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 or by calling the Box Office on 0141 429 0022.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Autumn season now on sale including a new musical featuring songs by Ricky Ross

We finish off our 70th anniversary year in grand style with a new musical written by Paul Higgins and featuring brand new songs by Deacon Blue singer and songwriter Ricky Ross. We're doubling up our helping of birthday cake to celebrate another historic anniversary with a trio of new productions inspired by the controversial, radical and risqué programming of the Close Theatre 1965 - 1973.

Clockwise from top left: Lanark, Progression 2015, Dragon, The Choir, Scarfed for Life.

The full autumn programme is now on sale and includes:

LANARK (14 – 17 August and 3 – 19 September)
A major new theatrical adaptation of Alasdair Gray’s most famous work. Lanark continues a collaboration between writer David Greig and director Graham Eatough which began with experimental theatre company Suspect Culture.

PROGRESSION 2015 (24 & 25 September)

Solar Bear take over the Citizens Theatre for two days of workshops, discussion and performance that celebrate theatre and performance that is accessible to deaf and hearing participants and audiences.

DRAGON (1 – 10 October)
A co-production between Vox Motus, National Theatre of Scotland and Tianjin Children’s Art Theatre, Dragon has won awards and critical acclaim for its extraordinary visual story, told without words, featuring puppetry, illusion and an original, rich orchestral score.

THE CHOIR (24 October –14 November)
The Choir is a funny, gritty but ultimately heart-warming musical play set in Wishaw about a group of strangers who come together, not always willingly, to sing in a community choir. Directed by Citizens Theatre Artistic Director Dominic Hill, written by Paul Higgins and features original songs written by Deacon Blue’s Ricky Ross.

A programme of visceral, experimental and challenging work, rarely seen on the Scottish stage and inspired by the spirit and ethos of the original Close Theatre. Learn more about the Close in The Herald's interview with Artistic Director, Dominic Hill.

Lot and His God by Howard Barker (3 – 10 October)

A subversive re-telling of the ancient Old Testament tale of Lot and his wife and the fall of the city of Sodom. Directed by Debbie Hannan.

Striptease & Out At Sea by Słavomir Mrożek (17 – 24 October)
A double bill of surrealist drama with Vanishing Point founder and Artistic Director Matthew Lenton directing.

Vanya by Sam Holcroft (31 October – 7 November)
Fresh from his five-star production of Into That Darkness, Citizens Theatre Main Stage Director in Residence Gareth Nicholls directs an evocative response to Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya.

RAPUNZEL (28 November –3 January)
Let down your hair! A funny, foolish, madcap festive show with a darkly mischievous side suitable for the whole family aged 6 and over.

Out of the building and on the road:
 SCARFED FOR LIFE (14 –22 August)
Citizens Learning take Scarfed For Life, a modern Scottish parable set against the backdrop of the first Celtic and Rangers clash of the season tours to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Òran Mór, Glasgow and Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock.

Fill your boots with fresh new theatre this autumn. You can save pounds for an extra ice cream at the interval on Family Tickets for Dragon and Rapunzel. Plus bag a bonus discount if you book for all the performances as part of Progression 2015 or Close Theatre Anniversary Season.

To book tickets for all the Citizens’ Autumn 2015 productions, and to find out more about the range concessions on offer, visit or call the Box Office on 0141 429 0022.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Not your average high school musical

The Dance School of Scotland return to the Citizens Theatre for its thirteenth year. Based in Knightswood Secondary School in Glasgow, the Dance School of Scotland provides free vocational training alongside a mainstream academic curriculum.

Photo by Andy Ross.

The school’s Musical Theatre students are bringing Godspell, by American lyricist and composer Stephen Schwartz, to our main stage this month. First performed in 1971, Godspell is one of the iconic musicals of the decade. The show sets traditional hymns to modern music, with one of the songs, Day By Day, becoming a chart hit. The musical was so popular, a film version soon followed in 1973.

As well as contributing lyrics to a number of Disney animations, Stephen Schwartz created the phenomenal international hit, Wicked, an alternate view of the witches of The Wizard of Oz. But what remains most exciting about his early hit, Godspell, is as Stephen says “it is reinvented with each production.”

Thirty-five S5 and S6 pupils from the Dance School of Scotland will bring their own interpretation of the rock musical to the Citz under the direction of Graham Dickie in a brand new production. See how their preparations have been going in the video below.


10 - 13 JUNE 2015

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

A triumphant take on a Citizens classic

Our Main Stage Director in Residence, Gareth Nicholls, debuts at the Citizens with a thrilling production of Into That Darkness. Adapted by Robert David MacDonald, the play lays bare journalist Gitta Sereny's interviews with a convicted Nazi war criminal. Critics are calling the production a "triumph".

