Friday, 24 March 2017

Matt Trueman talks to Rufus Norris, director of My Country; A Work in Progress

Brexit has split this country down the middle. Last summer’s EU referendum wasn’t merely a difference of opinion – 52% vs 48% – it exposed a rift running beneath. Britain seemed a deeply divided nation. The morning afterwards, heading into the National Theatre building, Parliament to the left, the City to the right, Rufus Norris knew the National Theatre had to address the issue.

But how does a national theatre – "a theatre for everyone," as it defines itself – deal with a divided nation? Who does it speak to? Who does it speak for? How can it cater for everyone?

"Generally, my tactic is to listen before I speak," Norris starts. That seemed like the only approach: "A listening project." Instead of commissioning a big Brexit play, some state of the nation drama, the National would ask people what they thought and how they felt. The result, only eight months later, is a new verbatim play – My Country; A Work in Progress.


National productions are usually cooked up over years. Merging journalism with theatre, verbatim plays allows a more rapid response – a mark of the urgency of this issue. Norris is, understandably, nervous. "By its nature, this has to be a bit rough and ready, but people are coming to see a piece of theatre. They – and we – want it to be as good as it can be."

My Country’s roots are in another project. A week after the referendum, soldiers took to the streets – not a coup, but a coup de théâtre. Marking the centenary of the Somme, The National worked with artist Jeremy Deller to send squadrons of young men in World War One uniforms into Britain’s town squares and railway stations. Commuters and school kids came face to face with history’s ghosts. People on both sides ran into a shared history. A divided Britain saw men that fought and died side by side. After the rancour of the referendum campaigns, We’re Here Because We’re Here provided a moment of reflection.

Not only did it seem to bring the country together, it showed that small interventions on a local level could achieve a national impact. What’s more, it meant Norris had the means to reach out. "We realised that one thing we had in our favour was all these contacts around the country," he remembers. Not to mention 1,400 volunteers "all of them saying ‘Alright, what’s next?"

The National put together a team of interviewers to engage members of their communities. It was vital that the project worked locally. "If I’d just rocked up and started asking questions, people would have told me where to go," Norris says straight-faced. He needed "people who could find a way in."


Their task was to engage a broad cross-section of society in conversation: men and women, young and old, leave and remain. "It was an open brief," insists Norris – no agenda. Find out what individuals really feel, not just how they voted; what’s important to them, what they want, what’s at stake; how they see their country. "It’s the personal stuff that’s really powerful," says Norris. "Where someone’s got a real connection to the politics they’re discussing."

That came surrounded by received information and misinformation. "Bullshit," Norris says, not mincing his words. "When you got onto subjects like the EU – what it pays for, what it doesn’t – nobody really knows." Dramatically, he says, that’s white noise. "You just switch off."

It’s a mark of the level of the debate: partisan media coverage with its own agendas, two sides spinning against each other, making promises, sowing Project Fear. It was nothing on the Scottish referendum, Norris reckons. "That felt like a very grown-up approach by comparison."


In theatre, the personal is political. My Country proves the point. "There are some fantastic analogies," says Norris. A Leicester pensioner describing a city changed beyond recognition. Derry residents discussing borders and division. Northumberland hill farmers who cut costs to keep up with globalisation and EU regulation. "They can still compete with New Zealand, but only if they use motorbikes to herd their flock. There’s this beautiful phrase: ‘You go up the hill and the sheep don’t know who you are.’" Norris reflects momentarily: "As an analogy for government, that feels spot on."

Throughout the campaign, one thought kept recurring - albeit only rarely spoken out loud. It's a position that puts quality of life above economic strength; services and infrastructure over GDP. "There are all kind of arguments," Norris explains, "but beneath them all it's about the breakdown of community."


Theatre can do community. It can work like an amplification device, giving volume to voices that might go unheard, but it can also bring people together in the same room. "It can do what bingo does; what school concerts and churches do. People congregate and when you congregate, you’ve got to deal with somebody else." For a society split down the middle, stuck in echo chambers online and in the real world, that’s a political act. It means, quite literally, sharing a space.

After a stint on the South Bank, My Country; A Work in Progress goes out on tour. It’s a step-change for the National: a shift from large-scale tours of big hits like War Horse or One Man, Two Guvnors, to something more intimate and conversational. "Partly," says Norris, "it’s about encouraging audiences to go to their local theatre, but it’s also about using theatre as a place of debate." Post-show talks will open up discussion and debates. Local communities will talk amongst themselves.


