Tuesday, 3 November 2015

A Season of Ancient and Modern Classics at the Citizens This Spring

We couldn't wait any longer, and today we're sharing news of our fantastic Spring 2016 season, which goes on sale next Tuesday 10 November. 

Spring 2016 is packed with classic drama, both ancient and modern. The centerpiece of the season will be This Restless House, a trilogy of new plays by Zinnie Harris based on the epic Greek tragedy The Oresteia. This Restless House is a co-production with National Theatre of Scotland and will be presented over two evenings from 15 Apr - 14 May and will be a large-scale theatrical event,

Our Artistic Director Dominic Hill had this to say about the new season that he's put together:
Citizens Theatre Artistic Director Dominic Hill. Image Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

"As well as telling a story of a family whose loyalties to one another are tested in the most extreme way, This Restless House is about a changing society where the cracks in democracy are beginning to appear. I think our audiences will find plenty of resonances between today’s culture and the world depicted in Zinnie’s play, inspired by a work that has survived over 2,000 years.  This Restless House is part of a broad and varied season of work which recognises anniversaries of both the death of Shakespeare and one of the most horrific events of the First World War. It also brings great contemporary Scottish writing to a Glasgow stage and features co-productions with some of the best theatre companies in the UK.

Working with our co-producers enables us to present ambitious, large-scale work throughout our season and I’m pleased that we’ll be working together with companies from across the UK and Ireland and sharing the work that we make here in Glasgow with them. The Citizens is well-known for bold and innovative interpretations of classics, and with this season I feel we’re really delivering on that reputation."

The season in full includes:

ENDGAME 4 - 20 February 2016
A new production of Beckett’s darkly comic Endgame, directed by Dominic Hill.  Leading the cast are stars of Coronation Street David Neilson and Chris Gascoyne, better known as their Corrie characters Roy Cropper and Peter Barlow. Endgame is Hill’s second Beckett production at the Citizens following his highly successful double-bill of Krapp’s Last Tape and Footfalls starring the late Gerard Murphy. Following performances at the Citizens, the production will tour to HOME Manchester, co-producers on the project. 

Endgame at the Citizens Theatre 4 - 20 February 2016. Image Reuben Paris

BLACKBIRD 25 Feb - 3 Mar 2016
Following Into That Darkness, his five-star debut production on the Citizens’ main stage in 2015, the Citizens Main Stage Director in Residence Gareth Nicholls directs David Harrower’s Blackbird, one of the most important works of twenty-first century Scottish drama. Asking difficult questions about paedophilia and adolescent sexuality, the play depicts a confrontation between a young woman and a middle-aged man fifteen years after the end of their relationship when she was only twelve years old. 

GET CARTER 8 - 11 Mar 2016
ON SALE 10 NOVNewcastle’s NorthernStage tour to the Citizens for the first time with a dark and stylish production of Get Carter, the British crime drama made famous by the 1971 film starring Michael Caine. Set in 1960’s Newcastle, Torben Betts’ adaptation of the novel Jack’s Return Home by Ted Lewis is a hard and uncompromising look at a city’s underworld gang culture and a gripping noir thriller. Get Carter is directed by Northern Stage Artistic Director Lorne Campbell.

Many acts already on sale. Full programme TBAIn March, Glasgow International Comedy Festival takes over the Citizens Theatre, with confirmed acts including Jenny Eclair, Richard Herring, MarkWatson, Mark Steel, Shappi Khorsandi, Bridget Christie, Des Clarke, Greg Proops and James Campbell, with more acts to be announced.

Some of the acts performing at the Citizens Theatre in 2016.

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream:A Play For The Nation features six amateur Scottish actors in the roles of The Mechanicals, including the iconic role of Bottom. The specially-formed Citizens Dream Players will perform alongside a company of professional RSC actors and pupils from Shawlands Academy.  In addition to performing on the Citizens’ stage the Citizens Dream Players will travel to Stratford-Upon-Avon in June 2016 to reprise their roles on the Royal Shakespeare Theatre stage.  Directed by RSC Deputy Artistic Director Erica Whyman, this ambitious tour involves fourteen amateur companies across the UK and marks 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare. 
A Midsummer Night's Dream: A Play for the Nation features six amateur actors alongside a professional cast

