Tag Archives: Scottish tour

WHAT’S ON OCTOBER: WOMEN’S EXPERIENCES OF ASBESTOSIS GIVEN SPOTLIGHT IN NEW SHOW TOURING TO SCOTTISH COMMUNITIES

The Citizens Theatre and Stellar Quines have announced the tour of Fibres, a new play by Frances Poet. Touring to venues and community halls throughout Scotland, the production will be presented in Greater Glasgow, Edinburgh, Renfrewshire, Inverclyde and Argyll and Bute.

Written by award-winning playwright Frances Poet, Fibres uses wit and humour to explore the legacy of asbestos in the Clyde shipyards, giving weight to the stories of women and families affected by this crisis. During the twentieth century, Glasgow and the West of Scotland was the centre of asbestos production and consumption and today has the highest global incidence of mesothelioma, a deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Fibres binds together four interconnected stories in a funny and touching tribute to families and individuals affected by this issue.

On what inspired her to write Fibres, Frances Poet commented, “Five years ago, I met a woman at my daughter’s music class who told me that she had lost her parents six months apart. Her father had been a ship’s draftsman and had served a three-day apprenticeship on the ships. His exposure to the asbestos in those three days was enough to end not just his life prematurely but also that of his wife who washed his overalls. I knew about asbestos, as something dangerous from the past. I didn’t know that deaths from asbestos related diseases were still growing each year, that the West Coast of Scotland had, at that moment, the highest incidence in Europe or that some of the people dying were wives and weans who were exposed through their loved ones’ clothing. It broke my heart enough to write a play about it. But because it’s a Glasgow story, I found my characters making me laugh, even in the face of tragedy. Their resilience was irresistible. And suddenly the play I was writing wasn’t a tragedy but a love story with as many laughs as tears. I’m so glad Stellar Quines and the Citizens Theatre are taking the play to audiences across Scotland. I suspect our story will be met with many more stories shared after the show. I want to hear them all.”

A co-production with award-winning Scottish theatre company Stellar Quines, Fibres will be directed by Artistic Director and Chief Executive, Jemima Levick.

Stellar Quines is an award-winning organisation whose vision is to be Scotland’s leading touring theatre company, inspiring excellence in women and girls. Of the co-production, Jemima Levick commented, “I’m so excited to be bringing this brilliant, powerful play to audiences across the west coast of Scotland. Fibres is an incredibly moving and very funny piece that is deeply relevant to individuals and communities affected by the deadly legacy of asbestos. It’s a story that is often only told from the perspective of the men who suffered, ignoring the wider impact on women and children who have also been profoundly affected. Fibres elevates the women’s voice and brings the impact of this tragedy on families sharply into focus. At Stellar Quines, we are dedicated to creating work that nurtures, empowers and celebrates women and girls, through their stories, as artists and audiences, so we are particularly delighted that Fibres is part of the Citizens Women season in partnership with the Citizens Theatre.”

The Citizens Women season is a season committed to putting women actors, directors and stories centre stage. The season is dedicated to showcasing the extraordinary and wide-ranging talent of women theatre-makers.

Of taking Fibres on tour, Dominic Hill, Artistic Director of the Citizens Theatre commented, “It’s a great pleasure to be able to take Fibres, our co-production with Stellar Quines, to a range of performance spaces across Scotland. Whilst our home in the Gorbals undergoes a much-needed redevelopment, taking our work out into communities across Scotland is incredibly important to us. In Fibres, Frances Poet tells a critical and relevant story with compassion and humour. This is a brilliant opportunity to take this play to audiences who have been touched by the asbestos tragedy either directly or indirectly. It is also a funny and moving story that will be delivered by a fantastic, well-known cast.”

The cast includes much loved actor Jonathan Watson who has most recently starred in the BBC Scotland hit Two Doors Down. Born in Glasgow, Watson’s first job after training at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama was as a member of TAG Theatre Company, the outreach arm of the Citizens Theatre which was formed in 1967. Watson has since taken on iconic roles in Naked Video, City Lights, Rab C Nesbitt (BBC) and Only An Excuse (Comedy Unit). He is joined by Maureen Carr known to young audiences for her role in CBBC’s Molly and Mack and to the nation as ‘ugly sister’ Edith in Still Game and baddie Theresa O’Hara in River City. Carr is also co-founder of female comedy troupe, Witsherface.