The first thing, though, is to listen. Norris insists that listening can be a gesture of leadership. "One thing everyone agrees on is that we’ve had poor leadership," he says, though, this being unchartered territory, he’s not surprised. "Who knows where we’re going? Maybe politicians need to admit that more. Maybe they need to listen more and to listen better."

Matt Trueman, February 2017

28 MAR - 1 APR

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

The Citizens is #boldforchange This International Women's Day

The Citizens Theatre has long been celebrated for its bold theatre programme at its home in the Gorbals. But the work we do extends out across Glasgow and beyond thanks to the dedicated Citizens Learning team.

Every week of the year the Citizens Learning team provides a range of opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds in Glasgow and beyond to get involved in the creative life of our Theatre and develop skills and self-confidence in an inclusive environment.  The team work with people with additional support needs, with people in prisons, in marginalised groups and disadvantaged communities.

To celebrate the Team's work and mark the Citizens' support of International Women's Day 2017, we'd like to introduce you to Elly.



Elly is a member of the Citizens Learning Team and works with lots of different groups, from young people in a school setting, adults experiencing homelessness, to those in the criminal justice sector and women seeking alternatives to custodial service.

One of the groups Elly works with is based in Garthamlock and their project, A Family Sentence, explores the impact of incarceration on family members.  Mothers, sisters and daughters come together with members of the Citizens Learning Team to explore the issues affecting them, and are encouraged to put their experiences into words. These words have been developed into a script which will be shared in performances both in the families' local community and at the Citizens Theatre itself in June.


 "We use theatre as a mechanism to give a voice to groups of people who are often unheard" Elly.






The group in Garthamlock is one of many projects in which Elly and the team are involved. Tomorrow`s Women, based in the Gorbals, is a unique Community Justice Centre for women who have been involved in offending behaviour. The service aims to ‘reduce reoffending and bring about behavioural change’ and offers individual and group support and a range of activities, including gardening, arts and crafts and a Theatre programme in partnership with the Citizens Theatre which will culminate in a performance at the Citizens Theatre in June.

Women who have participated in this programme have gone on to become volunteers within the centre, demonstrating not only the programme's effectiveness but also the desire of its participants to give something back.  Talking about the project, Team Leader Anne Gallacher said; "Our evidence demonstrates a clear pattern of positive outcomes with significantly reduced reoffending, reduced court appearances, reduced prison time, reduced A&E attendance, reduced drug and alcohol use, improved physical and mental wellbeing, improved access to accommodation, re-engaging with families and access to learning and employment"


For many years the Citizens Leaning team have worked with women's groups in the community and have continued to be encouraged by the possibilities that the theatre process can bring to an environment.


Elly adds "We generate a safe space within which the women can air opinions, so lifting the lid on important topics that affect them and therefore reinforcing a shared female commonality. By sharing our stories and life experiences through the power of Drama, our work encourages group members to reconnect with play as an adult andtapping into the power of creativity"


The Chara Centre is a respite centre offering shelter to vulnerable women experiencing complex needs and homelessness. The Citizens Learning team has delivered a series of weekly creative sessions in the centre since June 2012, nurturing women’s creative talent and supporting the women to develop transferable skills to help them back into independent living.



Female residents of the centre meet with Elly and other members of the Learning Team twice a week to take part in song writing, textile print-work, visual art, creative writing and drama. “The Citizens Theatre people have been great. They’ve brought me out of my shell and they help people relax and be themselves.” (Chara Centre participant).  Sharing their performance work with invited audiences has become a highlight and regular feature at the centre and the group recently published the second edition of their magazine, ‘The C Word’, written by and for women experiencing homelessness.

We believe that our artistic intervention has generated positive change and personal development and it continues to explore the relationship that the women have with the Citizens Theatre. We are very pleased to say that quite a number of our participants regularly attend main stage shows at the Citizens. 


"It is vital that the arts are fully recognised for the part they have to play within our communities, for the tools they provide to those who seek to take charge of and rebuild their lives. It is important that we see people as people, and not defined by the restrictive labels we often assign to them. These projects and performances have shown that the women we are fortunate to collaborate with, are capable of truly astonishing and inspiring journeys in personal development, making themselves better placed to step forward into self-determined life paths filled with positivity, and hope", Elly.