Cliff Burnett in Into That Darkness. Credit: Tim Morozzo

“superbly acted drama is a meticulous, compelling triumph”
The Guardian ★★★★★

“superb production… magnificently captured”
The Scotsman ★★★★★

“a production that will keep you engaged long after the house lights come up”
The Public Reviews ★★★★

“a thrillingly mesmeric meditation on human cruelty.”
The Herald ★★★★

“The ensemble is highly skilled and committed, with Duff in particular adding yet another beautifully textured portrait to her gallery of multifaceted women. “
The Times ★★★★

“painful, raw emotion carried beautifully by its two leads”

Blythe Duff and Molly Innes in Into That Darkness. Credit: Tim Morozzo

Audiences have been struck by the intense performances from Blythe Duff and Cliff Burnett, and the thought-provoking subject matter that looks into the very heart of evil.

Blythe Duff, Cliff Burnett and Molly Innes in Into That Darkness. Credit: Tim Morozzo

See more from what audiences have been saying on Storify


Friday, 22 May 2015

PJ Paparelli

Citizens Theatre staff are shocked and deeply saddened by the death of PJ Paparelli, Artistic Director of American Theatre Company in Chicago. PJ passed away on Thursday 21 May 2015 in Glasgow, following a road traffic accident. 
American Theater Company Artistic Director PJ Paparelli

PJ will be sadly missed by all those who met and worked with him during the time he spent at the Citizens last year developing his documentary play The Project(s). 

The Citizens Theatre staff send condolences to PJ’s family and friends, and to colleagues at the American Theatre Company. 

Friday, 15 May 2015

An insight into the work of a forensic clinical psychologist

As a dramatisation of interviews with a convicted Nazi war criminal, Into That Darkness looks into the very heart of evil and asks how, 70 years after the end of the Second World War, we can prevent atrocities of this scale from happening again.

Director Gareth Nicholls will be joined by forensic clinical psychologist, Anne Carpenter McKechnie, for a Curtain Raiser event on Thursday 21st May to discuss how individuals become capable of horrific crimes.

Here, Anne introduces her work and illuminates what we can learn from the study of criminals.

I trained first as a clinical psychologist and our role is in working with mental illness and abnormality, largely in health settings, treating problems such as depression, anxiety, psychotic illnesses, phobias etc. We are trained in the assessment and treatment of such conditions across all ages and abilities, including learning disability. I later qualified for recognition as a forensic psychologist and in this capacity am trained in the assessment and treatment of offending behaviour. A core part of the work of a forensic clinical psychologist is therefore explaining the link between mental illness or mental disorder and offending behaviour.

Society often becomes confused about the reasons why people commit extreme offences such as violent or sexual offences; we often want to label such people as "mad" because it reassures us that this was out of the ordinary and is therefore unlikely to happen on a regular basis. While some people may be "mad" i.e. suffering from a severe and enduring mental illness such as schizophrenia, others do not have illnesses that respond to medication or hospital treatment. Such people often have personality difficulties to such an extent that they are assessed as having a personality disorder; this means that they way they think, feel and behave is at odds with how the rest of their culture or society behave. A personality disorder diagnosis, be it Anti social, Psychopathic or Borderline is a way of describing someone who persistently and across all aspects of their life behaves in a way that sets them apart from others. Research on the assessment of risk of serious and sexual violence has identified that the presence of a personality disorder, particularly psychopathy, is the biggest indicator of potential future risk of repeat offending. It is therefore a core part of my work in the assessment of violent offenders to determine whether or not a personality disorder exists and to identity treatment and management plans for such individuals.

Director Gareth Nicholls in rehearsal with cast members Cliff Burnett, Blythe Duff and Ali Craig. Photo by Tim Morozzo.

When I was approached to work with Gareth and the cast I was delighted to be able to have the opportunity to share my 25 years of experience of working with offenders and individuals with severe personality difficulties. I was particularly struck that Gitta Sereny, not a trained psychologist but clearly a woman with a keen interest in the human condition, managed to successfully engage Stangl in the discussion of his life and offending. While I have never met anyone with the scale of offending which Stangl perpetrated, I have met many violent people (men and women) with personality disorders and have been able to engage them in work looking at the factors involved in their offending. I was able to discuss this with Blythe and Cliff and hope it helped them further their understanding and therefore portrayal of these interesting characters.

Anne will be speaking at our Into That Darkness: Curtain Raiser on Thursday 21 May at 6.00pm. Book via Box Office (0141 429 0022). £4/£3 concessions. For more information on Into That Darkness starring Blythe Duff and Cliff Burnett, head to

Friday, 8 May 2015

10 years young - Celebrating the Citizens Theatre Young Co.

Over sixteen productions, the Citizens Young Co. has supported young theatre makers by giving them the skills and opportunities to create work within a professional organisation. In the Young Co.'s 10th anniversary year, theatre director and blogger, Eve Nicol talks about her time in the early days of the company.


I had never been involved in school shows or youth theatres, but I had fallen in love with the Citizens Theatre on a school trip. I desperately wanted to learn more about how theatre companies made work for the stage.

I joined the Young Co. when I was 18. The group of teenagers who I met during my time with the Young Co. were the first of many young people the Citizens has supported since the company first began in 2005.

