up there”.

What’s life like on the road with a show like The Band?

Tough, especially as a mum. I’m very lucky I have my husband. FaceTiming home is a vital part of my day.

You have an impressive (and if I may say heavy weight) theatrical CV, what have been your favourite roles so far?

The show where I met my husband, of course. Playing Goneril in King Lear with Nicol Williamson is up there. We had an incredible connection as fellow Scots. I stayed in touch with him and even had the honour of singing jazz with his band.

Is there any Play/Musical you’d love to be in?

More Shakespeare would be nice: I’ve tuned into him more as I’ve got older. Not just the language, the thoughts, and being able to express things that in life only occur to us (if they do) in hindsight when the moment has passed! But more singing too: this is my first musical and I’m loving rocking it out!

Tell us a bit more about your career path from Glasgow to touring the country singing the songs of Take That to thousands of adoring fans.

I moved to London after a stint at The Lyceum with the late greats Kenny Ireland and Gerard Murphy and continued mainly in theatre. For example, Macbeth in the West End, the Peter Hall Company, National Theatre, but, TV and radio as well and even a Bollywood film in India. Now I live in Brighton with my family.

Finally, why should we come along to see the show?

Because it might change your life. The characters are real. Their journeys are your journeys and what they survive you can survive. It’s about friendship and looking forward. Plus it’s fabulously well written and produced and the music will ‘Take you back’… and the acting’s not bad either!

Catch Jayne in The Band at the King’s Theatre from 26 June to 7 July 2018

Images: Matt Crockett

INTERVIEW: Jonny Quinn on Snow Patrol’s Return

After seven years out in the pop wilderness, Snow Patrol are set to make triumphant return with their brand-new album, Wildness. Drummer Jonny Quinn talks chaos, the joy of live performance, and reveals just why it’s taken then so darn long.

In life, there are several milestones that swirl up an array of complex and conflicting emotions. Your first day at school, your wedding day, or the birth of your first child, and, if you’re a musician, the release of every single record throughout your career. “It’s a combination of trepidation, excitement and relief,” says Snow Patrol’s drummer Jonny Quinn, of the impending release of Wildness, the band’s seventh studio album.

Adding: “People as what you hope for the record, but the truth is that you just down know. It’s mostly just a relief to be back at it and playing gigs after five-and-a-half years. And so far, everyone seems to be really happy that we’re back.”

You might wonder why artists of such esteem would be feeling any doubts given their triumphant track record. This is the band whose major label debut, Final Straw, was certified five-time platinum in the UK and eventually sold over three million copies worldwide. Whose anthemic hits, Chasing Cars and Run, were the antidote to a generation’s glorious melancholy. Who have successfully held their own for over two decades in industry which has slowly been coming apart at the seams around them.

Inherently humble, it’s not surprising that the Northern Irish rockers haven’t ridden back into the music scene on a gold chariot fuelled by hype and braggadocio, however much of their introspection seems to be down to the sheer amount of time that has passed since Fallen Empires (their last album). Seven years in the music industry is a long time, particularly when those years have been some of the most turbulent for labels and artists alike. However, if there was ever a time the world needed a Snow Patrol album to galvanise and uplift our spirits, it’s now, and fortunately, Wildness is fits the bill perfectly.

Emotionally complex, intelligent and bruisingly honest, the album skimps on none of Lighbody’s soaring melodies. The lead single Don’t Give Up is a straightforward call-to-arms for the lost and weary, Life on Earth is an existential triumph, and the entire record vibrates with an earnest, open rawness. “‘Wildness’ being that the world feels wilder. There feels like there is more chaos than there used to be,” explains Quinn. “A lot of the songs are also about Gary’s own depression and frustration about not being able to write songs and that fear that hits everybody at some point, in a creative sense.”

For lead singer Lightbody, the last few years have been particularly brutal as his ongoing battle with alcohol abuse and depression manifested itself in crippling writers block. Quinn reveals that the band actually were in the studio around two years ago with most of the musical aspects of the album in place, but Lightbody simply couldn’t verbalise his experience. “Maybe he was trying to write songs without having a reason to, and he’s not that kind of writer. So, there was a big gap. But it had to be right; the songs couldn’t be forced,” concludes Quinn.

Certainly, Wildness wouldn’t be the record it is had Lighbody not dug so deep, for that kind of vulnerable grace and candour cannot be faked. In his own words, the 41-year-old frontman says it is the first record he has written where he didn’t just ‘ask a bunch of questions’, adding: “I actually tried to figure out why I was unhappy, why I feel out of place, why I’m afraid.”

Now fully recovered, Lighbody and co. are eager to release the record and crack on with what is arguably the most rewarding part of the process, touring. “That’s what we’ve been doing for 20 years and we’ve all missed that part of it. We like the studio but getting to go out and play all over the world is the most thrilling part,” says Quinn.

“We also put a lot into the live aspect of it, and I want people to walk out of shows feeling like it changed their life a little bit, and they forgot about everything that was bad that day… playing live and having that experience is really special.”