Everyone is welcome to take part in Citizens Learning projects, classes and productions including people from minority ethnic backgrounds, those seeking asylum or refuge, those out of work or striving to recover from drug and alcohol dependency.  We warmly invite you to take part in the creative life of the Citizens Theatre.

The work the Citizens Theatre Learning Team does is generously supported through funding from:

·      Chara Centre supported by Comic Relief
·      Tomorrow’s Women supported by Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Community Justice Authority, Glasgow Housing Association, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and the Scottish Prison Service
·      A Family Sentence in partnership with New College Lanarkshire funded by Creative Scotland Open Fund

Thursday, 2 March 2017

We're a beastly family and I hate us!

Our co-production with the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh of Noël Coward's riotous farce Hay Fever opens at the Lyceum this week. With that in mind, we thought it was time to introduce you to the outrageous and bohemian Bliss family...


Hover over the characters in the image below to find out more. 





















Find out more about the origins of this eccentric family and why Artistic Director Dominic Hill loves this Noël Coward farce so much 




Book now

HAY FEVER

ROYAL LYCEUM THEATRE EDINBURGH 10 MAR - 1 APR

CITIZENS THEATRE 5 - 22 APR



Tuesday, 14 February 2017

The stars are out tonight! Cuttin' A Rug reviews roundup

Cuttin' A Rug opened to the press on Friday 10 February, and it's a hit!
Ryan Fletcher, Scott Fletcher, Paul James Corrigan. Credit Tim Morozzo

To the sounds of rock 'n' roll band Cutting A Rug our foyer was jumping with excitement for opening night. 
Cutting A Rug

"Byrne’s observational comedy comes up smiling bright in this revival” ★★★★
The Herald 
“a wonderful baroque pattern of jest and allusion, longing, bathos and hilarity” ★★★★
The Scotsman
“the Citizens team manages to blow up a storm in their new production of Cuttin’ a Rug” ★★★★
Reviews Hub 
Mark Barrett, Ryan Fletcher, Louise McCarthy, Helen Mallon. Credit Tim Morozzo
"unmissable" ★★★★★ 
 Attitude 
“A highly recommended riotous romp with laughs abounding, this peek into a bygone era will warm the cockles of your heart” ★★★★
The Mumble 


Mark Barrett Louise McCarthy. Credit Tim Morozzo.

Come and enjoy this night out for yourself - you've got until Saturday 4 March to catch it at the Citz, then we take a roadtrip to King's Theatre Edinburgh from 7 - 11 March.

Friday, 27 January 2017

All the times we've Cut A Rug

The Slab Boys trilogy is a coming-of-age story that is recognised around the world and a modern piece of Scottish theatre history. 

Cuttin' A Rug might be set in Paisley Town Hall on a particular evening in 1957, but it's not only a play 'about' working class Scotland in the mid-20th-century. 

Cuttin' A Rug casts in 1987 and 2017
The play was hailed at its premiere at the Traverse Theatre in 1978 for its joyful and hilarious celebration of Scottish cultural identity and working class life and the play certainly depicts real life and real people, but does so whilst utilising theatrical and poetic language, farce, and dealing with some large and universal themes. 
Ryan Fletcher as Phil and  Mark Barrett and Terry in rehearsals for Cuttin' A Rug. 


Teenage rebellion, the decline of industry and the impact that has on communities' and individuals' identities, the pervasiveness of American culture, and the importance and fragility of dreams and goals are all touched on in the trilogy. Sound familiar?

The 1978 premiere was directed by David Hayman and starred Billy McColl and Jim Byars as Phil and Spanky, with Robbie Coltrane as 'Plooky' Jack Hogg. Also in the cast were Ida Schuster as Sadie the tea lady, always on hand with a Cream Cookie and Elaine Collins, wife of Peter Capaldi and now ITV drama producer.

Original The Slab Boys production. Courtesy of The Traverse Theater

Like many a west coast émigré The play even made it across the pond to New York, where Kevin Bacon, Sean Penn and Val Kilmer practised their best Paisley accents in 1983.