THIS RESTLESS HOUSE 15 Apr - 15 May 2016
ON SALE 10 NOVThis Restless House is a new trilogy of plays by Zinnie Harris based on the Greek tragedy The Oresteia by Aeschylus, and is a co-production with National Theatre of Scotland.  Harris’ plays tells the bloody saga of a family torn apart by a succession of murders and betrayals, set against the backdrop of a society on the brink of a revolution and learning to operate within a nascent and flawed justice system. First performed in 485 BC, today’s audience will find that Dominic Hill’s raw and brutal production brings the universal themes of justice, revenge, loyalty, and the evolving relationships between teenagers and their parents to the fore in his trademark theatrical style. Nikola Kodjabashia, composer on A Christmas Carol, Hamlet and Crime and Punishment returns to create new music for the plays, with Colin Richmond, designer on Crime and Punishment and Doctor Faustus also returning to the Citizens.  

The season ends with a major new co-production commemorating the 100
th anniversary of the Battle of The Somme.  Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme by Frank McGuinness is a co-production between the Citizens, Headlong, Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse and The Abbey, Dublin. 
Directed by Headlong Artistic Director Jeremy Herrin, the production will premiere at the Citizens Theatre before a tour of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and performances at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin where it was first premiered in 1985. 

Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme is a co-production between the Citizens Theatre, Abbey Theatre, Liverpool Everyman 

Tickets for all productions in our Spring 2016 season are available now to book online, or by calling our box office on 0141 429 0022. 

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

A Short History of the Close Theatre Club

We're at the heart of our Up Close season celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the notorious but short-lived Close Theatre. We asked Jenny Knotts to share some of her research on The Close Theatre.

On the evening of Tuesday 29th September 1964 throngs of cars carrying guests and supporters of the Glasgow Citizens Theatre drew up along Gorbals street. The occasion was a Gala evening to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the company. Adorned in evening wear, a stipulation usually reserved for opening nights, audience members poured into the majestic foyer ahead of the main event- a revival of James Bridie’s ‘A Sleeping Clergyman’,

Citizens Theatre founder James Bridie

As the curtain fell, the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Michael Goldberg, took to the stage to herald the imminent opening of a new, workshop theatre, adjunct to the Citizens, that would devote itself to theatrical experimentation. This intimate theatre would provide artists with a space to explore new texts and techniques free from the constraints and pressures of the proscenium arch. The announcement was met with rapturous applause and extensive media coverage as plans for the latest venture of the Citizens Theatre Company, and certainly its greatest since its move to Gorbals Street from the Athenaeum in 1945, got underway.
Nearly a decade later, in May 1973, staff and helpers scrambled among the ashes of the destroyed Close Theatre Club in a bid to salvage some evidence of the near 200 productions that had taken place ‘up the close’ at 127 Gorbals Street. Nowadays there is no physical remembrance of the Close, however its legacy can be found not only in the Tron Theatre, which was eventually formed to help fill the void created by the 1973 fire, but also in the very nature of modern theatre in Scotland. Despite its untimely demise, the Close Theatre Club altered the landscape of Scottish theatre forever.

The Close Theatre was destroyed by fire in 1973.

 The Close Theatre club was born from an ongoing rumbling of unrest, both within its parent theatre, the Citizens, and in the wider Scottish theatre community. The Citizens came under a great deal of pressure from patrons and the press to produce more new work. Aware of these demands and the building’s own growing pains, Goldberg, kept a watchful eye on a former dance hall, now notorious pitch and toss club which lay directly adjacent to the Citizens. In a fittingly dramatic twist of fate, a violent murder led to the immediate closure of the club. Goldberg seized the opportunity and stepped in.

The idea of a small experimental theatre was not merely enthusiastically welcomed but seemed impertinent to the company’s development. As Director of Productions, Ian Cuthbertson attested: “Every industry has its research department: the theatre is in no way different, only well behind.” This view was shared by those involved in the project and minutes from the inaugural meeting note:

It was agreed that this would be an exciting venture giving the opportunity for trying out new actors, new plays and new playwrights and also the opportunity to give full time work to more actors.
Out At Sea
Ross Allan and Robert Jack in Out At Sea as part of the Up Close Season 

From the outset it was decided that the Citizens and Close theatres would complement each other wherever possible, sharing both facilities such as scenic workshops, and staff including actors and technicians. One actor, Dermot Tuohy, managed to perfectly embody this mutual  benefaction in the early days of the Close by playing a small role in first act of the main stage production, then dashing offstage and upstairs to play a prominent role in the second piece in that night’s Close double bill.