Experimenting on Woyzeck, Young Co. 2005.
We were a mixed bunch. The group was from a more diverse range of backgrounds and interests than I’d ever met at school or college. Spending hours together over the long periods required to create a show and we formed a firm group of friends. We learnt as much about each other as we did about theatre.

My time with the Young Co. made me aware of the variety of different jobs that were involved in getting a show to the stage. It wasn’t all about acting. The Learning team developed the work we did but we met all the other departments of the theatre who helped us get our ideas on stage. They kitted us out in costumes, helped to sell our show at the Box Office or conjured up stunning lighting designs that took our work to another level.

After our very first performance, everyone was hugging and screaming celebratory congratulations to each other in the theatre’s Circle Studio. I watched the celebrations from a step back. The feeling of pride in what we had created as an assorted bunch of teenagers who had only met each other two months ago was a greater feeling than any adrenaline of performing to an audience. I thought “we made this.” I took a photo of that moment and posted it all over our MySpace profiles.

The Chicago Project, Young Co. 2007. Photography by Iain G Farrell.

I left the Young Co. after four productions to go to university to study theatre. This choice would never have been made without the confidence my experience with the Young Co. gave me. Ten years on and sixteen Young Co. productions later, I’ve been working in theatre for over three years, doing now just as I did then – sharing the excitement of theatre on social media and creating my own work for the kind of intimate theatre spaces where I first found my feet.

This Is What We Ask, Young Co. 2012. Photography by Tim Morozzo.

There’s an entirely new batch of young theatre makers now part of the Young Co.  But many members of the early days of the company are now working in theatre. You might have seen two of them recently on the Citz main stage as professional actors. James Harkness was on tour with Headlong’s The Absence of War and Keira Lucchesi in the Citz’ own The Slab Boys.

James and Keira in Citizen Y, Nighthawks, Young Co. 2009. (photography by Tim Morozzo)

 L. The Absence of War at Headlong Theatre, Rose Theatre and Sheffield Theatres.
 (photography by Mark Douet)
R. The Slab Boys, Citizens Theatre (photography by Tim Morozzo)

Young Co. are currently performing Southside Stories, a new piece of theatre inspired by Fever Dream: Southside. 

Friday, 1 May 2015

Southside Diaries

In the first instalment of blog posts by our Young Co. members, Catriona McNicoll has taken time out of rehearsals  to share her insights into the making of Southside Stories.  

Not long to go now! The Young Co. are thrilled to be showing their verbatim piece, Southside Stories, as of next week through the 6th-9th of May. We've been working hard over the past few weeks and the show only seems to be getting better and better after each rehearsal.

Inspired by Douglas Maxwell’s Fever Dream: Southside which is directed by Dominic Hill on the Citizens’ main stage, the Young Co.’s Southside Stories gives an insight to life in Govanhill. Through a variety of anonymous interviews, a true sense of life in Glasgow’s most culturally diverse district becomes a heartfelt piece of theatre not to be missed. Stories of happy memories mixed with fears and hopes for the future create a show that could not have been done without the hard work and dedication of the whole team.

The Young Co. have been able to respectfully represent the lives and opinions of these real people. We even got the chance to visit Govanhill and see the streets and places mentioned throughout the piece to inspire us and to get an idea of everyday life there. We hope that we can do the extraordinary town of Govanhill justice and that we can not only entertain our audience, but inform them as well.

The Young Co. would like to thank all that have helped make our show as great as it is, with special thanks to Guy Hollands, Neil Packham and Finn Anderson. We would love as many people as possible to come along and explore life in Govanhill with us, come see us at the Circle Studio, Citizens Theatre May 6 - 9!

Catriona McNicoll - Member of Young Co.

Southside Stories 6 - 9 May

More info

Book now

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Fever Dream's A Pure Riot, So It Is

So, after weeks of hunting round the Southside, we finally know the answer to "Where's Terry?"

Douglas Maxwell's new play opened to the press on Saturday 25 April, and audiences are having a riot of a time at this "weird and chaotic" (The Guardian) show at the Citz.
Martin Donaghy and Charlene Boyd in Fever Dream: Southside. Credit Tim Morozzo
" ambitious hymn to human solidarity." ★★★★ The Guardian
"...a fantastical love letter, not just to the Govanhill neighbourhood it is set in, but to the city itself. "  ★★★★ The Herald
"...a mighty exploding bin-bag of ideas, images and slightly battered characters."
★★★★ The Scotsman 
"rending the Citz as a highly recommendable destination for the next two weeks." ★★★★ The Public Reviews 
"Maxwell’s script weaves between delirium and social realism, for an intelligent blend of the mythical and the realistic." ★★★★ The Stage  

Martin Donaghy and Scott Reid in Fever Dream: Southside. Credit Tim Morozzo

Martin McCormick and Charlene Boyd in Fever Dream: Southside Credit Tim Morozzo.

You can catch up with more of what our audiences think of the show on our Storify

Don't miss out on this rough 'n' ready Glaswegian - what's the opposite of a fairytale? Whitever - play, or Terry'll be after you. Knowwhitahmean?