Production shot from the 1983 Broadway production of The Slab Boys starring Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon and Val Kilmer. 
When The Slab Boys director David Hayman later worked with Kevin Bacon on the movie Where the Truth Lies, Bacon told him that The Slab Boys was one of the highlights of his career.

Meanwhile, back in Scotland, the play was revived at the Traverse during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1982. As well as returning to direct the play, David Hayman joined the cast as Phil with the late Gerard Kelly playing Spanky.
Gerard Kelly and David Hayman in the 1982 production of The Slab Boys
In 1997, Film 4 turned the stage play into a film, starring Robin Laing and Russell Barr with Julie Wilson Nimmo, Barbara Rafferty and Ford Kiernan also taking roles. Barbara returns to the trilogy in our new production of Cuttin' A Rug



In 2015, David Hayman returned to The Slab Boys to direct a new production at the Citizens Theatre designed by John Byrne, marking the first time that he and John Byrne had worked together since the play was first presented. Hayman also returning to the Citizens stage that he's so familiar with, though he'd graduated from the slab room to the position of the gaffer Willie Currie. 

David Hayman as Willie Curry and Jamie Quinn as Spanky. Credit Tim Morozzo
Caroline Paterson who directs the 2017 production of Cuttin' A Rug has a long association with the play, having played the part of Lucille in productions of The Slab Boys starring Robert Carlyle and Alan Cumming, and received acclaim for her direction of the trilogy for Rain Dog starring Gerard Kelly, Andy Gray, Barbara Rafferty and David Hayman.  
Caroline Paterson and Alan Cumming in The Slab Boys at Dundee Rep 
Talking about returning to the play with which she has such a long association, Paterson said: “I was 17 when I was first introduced to the Slab Boys plays, the same age as the characters. It was the first time I had seen a play that represented me, and I completely identified with them and their sense of humour.  I'm delighted that the Citizens is giving a new generation the chance to see Cuttin’ A Rug and feel extremely fortunate to be asked to direct. The plays are very close to my heart and inspired me to become an actor. They are Scotland's treasure and I look forward to seeing the next generation of teenagers enjoying these plays.”

Director Caroline Paterson takes a break from rehearsals. Credit Alex Brady. 

Not only is Cuttin' A Rug an important piece of Scottish theatrical history, it's also a great night out. Designer Kenny Miller will be re-creating a retro 50's night out with circle skirts, sharp suits and plenty of chicken grease to keep those DA hairdo's sleek.

Pick up a bargain £9.50 preview ticket, one of our £12.50 Tuesday tickets, or get yourself along to our 50p Ticket Sale on Saturday 4 February and come and Cut A Rug!

CITIZENS THEATRE 8 FEB - 4 MAR

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Cuttin' A Rug: Adventures in Paisley

Rehearsals for Cuttin' A Rug, the second instalment of John Byrne's much-loved Slab Boys trilogy, kicked off this weekSet on one evening in 1957 in Paisley's stunning Town Hall, Cuttin' A Rug picks up right where we left Phil, Spanky and rest of the Stobo & Co gang as they get ready for the annual staff dance.

Director Caroline Paterson (who herself has appeared in and directed The Slab Boys plays) took the team on a wee outing to Paisley for a tour of the Town Hall and the cast even enjoyed a spin on the ballroom floor!

 Cuttin' A Rug - Citizens Theatre - citz.co.uk
L-R Assistant Director Izzie Milne Turner, Scott Fletcher (Hector), Anne Lacey (Mrs Walkinshaw), Laurie Ventry (Willie Curry), Louise McCarthy (Bernadette), Mark Barrett (Terry), Paul-James Corrigan (Spanky), Ryan Fletcher (Phil), Helen Mallon (Lucille) and Shaun Miller (Alan). Image by Shiona Walker. 
Our lovely tour guide Fiona showed us the beautiful ballroom and the balcony where much of the story unfolds, while Caroline shared lots of exciting ideas about her vision of the show ahead of opening at the Citizens Theatre in February.

 Cuttin' A Rug - Citizens Theatre - citz.co.uk

 Cuttin' A Rug - Citizens Theatre - citz.co.uk

 Cuttin' A Rug - Citizens Theatre - citz.co.uk

After our tour we had a quick press call in front of the Town Hall in support of Paisley's bid to be UK City of Culture in 2021. Speaking about her visit Caroline said "I'm very excited about the company being in Paisley as John originally set the play in the Town Hall. I really want this production to be a celebration of Paisley and also John's work. I'm overjoyed about the [UK city of Culture 2021] bid as I think Paisley's history and people make it a special place." 