The Close quickly carved a niche for itself in staging lesser seen works by well-known writers as well as brand new pieces. Olwen Wymark’s first play Lunchtime Concert was a notable success in the early years of the venture and was later revived in a triple bill of the playwright’s work-testament to the theatre’s dedication to developing emerging artists. One act plays were preferred, with audiences usually being treated to a double bill – on occasion returning after the interval to discover the layout of the theatre had changed entirely during the interval from apron to in-the-round – such was the diversity of the space. Later script readings, film nights, opera and even ballet would grace its versatile stage.

Director Charles Marowitz''s Doctor Faustus in The Close Theatre caused controversy

An infamous episode in 1965 involving Charles Marowitz and an interesting interpretation of Doctor Faustus and a mask of the queen’s face, resulted in the abandonment of the opening night performance in favour of an impromptu debate between audience and management about whether or not the show should go ahead. The incident afforded the club its first front page controversy, and sparked interest far and wide in the new little theatre. With membership soaring to over 2,000 the Close firmly cemented its position as the most theatrically exciting venue on the west coast.

Lot and His God 3 - 10 October 2015 Pauline Knowles as Sverdlosk and Cliff Burnett as Lot
Pauline Knowles and Cliff Burnett in Lot and His God as part of the Up Close season
With the arrival of Giles Havergal, Philip Prowse, and later Robert David MacDonald, the Close theatre continued to be a hive of theatrical experimentation and boundary shattering productions. So too, however, was the main stage. While the Close undoubtedly offered theatre goers a unique experience in the intimate nature of the auditorium and the buzzing social hub of the bar, it was no longer the only place on Gorbals street one could find theatrically outlandish and exciting work. Of course there were certain productions that would never have been possible, or as effective, on the Citizens main stage such as Artaud’s The Cenci which hit headlines with its naked photo call and introduce Scottish theatregoers to concept of the Theatre of Cruelty. In the latter days, just as popular as the productions themselves were the nightclub and restaurant (doubling as staff canteen) which made the Close both the place to be and to be seen. 

Yet its original purpose was no longer quite as urgent as it had been in the early years of its life. In the years following the fire Giles told Michael Coveney
 “In the old days the Close was a leech, using a lot of manpower and resources, and it drove us mad. But once we were up and running we felt differently about its loss – to the extent that, today we feel we could once again do with another space.” 
Of course the Citizens would later acquire not one, but two studio spaces each of which hosted some of the company’s most exciting work.

Lot and His God 3 - 10 October 2015 Daniel Cahill as Drogheda and Cliff Burnett as Lot
Daniel Cahill and Cliff Burnett in Lot and His God as part of the Up Close Season
As the trendiest place to be seen in Glasgow, the city’s first unofficial gay bar and the only place either side of the river to serve drink on a Sunday, the Close contributed much more to the cultural fabric of Glasgow than simply theatre. Its significance cannot be overestimated. Not only was the intimate theatre the first of its kind in Glasgow, but the Citizens Theatre was the only one in Britain to harbour two theatre spaces under one roof at the time. In this achievement alone we can regard the Close Theatre Club as a pioneering enterprise in British theatre as the studio space gradually became a staple in venues up and down the country. The Close stage was also home to a plethora of theatre heavy-weights during the formative years of their careers including Steven Berkoff, David Hayman, Peter Kelly, Ann Mitchell, Ida Schuster, Billy Connolly (who would later headline a post-fire Close benefit gala) Richard Wilson and many more. The Close Theatre Club undoubtedly marked a key moment in Scottish theatre - now immeasurably richer for its existence.

until 24 October 
By Sławomir Mrożek 
Directed by Matthew Lenton
Presented in association with Vanishing Point

31 Oct - 7 Nov
By Sam Holcroft

Scottish Theatre Archives, University of Glasgow Library
Magic in the Gorbals, Cordelia Oliver
The Citz, Michael Coveney
Up the Close: The Close Theatre at the Citizens’, Glasgow’ J Riddel  

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Getting Up Close

Our Up Close season is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the legendary Close Theatre with a month raw, challenging and visceral theatre in our intimate Circle Studio. One play in, and audiences are loving getting Up Close to some top acting talent and re-living the heady early days of experimental theatre in Glasgow. 

