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

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