After a busy morning it was time to head back to the Citz to carry on rehearsals! 

 Cuttin' A Rug - Citizens Theatre - citz.co.uk
Back row: Mark Barrett (Terry), Laurie Ventry (Willie Curry), Shaun Miller (Alan), Paul-James Corrigan (Spanky), Ryan Fletcher (Phil). Front row: Helen Mallon (Lucille), Anne Lacey (Mrs Walkinshaw), Scott Fletcher (Hector), Director Caroline Paterson,  Louise McCarthy (Bernadette). Image by Shiona Walker. 
Cuttin' A Rug is at the Citz from 8 Feb - 4 Mar, followed by a week-long stint at the King's Theatre, Edinburgh 7 Mar - 10 Mar. 

Cuttin' A Rug - part 2 of The Slab Boys trilogy - citz.co.uk

Friday, 18 November 2016

Please Don’t Stop the Music… Musings on Week 2 of Hansel and Gretel

By Assistant Director Izzie Milne Turner

Hansel & Gretel at the Citizens Theatre - citz.co.uk

Sound is the beating heart of our Christmas show, Hansel & Gretel. Dominic loves live music in this theatre. Our Macedonian composer, Nikola Kodjabashia, is one of Dominic’s favoured collaborators. They have previously worked together on A Christmas Carol, This Restless House and Crime and Punishment.

Hansel & Gretel at the Citizens Theatre - citz.co.uk
Image by Tim Morozzo
One of the reasons that Dominic enjoys working with Nikola, is that he has a lively and eccentric attitude toward music. For the first music session for Hansel & Gretel Nikola brought in an eclectic assortment of instruments including a drum kit, double bass, bells, shakers, Piano, keyboard, and a Timpani drum. Nikola gets everyone in the cast to play something- regardless of their musical experience: beating out a drum pattern, plucking the double bass, or hitting a rusty triangle. He encourages the notion that playing music is not just for the trained, sheet music type, but open to anyone with a bit of courage and imagination.

Hansel & Gretel at the Citizens Theatre - citz.co.uk
Image by Izzie Milne Turner
Dominic isn’t interested in piped-in sound made outside of the rehearsal room - he wants a natural evolution between the drama and the music. He reminds me, “Theatre is not film”. In film, music is layered on at the end but in theatre we have the opportunity for the theatre making and music to work hand in hand, for the collaboration to be alive and tangible. The scenes are often rehearsed against the sound of instruments being plucked, drummed and bowed.

Hansel & Gretel at the Citizens Theatre - citz.co.uk
Image by Tim Morozzo
What happens in the story and the scenes informs the compositions - and vice versa - the soundscape provides an imaginative setting for the actors - a rich atmosphere for them to immerse themselves in and play off. Nikola has composed an elegant, haunting gypsy melody that recurs in the story in different arrangements (piano, accordion, fairground organ). It’s a real earworm - I often find myself humming it on my way to and from rehearsals!

Hansel & Gretel at the Citizens Theatre - citz.co.uk
Image by Izzie Milne Turner
In our rehearsal room sound doesn’t just mean songs - it has many forms. We use it to illustrate the subconscious, suspense, jeopardy, and the howling wind and rain. It’s the texture and the fabric of the world we are building. And it isn’t always sweet and pretty - it’s contradictory - traversing between soft and rough, light and dark, smooth and broken.

Hansel & Gretel at the Citizens Theatre - citz.co.uk
Image by Tim Morozzo
We love mics. Everyone, at some point, jumps on a microphone to gasp or chew and swallow. Sometimes to do what Nikola calls “gossiping voices” - ominously whispering words from the text like “spoilt”, “lazy” or “punished”. The mics create disembodied voices that brilliantly evoke the supernatural elements of Hansel and Gretel’s world.

After a week with instruments in the rehearsal room, I’ve learnt that sound can release and elevate scenes. A few oriental minor chords, combined with a droning note and a soft beat on the Timpani create the gloom of the forest. A few classical dance chords on the piano create a joyful snow fight. The crashing of a Timpani herald the arrival of a giant. At the end of the week the actors finally set down the instruments and there is silence - the stillness in the eye of the storm.