“It was illicit, and it felt like Glasgow's only gay club at the time. It was inspired by the Traverse, which had opened in Edinburgh two years before, and the desire to get something that was the equivalent of the Traverse on the west coast. At the time it existed it was vital in a lot of ways because there was nowhere else that was really like it." - Artistic Director Dominic Hill talks to The Herald about Up Close

And when we say Up Close, we mean close. Like, really close. This is an actual representation of the view from your seat when you book for one of our Up Close shows. 

Daniel Cahill and Cliff Burnett in Lot and His God. Image by Alex Brady. More production images available to view on Flickr
Really enjoyed 'Lot And His God.' Personal highlight was the guy with lipstick on his nipples @ewansomers ��������

"an electric set of power games"The Herald
"a tense and eloquent four-hander" The Scotsman
"this minimalist approach works wonders" Broadway Baby
"Debbie Hannan's splendid, edgy direction retains the potency of Barker's script" ★ Across The Arts

Read more audience and critics' comments on Up Close on Storify.

Availability for Lot and His God, was tighter than Frank N Furter's corset* so don't leave it too late to book for the rest of our Up Close season!

Directed by Matthew Lenton, Vanishing Point Artistic Director
17 - 24 Oct

Directed by Gareth Nicholls, Mainstage Director in Residence
31 Oct - 7 Nov

*First worn by Tim Curry in The Close Theatre's 1971 production of Jean Genet's The Maids. Allegedly.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015


On Sunday 20 September, the Citizens Theatre Company celebrated 70 years in its Gorbals home in Glasgow with an invited audience of actors, current and former staff and friends of the company. 

Fidelis Morgan
Maureen Beattie
Former and current stars of the Citizens Theatre stage including Celia Imrie, Rupert Everett, Miles Jupp, Maureen Beattie, Ron Donachie, Ann Mitchell and Fidelis Morgan took the stage to perform extracts of some of the plays which have made the Citizens Theatre famous and share their memories of the theatre. 
Celia Imrie
Rupert Everett
 Giles Havergal, one of the three artistic leaders of the Citizens Theatre alongside Robert David Macdonald and Philip Prowse under whose leadership the Citizens Theatre flourished, performed extracts from his adaptation of Travels With My Aunt by Graham Greene. Havergal described the production from 1989 as ‘truly among the happiest days of my life.’
Former Artistic Director Giles Havergal

Some of the Citizens’ most notorious productions have been performances of Hamlet, and the audience were treated to performances by Brian Ferguson (Hamlet, 2014), Peter Guinness (Claudius, 2014), Andy Clark (Hamlet, 2007), Cal MacAninch (Hamlet, 1996),  video contributions from Henry Ian Cusick (Hamlet, 1993) and David Hayman (Hamlet, 1975 & 1970), and a live appearance by John Cairney, the Citizens’ first Hamlet in 1960, and as a graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, formerly known as the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, the first Scottish-trained actor to perform the role. 

A trio of Hamlets: Cal MacAninch, John Cairney, Andy Clark

The Citizens’ current Artistic Director Dominic Hill thanked the audience for attending, and appealed for support for the theatre’s planned redevelopment, scheduled to begin work in 2017.

Artistic Director Dominic Hill

 The audience also heard an exclusive first performance of ‘Us Two’, one of the brand new songs by Deacon Blue front man Ricky Ross written for new Scottish musical The Choir, book by Paul Higgins, opening at the Citizens Theatre on Thu 29 October 2015.
Paul Higgins

Sarah Tansey and Miles Jupp

 The evening closed with an appearance by Ida Schuster, 96, performing an incredibly spirited extract of Jean Genet’s The Balcony, performed under a screen projection of production images from her appearance in the play in 1982.

Ida Schuster
 Founded in 1943 by James Bridie, the Citizens Theatre Company moved into the 1878-built theatre at 119 Gorbals Street formerly known as The Royal Princesses’ Theatre. Since then, the Citizens has gained a reputation around the world for bold, innovative, provocative and challenging interpretations of classic texts, as well as productions that celebrate the Citizens’ role in Glasgow’s cultural life.
Citizens Theatre 70th anniversary celebrations Sunday 20 September 2015. Images by Tommy Ga Ken Wan

 To see a full set of images from our celebrations, visit our Flickr page. 

Do you have memories of the Citizens Theatre 70 year history? Share them with us!  