But before the band leave us to traverse the world, there is one burning question that needs to be asked: Are Snow Patrol back for good this time? “Yes,” replies Quinn emphatically. “We won’t have another seven-year break this time.”

SNOW PATROL RETURN WITH THEIR NEW ALBUM WILDNESS ON MAY 25TH VIA POLYDOR RECORDS

INTERVIEW: Kieran Brown, Scottish star of Titanic the Musical

Scottish actor Kieran Brown has an enviable theatrical CV, having appeared in Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies, Les Mis, Wicked and our own Glasgow King’s Theatre pantomime, to name just a few. He’s a member of the hugely successful Barricade Boys and a concert star in his own right. Kieran from Larbert, returns home to Scotland this week to appear in Titanic – The Musical at Glasgow King’s and at Edinburgh Playhouse from June 12th – 16th. I had a chance to catch up with him about life onboard the world’s most famous ship before it sets sail in Glasgow!

Can you tell us a bit about what we can expect in Titanic the Musical?

It is a multiple Tony award winning musical written by American composer Maury Yeston with book by the late Peter Stone. It tells the tale of some of the real life passengers and crew onboard the ill fated ship. It was first produced by Danielle Tarento with direction from Thomas Sutherland and musical staging by Cressida Carre at the Southwark Playhouse in London, before transferring to the Charing Cross Theatre, and then crossing the Atlantic to Canada. This is the first major professional production of the show in the UK. I should state, it has absolutely NOTHING to do with the 1997 James Cameron movie…! It has a stunning score with not a hint of Celine Dion..!
What about your role?

I play First Officer William McMaster Murdoch, who was essentially second in command of the ship, and was in charge at the time it hit the iceberg. He was Scottish, from Dalbeattie. He was treated quite unfairly in the film (which Cameron apologised for), but this is a much more sensitive treatment of his character. He very much blamed himself for the tragedy that unfolded. In actual fact, there were a great number of factors which led inevitably towards the sinking. It’s fascinating to learn throughout the show exactly what went on, but without ever placing judgement on anyone…

What songs or scenes should we particularly look out for?

The opening is really pretty epic..! It’s about 20 minutes long, and doesn’t pause for breath..! To be honest, it is such a stunning score and the sound of our 25 strong ensemble make accompanied by our 6 piece orchestra under direction of musical wizard Mark Aspinall is incredible! The audience are frequently blown away by the wall of sound that washes over them. It’s so humbling to be part of it!

How has the show been received as it’s toured around the country?

Phenomenally. Instant standing ovations practically every show. There’s the odd grumble about people expecting the film onstage, but those who have either informed themselves or allow our beautiful touching story to be told are usually left very affected by it. It’s a very emotional night at the theatre – because it’s not just a film – it’s true – I often wonder if people have forgotten that! We all know the ending of course but the final scene features direct quotes from the survivors – It’s very touching, but ultimately uplifting.

What’s life like on tour/backstage with such a large cast?

It’s been a while since I’ve toured and I actually enjoy it. We have a very mixed company age wise, but we do genuinely all get on great, and organise nights out, day trips to the countryside castle hunting etc. It’s a very supportive company onstage and off, and it’s a real joy to share this experience with them all.

Why should we come along to see the show?

It’s a story we all think we know, especially those who have seen the film (much of which was fiction), so I think it’s important to retell the story with tremendous respect and honour those who died (and survived). It’s not tap dancing and feathers, there are no hydraulic lifts and razzle dazzle spectacle, but there is a poignant layered story, accompanied by a beautiful, beautiful score, told by one of the most talented bunch of actors and musicians I’ve had the honour to work with. I think of all of the jobs I’ve done, this really ranks as one of those I’m most proud of. I love it. And I am particularly proud to be telling this story at the Kings in Glasgow. Last time I was here I was riding a magic carpet as Aladdin! I love the city (I lived and studied here at the RCS) and it feels very much like home. I’m curious to see how Scottish audiences respond to it…

Any roles you’d love to perform/shows you’d like to be in that you haven’t yet?

To be honest I’m keen to do a play – it’s been 7 years since I last did a play (The Woman In Black in Vienna). I love singing and musicals, but I’d love to do something where I don’t have to worry about my singing voice for a while..!

What’s been your favourite role to date?

I think playing the Phantom probably ranks as a major career tick and I was lucky that I managed to get on a lot during my two years at Her Majesty’s. The feeling I had inside when I stepped on to take my bow at the end of my first show was something I can’t really describe..!

What’s next after Titanic?

Who knows! The life of a jobbing actor..! TBH we are all loving this Titanic experience so much we are all hoping it may not be ending mid August in Hamburg! Crossing everything there is another life, whether continuing the tour or sailing into the west end, who knows…!
You can catch Kieran in Titanic – The Musical at Glasgow King’s Theatre from Monday 28 May until Saturday 2 June 2018 – tickets here
Edinburgh Playhouse from Tuesday 12 June until Saturday 16th June 2018 – tickets here.
Titanic photography: Scott Rylander
Kieran Brown headshot in article: Kate Scott
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