Join me next week, when I’ll be discussing some of our key staging choices!

6 Dec - 7 Jan

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Spring into 2017 at the Citz

We're beyond excited about our programme of work for Spring 2017. With a new production of Graham Greene’s Travels With My Aunt, a Brexit-inspired production from the National Theatre of Great Britain and shows from top theatre companies Cheek by Jowl and Kneehigh there's something for everyone in our newly-announced Spring 2017 Season - on sale now!

Citizens Theatre Spring 2017 season - citz.co.uk

Speaking exclusively to The Herald, Artistic Director Dominic Hill spoke of the Spring 2017 season: "There's a lot of celebration of theatre in this season about what theatre can bring to people. The way the world is at the moment, I think there's no harm in trying to find some joy."

Read on to find out more about the fantastic shows we've got coming up at your local theatre from January - June 2017.

THE WINTERS TALE 24 - 28 Jan
Cheek by Jowl tackle the countless hairpin turns in Shakespeare’s late masterpiece, from violence to farce, through multiple countries and over the course of 16 years, in a fiercely contemporary production.

Director Declan Donnellan and his cast take up Shakespeare’s most fundamental questions about redemption and forgiveness, testing the limits of hope and humanity in this tour-de-force interpretation. 

CUTTIN' A RUG 8 Feb - 4 Mar
Following our 2015 production of The Slab Boys, we'll be presenting the second installment of John Byrne’s much-loved trilogy, Cuttin’ A Rug. The play dives straight back in to the story, following the boys to the annual staff dance, still chasing the unobtainable Lucille and their dreams of life beyond the slab room.

SOMEWHERE NEW 2 - 4 Mar
A new festival of contemporary performance will take place in venues across Glasgow in Spring 2017 and we'll be hosting a Scottish artist with a new piece of work in our Circle Studio in March.

More information about the Somewhere New award recipient will be available in December.
 
MY COUNTRY: A WORK IN PROGRESS  28 Mar - 1 Apr
The National Theatre of Great Britain has collaborated with seven UK theatre companies, including the Citizens Theatre, to talk to people across the country about the recent EU referendum.

The interviews will be woven together by poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy and National Theatre Artistic Director Rufus Norris to create a performance piece that will tour the country presenting the wide range of opinions that have been captured.

NOËL COWARD'S HAY FEVER 5- 22 Apr
The various members of the eccentric Bliss family have each invited a guest to stay at their idyllic rural retreat. The house party turns disastrous as the hapless visitors become playthings in the Bliss’ self-made melodrama.

Dominic Hill will direct this funny and biting exploration of the games people play to avoid confronting the realities of life.


TRAVELS WITH MY AUNT 3 - 20 May
Retired bank manager and dahlia enthusiast Henry Pulling becomes newly acquainted with his septuagenarian Aunt Augusta at his mother’s funeral. Unable to resist the well-travelled Augusta’s powers of persuasion, Henry leaves suburban London with his new relative on a curiously glamourous trip across the world.

Giles Havergal’s hilarious adaptation of Graham Greene’s novel returns to the Citz having first being performed here in 1989. Director Phillip Breen returns to the Citz having previously directed True West, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg and The Caretaker.

TRISTAN & YSEULT 30 May - 3 Jun
Kneehigh make their first visit to the Citizens Theatre with their playful and profound version of the ancient Cornish legend of fated lovers.

Circus performers, poetry, audience participation and live music spanning mambo, ballad, punk and opera are mashed together in this landmark production which has won fans across the world.

What are you most excited to see in our new session? Tweet us with #CitzSpringSeason to let us know! 


Tickets for all productions in our Spring 2017 season are available now to book online, or by calling our box office on 0141 429 0022. 

Monday, 14 November 2016

And So It Begins…Reflections on Week 1 of Hansel & Gretel Rehearsals

by Assistant Director Izzie Milne Turner



The first day of rehearsals is nerve wracking. Big challenges, new faces, and far too many names! On day 1 of Hansel & Gretel the room was packed to the brim: actors, creative team, crew and stage management all seated to witness the read through as our Christmas 2016 cast read Stuart Paterson's inventive adaptation of Hansel & Gretel aloud. It was a chance for the cast, creatives and crew to all be in the same room together before we all split off into our separate busy worlds for the next few weeks!


