Monday, 22 February 2010

And the beat goes on...

Some more press reactions to Backbeat.

“Scenes charting the lads' transitions from upturned-denim youth to black-leathered experience are bridged by fast and furious sets in seedy clubs where hard days' nights hone their rock'n'roll skills. The fresh-faced actor-musicians are touching as embryonic incarnations of the legends.”
The Observer

“Fine casting, smart design, and, of course, an unbeatable musical score.”
Sunday Herald



“Andrew Knott (stepping into the not inconsiderable shoes of Ian Hart, who plays Lennon in the film) encapsulates the contradictions of a young working-class man, whose swaggering machismo sits uncomfortably beside a near obsession with Sutcliffe. At once cocky and insecure, Knott is the very image of the talented teenager emerging painfully into adulthood.”
Sunday Herald

“A big part of its success is the kinetic thrill of watching a live band belting out early rock’n’roll classics like Twist and Shout, Johnny B. Goode and Roll Over Beethoven on stage. But the artful direction and excellent cast – notably The History Boys’ Andrew Knott as a sharp-tongued but hopelessly insecure Lennon, and Alex Robertson as the talented tormented Sutcliffe – play a big part.”
News of the World

“Writer-Director Iain Softley’s stage adaptation of his 1994 film…is even better than the original…It’s powerful emotional drama and it feels made for this kind of setting. We can’t recommend it highly enough.”
News of the World

Read audience comments or post your own on our website. The show runs until 6 March.

Hx

It's about being a citizen of the world

In just over a week we open My Name Is Rachel Corrie, a powerful play about a young peace activist who died in Palestine in 2003. In 2006, Jackie McGlone spoke to Alan Rickman, who discovered the story and edited the play (along with Guardian editor Katharine Viner). The following comes from an article in the Scotsman:

“Rickman read Rachel's e-mails in the newspaper. "Two things stick in my mind: one was that the writing didn't feel as if it wanted to be trapped on a page for ever, it wanted to be spoken. The second is, I might not have read that paper, just as I haven't got round to reading one today - I might not have known," he says, trying to imagine the unimaginable.



Immediately, he left his home in west London and went to the Royal Court to suggest to Ian Rickson, the artistic director, that they should do something with it. "Then Rachel's parents arrived in London. They were a bit dazed, not just by what had happened to their daughter, but because this theatre was saying, 'We want to do a play based on her writings.' But they are remarkable people. There was never any bitterness or anger, only reasonableness and a desire for justice - because there has never been an investigation into Rachel's death."



The Corries gave Rickman "everything" - Rachel's school notebooks, jottings, diaries, poems. "We got 182 pages, from the time she was 12 up to the Gaza e-mails. I went to the Corries' home, in Washington, and spent time with them. 'Don't put her on a pedestal,' they said to me. But I was always concerned that this would not be a 90-minute polemic. You come, you make up your own mind," he says. "Of course, when Cindy and Craig saw the play, they were like human waterfalls."


Rehearsal photos of Mairi Phillips as "Rachel Corrie" by Tim Morozzo

When I saw the production, I veered between wanting to shake Rachel for her naivety and wanting to embrace this "scattered and deviant and loud" young woman for her intelligence, spirit, honesty and courage.
"I'm so glad you felt that, because that's exactly how I hope audiences will feel," responds Rickman. "This isn't a play about Palestine or Israel, it's about being a citizen of the world."”

Rickman, who had one of his first major stage roles at the Citizens Theatre, also reminisces about the theatre “They changed all our lives”.


You can read the full article here.

My Name Is Rachel Corrie will be at the Citizens from 2-20 March 2010.

Hx

Friday, 19 February 2010

When Alan met Stanley

So it's a week before payday, if you're anything like me, you'll be living the quiet life and conserving money. Our suggestion for some rather interesting free entertainment this weekend, is a show on BBC2 tomorrow night (Sat 20th at 8.15pm), called "When Alan Cumming met Stanley Baxter"...which we're quite excited to see.