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

"You – Lanark - you’re very interesting"

After previews in Glasgow and Edinburgh, Lanark: A Life in Three Acts received its world premiere performances at the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh on Sunday 23 August as part of the 2015 Edinburgh International Festival.  

Sandy Grierson and Helen McKay. Credit Eoin Carey
Audiences and critics have been blown away by this epic, ambitious and imaginative adaptation of Alasdair Gray's classic novel written by David Greig and directed by Graham Eatough.

"The linchpin of the production is Sandy Grierson’s astonishing performance as Lanark himself...supported every step of the way, though, by so many other strands of Eatough’s astonishing production."  
★★★★★ The Scotsman 

"Between them, David Greig and Graham Eatough have brought together what is a complex and challenging read that looks at society, sex, death, socialist ideals, love, problematic relationships with women, fathers and sons to create a funny and astounding piece of theatre produced on an operatic and highly physical scale." 
★★★★★ The Edinburgh Guide

"The great achievement of the adaptation is that performers and staging sail through the fantasy, from sci-fi to simple nightmare, with fleeting echoes of Beckett, Kafka, Pinter and Joyce, in a superbly drilled and exhilaratingly confident piece of ensemble theatre...David Greig’s writing and Graham Eatough’s direction leave one intrigued, puzzled and even tempted to go back for more." 
★★★★ The Financial Times (£)

Sandy Grierson. Credit Eoin Carey
"When Sandy Grierson as Alasdair Gray's eponymous alter-ego in David Greig's sprawling adaptation of Gray's magical realist 1981 novel declares that he wishes to pen a modern day Divine Comedy with illustrations inspired by William Blake, it knowingly sums up the artistic ambitions of both Gray and Graham Eatough's equally epic production." 
★★★★ The Herald

"Eatough's production, which is splendidly designed, for the most part, by Laura Hopkins, and blessed with amazing video work by Simon Wainwright, is undeniably modernist and quintessentially Scottish."
★★★★ The Telegraph

"David Greig and Graham Eatough’s insanely ambitious adaptation of the Alasdair Gray novel is like a heady, unsettling, unpredictable dream" 
★★★★ The Guardian

"as a big festival event it is timely and memorable for all the right reasons"
★★★★ The Stage

"a bold, bonkers and brilliant production that should please even the most die-hard of Gray fans...loud, large and visually stunning." 
★★★★ The List

"A world of hugely entertaining possibilities is on display in Lanark. The co-production between the Citizens Theatre and the International Festival has all of the excitement and weight of a capital-letter Theatre Event"
★★★★ All Edinburgh Theatre

Lanark: A Life in Three Acts plays at the Edinburgh International Festival until Monday 31 August, and plays at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow 3 - 19 September.


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Good Artists Copy, Great Artists Steal

Pablo Picasso said:

"Good artists copy, great artists steal."

Copied or stolen, Alasdair Gray's novel Lanark - A Life in Four Books is full of references, ideas and re-appropriations of others' works.

Plagiarism (taking someone else's work and passing it off as your own) is one of the defining elements of the postmodern movement. Music, films, art and writing that is described as postmodern often uses elements of earlier styles, or mixes together different media and styles to create something new.

For example, Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge! uses lines, tunes and lyrics from famous love songs and stitches them together to create the soundtrack for the film.

Vanilla Ice settled out of court for an undisclosed sum after his track Ice Ice Baby sampled Queen and David Bowie's Under Pressure without permission.

Lady Gaga's music doesn't directly sample other's music, but heavily references Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Michael Jackson and others, and her music videos echo a whole range of films and music videos.

Lanark is often described as a masterpiece of postmodernism, in part thanks to its open and liberal references to other works. Alasdair Gray fully acknowledges the various influences on Lanark - A Life in Four Books, choosing to include a famous index of plagiarisms in the novel.

Similarly, the creative team for Lanark - A Life in Three Acts have been inspired by a whole host of music, films, theatre, novels, and have made a list of how those inspirations have been translated into their work.

We've put together a Lanark Plagiarism Pinterest board showing how Willy Wonka, The Beatles, Logan's Run and Corrie's Bet Lynch have all provided the source for the creative team's ideas for the show.

Why not see how many you can spot when you come to see Lanark at the Citizens Theatre from 14 - 17 August or 3 - 19 September? Maybe you'll spot some more of your own!

Book Now for Lanark at the Citizens Theatre 14 - 17 August and 3 - 19 September

If you'd like to find out more about the inspirations behind Lanark, book now for one of our pre-show events, timed to take place before performances of Lanark.

