Gareth K Vile offers his first take on what's happening in Scotland's culture scene.
It might be a way away, but I am already getting excited about the Pavilion’s pantomime. Hitting back at the SECC’s coup in attracting the Krankies back to Glasgow – following their dramatic tumble from the beanstalk a few years back, that particular marital conundrum have been absence during the Yuletide frenzy - the Pavilion has contracted TV funny-man Jim Davidson as Robin Hood. The presence of TV homosexuals Colin and Justin as his “merry men” is just too tempting.
In the immediate future, rising star Leann O’Kasi hits The Tron as both actor and writer of Dirty Paradise. After an apprenticeship at the Citizens, which led to her stunning direction of Top Dog Underdog, O’Kasi has been developing an impressive career at Andy Arnold’s venue, both as performer and director. Part of the Mental Health Arts and Film Festival, Dirty Paradise was inspired by a short story by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and reunites her with her previous mentor, Alison Peebles.
If critical advocacy can imitate the superior art of racing journalism, the odds on Dirty Penetration are worth a punt. Peebles is one of Glasgow’s greats – her recent involvement with .... is a reminder of how she can turn out iconic performances, and her directing career reaches back to the golden years of Tramway, when a generation of artists were inspired by the space and its programming to develop ambition, large scale productions. O’Kasi is one of Scottish theatres most promising prospects: when the Citizens persuaded her to abandon her East London home for the West Coast, it attracts a formidable intelligence and sensitivity north. The influence of magic realism suggests that this Paradise will build on O’Kasi’s community engagement for a work that encompasses both the mystical and natural to explore an individual’s attempt to grapple with mysterious inner voices.
It’s splendid that the SMHAFF 2010 is willing to support plays that don’t take a literal line on issues: as the recent revivals of both Blackwatch and Interiors made clear, it is quite possible for a play to be both naturalistic and surreal. This particular blending is characteristic of theatre - the unreality of the stage lends itself to iconic or symbolic statements – and the physical presence of a performer is always more emotionally engaging than the flat screen of either film or TV.
Then again, there is always the frisson of seeing an actor from the screen on stage. As the IETM draws closer, and the meaning of the initials becomes no less obscure, the programme has finally been released. One highlight is Tam Dean Burn working with the RSAMD for Gilgamesh, an epic staging of humankind’s earliest story. Dean Burn became most famous for his definitive portrayal of a River City hard man, even though his theatrical credits, including a relatively recent star turn in Pinter’s The Caretaker and his own political monologue Year of the Horse, are impressive enough. In the flesh, he is a ball of energy, shaking off his mantle of elder statesman to restlessly experiment. An actor who could make his living from TV preferring to tread the boards? That brings us right back to Jim Davidson....