As part of this interview, Alan, who has acted with TAG (our children and young people's theatre company) many moons ago, was quoted in the Daily Record:

“People say to me ,‘It must be your dream come true to work on a Hollywood movie?’ I say, no, it was my dream to work at the Citizens.”

It's not everyday we get such wonderful compliments from Hollywood stars.

Thanks Alan! We'll be tuned in.

Hx

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Backbeat, the word is on the street

You know I've been itching to use that title since we started this production!! Had to be done. The word is well and truly on the street. We have been delighted with the amount of mentions we've been getting on Twitter, Facebook and other media. Plus loads of you have been leaving comments and star ratings on our website. I've posted a couple below, but you can read the rest here.

"The best piece of live theatre I've seen - and, being ages with the Beatles, I've seen plenty. All round brilliance, and amazing musical skills from this group of actors. I must see it again! Annie C"

"My son is just discovering the Beatles and was totally enthralled by the production, the singing and the touching storyline. Do yourself a favour, and get along to the Citizen's to see Backbeat before it becomes 'bigger than Jesus Christ!' Robert Mcaulay"

...we didn't pay them to say all these nice things, honest!!


Production photography by Richard Campbell

So what have the press been saying?

“For the show to have a chance of working, Softley has to convince us of the lost genius of Sutcliffe the painter, as well as the primitive potential of a band that would redefine popular music. Softley does an impressive job on both counts.”
Guardian

"Sutcliffe and his bandmates kick up a credible musical racket, all jangly guitars and chirpy harmonies, as they storm their way through Johnny B Goode, Please Mr Postman and other period standards...Backbeat gives a convincing impression of the raw sound of early 60s rock'n'roll."
Guardian

“Isabella Calthorpe, as Astrid, all in black, blonde hair in a serious bob, is even more beautiful and enigmatic than the original...Alex Robertson makes a handsome and moody Sutcliffe. ”
The Times

"the band is tight and the excitement is bubbling under.”
The Times

"The tug of love between Sutcliffe, Lennon and Astrid reflects Sutcliffe's own split between art and rock'n'roll. Even more pertinent the ship grey walls at the back of the stage indicate the drabness of post war Britain, lit up in turn by re-light-district neon and the colours literally exploding inside Sutcliffe's head.”
The Herald

“The production uses non Beatles-written songs to drive a plot that slips between Liverpool and Hamburg. Christopher Oram’s excellent sliding door set hints at the Berlin Wall, while using projections and lighting wisely to facilitate the story’s slick passage.”
The Stage

"Isabella Calthorpe is stunning as Kirchherr”

The Stage

"A production which has enough knowing winks to keep Beatles fans happy, music to keep it pumping along and which makes sense of that most unfashionable of concepts, that art can be created for its own sake, not solely in the pursuit of fame.”

The Stage

Full reviews: Guardian, The Times, The Stage. (NB. The Herald not yet found online)

You can see a video of audience reaction on YouTube and some exclusive shots of our opening night on Flickr. Don't forget to leave your comments on our website if you see the show.

Hx

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Neil LaBute on the thrill of short plays

Following on from Neil's 5 Reasons to Love Short Plays, here's a more indepth piece:

"Why do we even bother writing short plays these days? I’m not sure but I keep doing it with an alarming regularity. It’s certainly not to make money or win fans or gain fame, no, I return to this form of dramatic writing in the same way climbers return to the most dangerous faces of certain mountains - because it’s there. And not just because it’s there but because it looks so damn simple standing on the ground - it’s terrifyingly tricky once you’re up there, though. To tell a fully rounded story within a few pages, with characters and plot and conflict, is no easy thing and this is what draws me back time and again. Like a long distance runner who is asked to fill in for a sprinter at the last minute, you find yourself using a whole different set of muscles that you didn’t know you had. Each word begins to count enormously in the whole and bits of exposition start to stand out like neon signposts when you find yourself limited to a handful of pages. But it’s great exercise and terrifically precise work that is hugely satisfying when you get it right. You can go crazy trying, but hey, that’s half the fun of it.