Our set designer and puppet master Rachael Canning unveiled the model box for Hansel & Gretel to gasps of delight. Her design embraced the carnivalesque world of the 1920's travelling circus - packed with rich visual treats and surprises. In true Citz style, Hansel & Gretel will be a complex and eccentric Christmas show - an exciting and tumultuous world of acrobats, magic forests and sorcery.



Citizens Theatre Artistic Director and Hansel & Gretel Director Dominic Hill was keen to get the cast up and moving. And once we got up we never sat down. The cast spent the rest of the week trying out things on their feet. Benedicte Seierup and Lucien Macdougal - the production’s talented and joyful movement directors - led several clowning workshops this week. These sessions were very physical and playful. It’s been wonderful to witness how these workshops have fostered a supportive and spirited ensemble that listen to each other, laugh with each other and bring the crackling energy a Christmas show like Hansel & Gretel needs.


On Wednesday Rachael led a puppetry workshop. Puppets will be an integral part of Hansel & Gretel’s world so the cast must be skilled at using them with grace and precision. Rachael taught us how to bring a puppet to life through breath, posture and by seeing the puppet as an extension of yourself, never separate. It was a great exercise in concentration and sensitivity.


As you can see a lot happened in week one: we broke the ice, learnt new skills and shared many laughs. In week two we’ve begun to explore the vibrant musical world of Hansel & Gretel, led by composer Nikola Kodjabashia and his impressive collection of instruments! Stay tuned for more on that in the next post!

6 Dec - 7 Jan


Thursday, 10 November 2016

The Rivals arrives on the Citz stage

The Rivals have arrived on the Citz stage bringing with them sky-scraping wigs and decadent dresses. Oh, and some sheep...


Here’s a quick round up of the brilliant reviews the show has had since arriving here at the Citz: 

A glorious half-century of theatre history at the Citizens’ seems to have gone into the making of Dominic Hill’s exhilarating new production of Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s great 1775 comedy of manners.” ★★★★★ The Scotsman

Henry Everett and Lee Mengo.  Photo by Mark Douet
The dialogue simply crackles with wit, and much thought has gone into the clever set design... highlighting the high production values and distinctive “house style” emerging from the Citizens in the last few seasons. So what seems like a witty, energetic romp has, on a closer look, its own depths and a message for our own times.” ★★★★½ Reviews Hub

If ever there was a play more perfectly suited to accommodate the Citizens Theatre's Artistic Director Dominic Hill's stylistic penchant for turning a play visibly inside out...  Richard Brinsley Sheridan's eighteenth century comedy of manners is hard to beat.” ★★★★ The Herald

"It is almost 250 years since Irish playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan penned The Rivals but clever direction has kept it fresh and pawky. The actors hurtled through the script like an express train yet not one nuance was lost... Genuinely there wasn’t a single below par performance from any of this 11-strong cast. This may be a period comedy but there is nothing modern in the country to rival it at the moment."  ★★★★ The Daily Record

Jessica Hardwick and Lucy Briggs-Owen. Photo by Mark Douet
The Rivals is a co-production with our friends at Bristol Old Vic and Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse. Critics and audiences across UK agree – it's a show you won’t want to miss!

“In its bold casualness it’s ingenious and insouciant, observing the time-honoured subversive spirit of the play and ensuring that everything feels like it’s happening in the moment” The Telegraph ★★★★★

“The Rivals is an uproarious production with a script as sharp as ever, bolstered by a terrific cast” Bristol Post ★★★★★

“True to Sheridan and alive to today, this is a delight” The Times ★★★★

“fun in spades” WhatsOnStage ★★★★


There’s still time to nab yourself a ticket, plus we’ve got some special one-off events planned in the coming weeks:
Come along on Tuesday 15 November for a post-show talk. Stay after the performance for a chance to put questions to the cast and hear more about the show.
If a matinee is more your style, then why not come along to Tea & Scandal: The Rivals Lunch on Saturday 19 November at 12.30pm. Director Dominic Hill will share the gossip about how he staged this 18th century comedy and discuss the enduring appeal of Sheridan’s masterpiece.


The Rivals is on stage at the Citizens Theatre until 19 Nov 2016