Lanark Curtain Raiser Sat 12 September 5.15pm
Brunch With Lanark Sat 19 September 11am

Tickets are available from our Box Office 0141 429 0022 (Tickets to Lanark must be purchased separately.)

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

From the Personal to the Universal - Alasdair Gray's Visual Art

As we get ready to welcome Lanark onto our stage, we thought it was the ideal time to explore Alasdair Gray's visual art which is central to design of the production. We asked Sorcha Dallas for her insight into Gray's often overlooked artwork. Sorcha curated and devised the recent Alasdair Gray Season which saw Alasdair's work exhibited across Glasgow. 

Alasdair Gray's cover design for Lanark. Courtesy Glasgow Print Studios.

Alasdair Gray is a prolific polymath, internationally acknowledged as a major Scottish writer. Over the last 50 years he has built an extensive body of work within both the literary and visual art fields. His written oeuvre is unique across all genres - fiction, poetry, plays, critical essays and reviews: it is renowned, but his visual work has been less widely acknowledged due to it never being thoroughly researched, archived and promoted.

Alasdair Gray's design for the title page of Lanark. Courtesy Glasgow Print Studio

My working relationship with Alasdair Gray began in 2007, although I had encountered his work long before. As a painting student at Glasgow School of Art, Lanark was a key text and cited as a constant source of inspiration for many an emerging artist. Studying in the late 90s in Glasgow I witnessed an increase in experimental and 'environmental' art within the city, with many of the artists using the city itself as the context to their work. The energy of these artists was critical in establishing the artist run space TransmissionGallery in the late 80s, which was crucial in fostering a local community and art scene. Transmission Gallery was the catalyst in creating a vibrant, grassroots art scene which encouraged artists to stay within the city, to not move (in the past many would have had to move to London for both economic and career opportunities) but to build an international dialogue and root it firmly back into a local community.

Transmission Gallery, King Street, Glasgow. Credit Stephen Robinson
Transmission has always encouraged cross pollination of mediums, politics and ideas and Gray and a new generation of writers (such as James Kelman and Liz Lochhead) were often involved in readings and events, such as the 1987 series 'Transmission Goes Verbal'. 
Jessica Hardwick and Sandy Grierson in rehearsals for Lanark. Credit Tim Morozzo
Artists who are musicians (and vice versa) add to Glasgow's supportive, experimental and vibrant scene, securing its position as a leading international city of culture. Alasdair Gray's politics, ideas, publications and artworks continue to inspire Scottish writers and artists seeking to achieve an international voice whilst still being based in Scotland. His work has always been rooted in the idea of the local. However, Gray has always striven to use this idea as a starting point to acknowledge and discuss more universal themes, a sentiment that inspired the Transmission generation and holds strong to this day.

When I started working with Alasdair I had been working with a younger generation of Glasgow based artists through the commercial gallery (Sorcha Dallas) I owned and ran. From 2003-2011 the gallery offered a support structure for a new generation of emerging artists based within the city. It was only the second contemporary commercial gallery in Glasgow and grew out of the artist run scene in which I had been involved since the late 90s. Many of the artists I worked with, like myself, admired Gray's unequivocal vision, often at odds with current practices, and the way he used the familiar, Glasgow, to deal with international ideas and concerns. Although Alasdair had trained at Glasgow School of Art and considered himself an artist who fell into writing, it was the latter for which he was best known. 

Alasdair Gray mural at Hillhead Subway Station, Glasgow
Walking around the West End of Glasgow you could experience Gray's murals, however go beyond that it seemed most people encountered his visual work through his books. My main aim has been to recontextualise Alasdair's visual work, to show it is as unique and autonomous as his literary works and to make a wider public aware of the incredible body of work spanning over 65 years. The key to this has been promoting it through exhibitions and events (such as The Alasdair Gray Season I recently devised whose main show 'From The Personal to the Universal' at Kelvingrove Art Galler and Museum I curated) as well as ordering his visual material and creating an online resource through which to experience it which I will developing further in 2015 and beyond, in partnership with Glasgow University and Glasgow School of Art.

Lanark previews at the Citizens Theatre from 14 - 17 August, returning 3 - 19 September.

