Tag Archives: Mull Theatre

WHAT’S ON MARCH: The Electrifying Mr. Johnston at Paisley Arts Centre

The intriguing story about one of Scotland’s unsung heroes is being told in a new play being staged at Paisley Arts Centre.

The one-act play by award-winning Robert Dawson Scott, called The Electrifying Mr Johnston is about prominent Scottish journalist turned socialist politician, Tom Johnston.

The play is a Mull Theatre production and is being staged on Friday, March 8, at 7.30pm.

Tom Johnston was a radical thinker, land reformer, and scourge of the establishment, who began his political career as a town councillor in his hometown of Kirkintilloch.

He was elected to Parliament as part of the Red Clydeside surge of MPs in 1922, alongside giants of socialism including James Maxton. John Wheatley, and Davey Kirkwood.

Appointed Secretary of State for Scotland during the Second World War and frustrated by the migration of Scottish workers to the Midlands and South East of England, Johnston launched numerous initiatives for Scotland.

As late as the 1950s most rural communities in the Highlands were still lit by paraffin lamps. But the North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board, a product of Johnston’s vision and a triumph of engineering, brought electricity to the rural communities of Scotland and changed the Highlands forever.

The play contrasts Johnston’s early radical writings and beliefs with later compromises, as he vies with Highland landowners for access to land for the benefit of the people and the country as a whole.

Following the performance of the Electrifying Mr Johnston there will be Bite-Size, which is a programme of rehearsed readings of new plays and works-in-progress, hosted by director Alasdair McCrone and playwright Peter Arnott with a cast of professional actors.

The readings, followed by feedback and questions and answers offers the audience a chance to be part of and enjoy the fun of the creative process.

To book tickets log on to www.renfrewshireleisure.com/whats-on or call 0300 300 1210.

REVIEW: My Name is Rachel Corrie – Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

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Photo Credit: Tim Morozzo

Writer: Rachel Corrie

Editors: Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner

Director: Ros Philips

Reviewer: Lauren Humphreys

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★½☆

On March 16th 2003, less than two months after her arrival in the Gaza Strip, 23 year old American peace activist and member of the International Solidarity Movement, Rachel Corrie, was killed by an Israeli Defense Force armoured bulldozer whilst trying to prevent the demolition of the home of a Palestinian family she had befriended.

This play, My Name is Rachel Corrie, has been created from the diaries, letters, emails and answer phone messages of Corrie and is intended by its creators, actor Alan Rickman and Guardian editor Katherine Viner, as a vehicle to continue Corrie’s work: raising awareness of the Palestinian experience in the western world.

The piece is presented here in two acts, the first opening on a bedroom strewn with the familiar paraphernalia of teenage life: the works of Camus and Maya Angelou, posters by Klimt and Dali, where we are given an insight into the mercurial mind and passionate personality of this extraordinary young woman. Corrie’s many causes, her search for a life-path to follow and her bravery at such a young age to stand apart from the crowd, clearly set her apart from your average American teen. Her eloquence and commitment to help others quite astonishing in one so young.

The second act transports us to the Gaza Strip where Corrie’s impassioned pleas to spread the word globally about the Palestinian situation manage to achieve greater weight thanks to her vivid eye-witness accounts of the daily brutalities and humiliations endured by the Palestinian people.

Corrie has a distinct voice, eloquent and self-aware well beyond her years.  But it is the skill of Mairi Phillips as Corrie who gives this piece life. It is hard not to marvel at the physical and verbal dexterity with which she delivers this dense, complex and emotionally draining performance.

However powerful the message and strong its central performance, the piece itself is not without fault: the decision to present it as a two act play where previously it has been run straight through, whilst providing a distinct contrast between the two stages of Corrie’s life, only serves to unnecessarily drag the piece out: in Phillips striking portrayal we quickly get the message about exactly what kind of person Corrie is without the constant repetition of ideas and themes. The density of the dialogue, whilst vividly reflecting Corrie’s gift as a writer and showing her insightful, deeply felt commentary on the situation, is at times lost because of its sheer volume and intensity: the relentless machine gun delivery almost feeling like a physical assault by the end.

Much about the situation is omitted here, it offers neither reason nor solution, instead it is an affecting snapshot of a brave, brutally honest, articulate and vibrant young woman’s reaction to a seemingly insurmountable problem she cared deeply about.