Tuesday, 16 April 2013

A Statement of Intent

A.H: The actor Chris Keegan who, among many other roles, plays Cornelius in the show began our first rehearsal in Glasgow last week by telling us of his Nan’s worries for the cast’s souls. Apparently, upon learning we were doing a production of Dr Faustus she was so worried about the potential damnation of the cast that she told Chris she would be praying for both his soul and the souls of the entire cast. Well, it must be working as this first week has been an absolute success. Press Night on Tuesday went down a storm (as did the party after) and the changes we’ve added to the show are now second nature. The latter half of the week saw a birthday in the cast and a fantastic meal in the West End to celebrate before a well-earned rest on Sunday and Monday.
To be performing this show in the Citz is a joy. The production is such a clear statement of intent for the artistic vision Dominic plans to imbue all of his future seasons with. Naturally, the show isn’t perfect, there are flaws and problems but the audacity of the production combined with Colin Teevan’s rewritten middle provides so much to like.
The end of the week brought about another very clear statement of intent. Sunday saw the one night extravaganza that was Tell Me the Truth About Love. Organised by the actress Maureen Beattie the night was a massive charity evening designed to help the theatre reach the finish line for its Seat Restoration campaign. It was a fantastic evening of poetry, prose and charitable auctions where many important people gave a lot of their important time for to support an important local cause. Despite having 10am rehearsals in London the next day the infamous Shakespearean actor Simon Russell Beale had come up for the day, Siobhan Redmond (who is currently very busy playing Mephistopheles in Dr Faustus) gave up one of her only two days off to rehearse and perform in the show and Billy Boyd, who had taken a day off from a busy rehearsal schedule with his band, completed the roster.
FromLeft to Right:
Billy Boyd, Siobhan Redmond, Dominic Hill, Maureen Beattie and Simon Russell Beale.
 Photo by Tim Morozzo
The evening was made by actors and patrons of the theatre alike, both coming together to help bring the 1878 built building into the 21st Century. The evening was topped off with Dominic Hill laying out his vision for the Theatre’s renovation in 2016 which will see the building of a new foyer, and backstage facilities as well as ensuring the Old Lady of the Gorbals will be here for another 100 years. Hopefully that also includes Simon Russell Beale next treading the Citizens Theatre boards in a Dominic Hill production.
On a more personal level this week saw the delivery of the final script I will be working on during my tenure as one of the two Graduate Actor Interns at the Citz: the Caryl Churchill shorts Far Away and Seagull’s. The two roles I’ll be playing couldn’t be more different and both are rather text heavy, which, hitherto, has not been the case with my roles in either Sleeping Beauty or Dr Faustus (not that I’m complaining, mind). Naturally for a playwright who has been dubbed one of the finest living English Playwright’s the plays are fantastic! One is an apocalyptic fairy tale; the other a very sweet meeting of minds; both a lovely challenge. It will also mean that Lucy and I will be reunited once more after months apart the signing in board has looked like this for too long...
Dr Faustus’ is on at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, until the 27th April. For all tickets please contact the box office on 0141 429 0022 or book online at www.citz.co.uk.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

We're Back!!

The view from the Gods at the Citz
It has been three weeks since last I settled down to write about the company of actors bringing the trials and tribulations of Dr John Faustus to the stage and now, having returned to where we first started rehearsals nearly two months ago, tonight will be the official opening of Dr Faustus at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow!
The two weeks of rest was predominantly spent cleaning my dusty room and washing every piece of clothing I’d taken with me to Leeds. There was also a wee sojourn to London to see my friend Eve Ponsonby who is currently being amazing alongside Iain Glen and Tamsin Greig in William Boyd’s play Longing before finally returning to Scotland to catch fellow intern Lucy in Takin’ Over the Asylum in Edinburgh.
The company reunited again
We were brought back together again last Wednesday and to see everyone again was fantastic. By the end of the two weeks it felt like an eternity had passed since we last saw each other, Leah, who plays Wagner, had even managed to go to Budapest! We immediately began retrofitting the show for the Citz. We initially began to re-tech the show before our first preview Friday evening. We’ve since polished up certain bits, restored Marlowe’s epilogue which serves as a warning to those who choose to overreach their station. One of the interesting things that came out of previews is just how well the show suits the Citz stage. Due to just how vast the Quarry Theatre was and how far back the seats stretched to the set often seemed to exclude those members of the audience on the periphery and also meant that Kevin (Faustus) had to work very hard indeed to include everyone. In contrast, the stage at the Citz is so much more intimate. Dominic, our director, described it as a crucible space which will help to condense and retain the plays energy.
Needless to say, I’m rather excited about tonight. Press night must be incredibly scary if you’re playing Hamlet or some other famous titular character but for me I’m dead chuffed to be a) back at the Citz, and b) back on home turf. Above the stage at the Citz, looking down from the Proscenium arch are the four muses of the Theatre (you can see three of them in the picture at the top of this blog). In the epic poems and ancient plays of old you would invoke the Muses to provide inspiration and luck for the artistic endeavour about to be embarked upon.
And so in the tradition of times past, and ahead of the Press Night tonight I thought it would be rather apt to plagiarise that other great poet of old with that most famous of invocations of the Muses:
“O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!”

            William Shakespeare, Henry V, Act I, scene i

 Dr Faustus’ is on at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, from 5 Apr to 27 Apr. For all tickets please contact the box office on 0141 429 0022 or book online at www.citz.co.uk.