The cast is completed by Suzanne Magowan (Baby Doll, Citizens Theatre; Hidden Doors, Village Pub Theatre; International Day of the Girl, Stellar Quines and Village Pub Theatre) and Ali Craig (Into That Darkness, Citizens Theatre; Hecuba and Victoria, Dundee Rep; Beautiful Burnout, The Making of Us and Macbeth, National Theatre of Scotland; Hamlet, Rapture Theatre Company).

The project is supported by Clydeside Action on Asbestos, a charity established in 1984 by men who had been diagnosed with an asbestos disease to provide practical advice and support to others affected by this condition. Phyllis Craig MBE, Manager of CAA said: ‘This is an incredibly important story that deserves to be told.  The men and women who have lost their lives to asbestos must be remembered.  Through a light-hearted and warm insight into one families’ experience, the impact that asbestos use has had on communities across Scotland can reach a wide audience.   Whilst people are watching the production, I would like them to remember that thousands of people across the UK continue to be diagnosed with an asbestos related condition each year, because asbestos related disease does not develop until decades after the person was exposed to asbestos.  If the audience can bear this in mind, then those who have died and continue to be diagnosed will not be forgotten.’ 

In addition to writer Frances Poet and Director Jemima Levick, the all-female creative team comprises Jen McGinley, Set and Costume Design (Interference, National Theatre of Scotland; Miss Julie, Perth Theatre at Horsecross Arts); Emma Jones, Lighting Design (The Lover, Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh; Peter Pan, Derby Theatre) and Patricia Panther, Sound Design (The Last Queen of Scotland, Stellar Quines production commissioned and supported by the National Theatre of Scotland and Dundee Rep; Glasgow Girls, presented by Pachamama Productions, originally co-produced by the National Theatre of Scotland, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Citizens Theatre & Richard Jordan Productions).

The tour runs from 17 October to 2 November 2019. Details of all venues and ticket information is available from citz.co.uk

TOUR VENUES AND DATES

Ticket information available from citz.co.uk

Barrowfield Community Centre          Thu 17 Oct, 6pm & Fri 18 Oct, 2pm (previews)

67 Yate Street, Glasgow

G31 4AQ

 

Cove Burgh Hall                                        Sat 19 Oct, 8pm

Shore Road, Cove

G84 0L

 

Paisley Arts Centre                                  Tue 22 Oct, 7.30pm

15 New Street, Paisley

PA1 1EZ

 

The Pearce Institute                                Thu 24 Oct, 7pm

840 – 860 Govan Road

G61 3UU

 

Beacon Arts Centre                                  Fri 25 Oct, 7.30pm

Custom House Quay, Greenock

PA15 1HJ

 

St Francis Community Centre              Sat 26 Oct, 7pm

405 Cumberland Street, Glasgow

G5 0SE

 

Barmulloch Community Centre          Sun 27 Oct, 7pm

46 Wallacewell Quadrant, Glasgow

G21 3PX

 

Traverse Theatre                                      Tue 29 – Wed 30 Oct, 8pm

10 Cambridge Street, Edinburgh

EH1 2ED

 

Barlanark Community Centre              Thu 31 Oct, 7pm

33 Burnmouth Road, Glasgow

G33 4RZ

 

Dunoon Burgh Hall                                  Fri 1 Nov, 7.30pm

195 Argyll Street, Dunoon

PA23 7DD

 

The Whiteinch Centre                             Sat 2 Nov, 7pm

1 Northinch Street, Glasgow

G14 0UG

LISTINGS

Ticket information from citz.co.uk / 0141 429 0022

Cast                                                  Maureen Carr; Ali Craig; Suzanne Magowan; Jonathan Watson

Director                                           Jemima Levick

Writer                                              Frances Poet

Set and costume Designer          Jen McGinley

Lighting Designer                          Emma Jones

Sound Design                                Patricia Panther

“We were two weans playing at wee hooses, him in his first job and me being the good wife doing his washing. Now we’re both paying the price.”

Jack is proud of his work at the Clyde shipyards. His wife, Beanie, who is nursing him through asbestosis, thinks he’s a fool. But the real test of their marriage comes when they discover that the dusty overalls Jack brought home to be washed by Beanie, poisoned her too. This isn’t what she thought Jack meant when he promised “what’s mine is yours”.

Meanwhile their daughter, Lucy, attempts to overcome her grief. Will she be held back by her parents’ experience, or will she have the courage to allow romance to blossom with Pete?

Written by award-winning playwright Frances Poet, Fibres is a big-hearted and laugh out loud play about what it means to entwine our lives with another, in sickness and in health. A story told by four characters who show a very Glaswegian resilience and wit, the play asks can we ever cut the cords that bind us and who will catch us if we do?

With support from Clydeside Action on Asbestos.

 

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