Do these plays represent me ‘getting it right?’ Hell if I know; I suppose that’s for you to decide. I love the form of “Land of the Dead,” where characters break the fourth wall and directly address the audience. It’s the great secret weapon of the theater, the monologue and its ability to directly confront the viewer, and I love it. “Helter Skelter” is a more conventional drama from a structural standpoint, but its message is as old as the Greeks. It is a primal scream about injustice and children and lost love and in the hands of the right actors it makes even my hair stand on end (no easy thing for a man born with a curly mane). The plays were not written as companion pieces but because of the pregnancy theme that runs through both LAND OF THE DEAD and HELTER SKELTER, I recently went back to the newest play of the three, THE FURIES, and added a 'birth' element to connect the trilogy together more solidly and because of this I feel they work conveniently and eerily well together. “Land of the Dead,” in fact, was written for a benefit the year after 9/11. HELTER SKELTER was written to help a pregnant German actress have a vehicle that would allow her back onto the stage during her second trimester and THE FURIES was composed for a wonderful new programme of dinner theater taking place in New York City called "Eating Their Words." Vastly different reasons for their creation, then, but played together as a single event I think the three short plays work smashingly well with an audience and do the very thing that I always strive for as a writer: get people laughing, then make that laugh stick in their throats. if that doesn't work, immediately kick them in the stomach. enjoy. repeat.

There is a common love of language that I share with English audiences. From experience I am now confident that there is no place too dark or too wordy for UK theatergoers to follow me to—the main and perhaps only criteria is that the work is good and singular, and above all, necessary. The same qualities I strive for every time I sit down with my little notepad in some corner of a room as I scribble away, watching another ‘useless’ short play spill out of my pen. So it goes.

Neil LaBute"

Neil LaBute's Triple Bill will be at the Citz next week (from 16-20 February).

Hx

Read about Neil LaBute on Wikipedia.

Stuart Sutcliffe - BBC footage

As you can imagine there is an unfathomable amount of Beatles videos on YouTube, not least those which we've been adding for Backbeat, but I had a bit of a browse and came across a series of posts showing "Stuart Sutcliffe: The Lost Beatle".

I embedded the first part of this below. It's a fascinating insight into Stuart's life. You can click through to YouTube to see the rest in the series.

Be warned, if you don't know the story, are coming to see Backbeat and would prefer to be surprised, don't watch this. Plus, I'm not entirely sure they're allowed to post this, so watch it while you can!



Hx

P.S. Just found out that if you search for The Beatles in YouTube, currently our "Becoming the Beatles" video is listed first. Too cool.

Friday, 5 February 2010

5 reasons to love short plays - by Neil LaBute

In February we're lucky enough to have two companies bringing evenings of short plays to the Citizens. Alan Bissett's double-bill runs next week and the week after we have a triple-bill from none other than celebrated playwright, screenwriter and film director, Neil LaBute.


Cast: Stuart Laing, Frances Grey and Patrick Driver

In preparation for Dialogue Productions bringing The Furies, Land of The Dead and Helter Skelter to the Citz, Neil told us 5 reasons why he believes "short is sweet:

1/ It’s a high performance challenge. I return to this form of dramatic writing in the same way climbers return to the most dangerous faces of certain mountains – because it looks so damn simple standing on the ground – and it’s terrifyingly tricky once you’re up there.

2/ You find yourself using a whole different set of muscles that you didn’t know you had, like a long distance runner who is asked to fill in for a sprinter at the last minute.
Each word begins to count enormously when you find yourself limited to a handful of pages.

3/ It’s terrifically precise work that is hugely satisfying when you get it right. You can go crazy trying, but hey, that’s half the fun of it.

4/ You cover a lot of ground. This trilogy goes from dark comedy to Greek tragedy, making even my hair stand on end (no easy thing for a man born with a curly mane).

5/ Shorts pack a condensed punch. These three plays work smashingly well with an audience and do the very thing that I always strive for as a writer: get people laughing, then make that laugh stick in their throats. If that doesn't work, immediately kick them in the stomach. Enjoy. Repeat."



Neil LaBute Triple Bill 16-20 February 2010

Hx