Lanark will also be performed at the Edinburgh International Festival at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh from 22 - 31 August.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Mary Sweeney 1923 - 2015

Today we received the sad news that one of our longest serving and much loved members of staff at the Citizens Theatre has passed away. Mary Sweeney worked Front of House at the theatre for over 40 years as our ‘Chief’ usher, retiring in 2003 at the age of 80.

Mary with her granddaughter Jenny in her seat M13

She celebrated her 90th birthday at the theatre and today we share again the words of friend and colleague Christine Hamilton who paid tribute to the impact she made on staff and audiences alike during her illustrious career at the Citz:

"For forty years Mary Sweeney was the public face of the Citizens Theatre. While Giles Havergal was often to be found graciously welcoming the audience into his theatre in the Gorbals, it was Mary who was bustling around in the background ensuring the ushers, bar and door staff were all in place, patrons welcomed and directed to their seats, school parties efficiently herded into the right place and those with problems with walking or in wheelchairs, accommodated without fuss. Regular patrons could be sure of a word of recognition along with the welcome and, at the end of the show, no matter how startling, shocking or controversial, she gently sought their views with neither pressure nor judgement. All of this happened apparently seamlessly – without fuss or drama. Problems dealt with, crises diverted. When today I hear the well-worn phrase ‘your safety and comfort is our priority’, I think of Mary, the very embodiment of customer care before the phrase was invented.”

Mary enjoying her 90th party 

Mary also appeared (very briefly) on stage during her career with the theatre, when director Philip Prowse asked her to be an extra in A Waste of Time – an adaptation of Proust’s great novel by Robert David Macdonald.

Mary on stage in A Waste of Time

Artistic Director, Dominic Hill said: “When I first joined the Citizens, Mary was introduced to me on our opening nights as someone who had influenced generations of staff who she took under her wing during those incredible 40 years of service to the company. She embodied everything about the Citz and how it welcomes audiences to performances. We are saddened to hear of her passing today but her legacy will live on for many years to come.”

General Manager, Lesley Davidson said: “Mary was dedicated to the Citizens and was adored by staff and audiences. She was truly a ‘one off’ and will be sadly missed by us all.”

The inimitable Mary Sweeney

The funeral will take place on Wednesday 5 August, 10am at St Gabriel's Church, Merrylee Road then Carnbooth House Hotel in Carmunnock. 

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Introducing The Citizens Dream Players

Six local amateur actors will be joining the Royal Shakespeare Company’s forthcoming production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  

The Citizens Dream Players they will play the roles of the ‘Mechanicals’ when the production visits the Citizens Theatre between 29 March – 2 April 2016.
100 amateur actors from across Glasgow auditioned for the RSC in February 2015. From the wealth of Glasgow talent, The Citizens Dream Player have been formed. They will take on the roles of the 'Mechanicals', the under-prepared, yet loveable bunch of craftsmen and women who put themselves forward to entertain royalty at the end of the play.

Left to right: Bill Whiland (Snug, the Joiner), Emma Tracey (Starveling, the Tailor), David Scanlan (Quince, the Carpenter), Katy Thomson (Snout, the Tinker), Alistair Wales (Flute, the Bellows Mender) and Martin Turner (Bottom, the Weaver).
Bill Whiland, a former policeman has just started acting but it has always been a lifelong ambition to perform on stage.  
Glasgow born Emma Tracey is currently studying acting and performing at Glasgow Clyde College and has been acting since she was 10. 
David Scanlan from Paisley has been acting for four years and currently holds a BA in Commercial Music from University of Paisley. 
Both Katy Thomson and Alistair Wales began acting from an early age. Katy joined her local theatre group at age seven and Alistair has been acting since he was eight years old. Their roles as Flute and Snout will be the first time they have performed Shakespeare.  
Martin Turner has been acting in amateur productions for 40 years, the father of two has starred in A Midsummer Night’s Dream before as lover Demetrius and this will be his first time playing Bottom.

The group will perform alongside a cast of 18 professional actors and a professional creative team, led by RSC Deputy Artistic Director, Erica Whyman.

A Midsummer Night’sDream: A Play for the Nation will visit 12 theatres in each region and nation of the UK between 17 February and 4 June 2016, and will involve 14 different amateur theatre companies.  In each theatre a different local amateur theatre company will play the Mechanicals, and local school children will take part as Titania’s fairy train.  
Tickets for A Midsummer Night’sDream are on sale now and available from citz.co.uk or by calling the Box Office on 0141 429 0022.