Thursday, 13 December 2012

The Bridge

Is a life defined by football colours? The Erskine Bridge is the starting point for this drama about two people who fall in love despite the difficulties inner city life throw at them. Starring Andi Rossetter and Beth Frieden. Edited by Neil Anderson. Written by Neil Scott.
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Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Theatre as Part of the Radical’s Repertoire in Scotland


by Beth Frieden



What is the place of radical theatre in Scotland today? You sometimes hear people talk about theatre as a bourgeois pasttime only available to posh privately-educated toffs.  For sure, going to see a play is usually more expensive than going to see a film, although not always (certainly not if you get a 50p ticket to a production at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow).  But there are also various traditions of class-conscious radical theatre being carried on in Scotland today. (And let me assure you, the vast majority of actors, techies and directors are not, in fact, rolling in capital.)

Augustus Boal, in his seminal text Theatre of the Oppressed, wrote about how the theatre tradition handed down from Aristotelian Greece functions as an outlet of emotion and pressure for protelarian audiences and can therefore work as a method of control (similar to big A to B marches through urban wastelands on Saturdays, which use up a lot of energy planning and getting people out for, but have no disruptive effect on the running of government and business and are thus usually toothless).  If people go to the theatre, watch a nice cathartic play and feel good, they’re less likely to revolt.  Bertolt Brecht tried to change this effect by writing plays that were intended to make people think, to make them angry rather than to resolve their anger, but Boal argues that he doesn’t go far enough because his audiences are still passive.  Boal argues for an interactive Theatre of the Oppressed that is used to help communities act.  He advocates sometimes guerilla theatre tactics, to disrupt everyday capitalism and intrude upon it, and sometimes community workshops to explore the problems of the working class and imagine solutions to them.  He would most likely be excited to see the work that Active Inquiry does in Edinburgh, where they promote “increased participation in the arts as a catalyst for active involvement in society”.  Their Forum theatre show, Divided We Fall? has just closed after a run in Leith.
Beth as Grusha Vashnadze in The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertolt Brecht, Whitman College.

There is also another tradition of radical theatre, one which comes perhaps from the Aristotelian tradition but which focuses on telling the stories of the working class, stories of resistance.  This is the tradition that Acting Strange participates in, and it includes a wide variety of plays, sometimes from unexpected sources.  The National Theatre of Scotland has recently brought Glasgow Girls to the stage, a new musical by top-of-the-game playwright David Greig about the experience of asylum seekers in Glasgow.  It portrays the UKBA as a traditional villain in no uncertain terms (a portrayal which I’m sure anyone who has actually dealt with them will agree with!) and highlights the resistance and solidarity efforts of teenage girls in Glasgow to keep their friends from being deported.  It didn’t challenge the actual system quite enough for me but it is bringing much-needed publicity to the desperately unjust asylum system and casts its lot with refugees.

Smaller and lower-budget theatre companies are tackling radical subjects as well.  Tent City Theatre Company, "a political theatre company of bright, creative and variously un(der)/employed people involved in many types of activism" is performing their Jésus de Glasgow this Saturday, December 15th, in Kinning Park.  About the play: "When Cristóbal, the Basque rebel clown prince of Hell Bent Theatre Company, is commissioned by a priest to revive a tired performance of the Stations of the Cross, the Reverend Hannah is so shocked by the socialist rewrite of the Sermon on the Mount that she shuts down the production – with tragic results. There is a happy end." They also performed Shock Doctrine at the Pearce Institute in Govan and the Doune the Rabbit Hole festival this year.
Acting Strange works to tell stories of the working class, like Grainne’s Soldier and Bread and Roses, and also to imagine alternative futures, one of the exciting possibilites inherent in storytelling.  In our radio soap opera, Tales from the Gareloch, debuting in the new year, we explore an independent non-nuclear Scotland from the various points of view of characters in a small town in Argyll.  Theatre allows you to act out ideas, to watch them concretely in front of you – it tries things out and explores them like a good novel, but it has an immediacy that a novel can’t achieve.  When you challenge the capitalist system, or the pretended “democracy” of our representative parliaments, people argue, “But there is no alternative! What other system could possibly work? How would it work?  What are you arguing for?”  Theatre gives us an opportunity to explore any situation in a concrete way that is connected to people and relationships.  It is still an important tool in the radical’s repertoire.


About Beth:
She graduated from Whitman College with a B.A. in Theatre and is now building her acting career in Scotland in English and in Gaelic, which she teaches to adults.  She recently wrote and appeared in her two-hander, Daolag, at the Royal National Mòd in Dunoon.  Beth will star in Acting Strange Theatre co's upcoming podcast, "The Bridge." Find out more about Beth at www.bethfrieden.co.uk

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Grainne's Soldier

Set in Troubles torn Northern Ireland in the late 1970's, Grainne's soldier tells the story of a young girl caught up in a terrorist blast...

Grainne is played by Anthea Irwin
Written by Neil Scott
Edited by Neil Anderson

MOBILE SITE HERE

Monday, 23 July 2012

A day to celebrate 30 years of the Peace Camp


For the first day of the summer holidays it started early. I was even careful in how much I consumed the night before at the end of term night out. It started with a brisk walk down to Cowcaddens underground to meet at Morrisons at Partick for the mini-bus.

There was then a tour of the Campsie countryside, picking up various people in this rural idyll. We finally turned for Helensburgh with a final pick up in Bearsden. Despite the Police raid at our rehearsal and knowing that “they” were watching us, there was no welcoming crowd from the boys (and girls) in blue.

But there was a warm welcome from the folk at the Peace Camp. Never having been there before I was intrigued to find out what it was like inside. You walk in through a small meandering path with caravans with metal chimneys poking out, dotted along each side. What you can see from the road is deceptive as it looks like there is hardly any land there but there is a surprising amount. You then see the main area; opening up with a campfire with wooden benches around it and a roof on posters over the top of all of it.

I love the smell of a wood fire, I always find it soothing and makes me think of life at a simpler level. Life in the camp is at a simpler level. Everyday worries that most people may have such as paying the bills or worrying if the neighbours are having another party on Saturday night don’t matter. Of course many of the worries are bigger e.g. are ‘we’ going to annihilate life as we know it on the planet. I know this might sound strange but it’s a more satisfying (and real) worry than hoping there’s something good on the telly tonight. And they are doing something about it!

Everyone was really friendly, laid back and seemed at peace with the life and themselves. Just beyond the boundaries of the camp that may not be so true. The MoD Plod were keeping their eye on the camp. Just in a break in the woodland a Transit van full of  fluorescent jackets could be seen. It (or they) sat there for a while and then drove off, only to come back (or be replaced) shortly afterwards. Surely being on Peace Camp watch, must be the easy shift. Since 2001 there has been the extra heightened panic on terrorism (which I won’t digress into) but surely only the stupidest terrorist would hand over a bazooka (or whatever) in plain sight. Anyway they saw us eat soup, perform and then eat cake; I hope they felt some satisfaction in that.

On those three; the soup was great, the performances went down well with the crowd and the cake was fantastic. All of the short plays seemed to strike a cord and the music much appreciated by all those watching; of which there was a variety from a Japanese tourist to retired folk to teenagers. Another part of the audience was a small film crew for an independent web based news site therealnews.com, they didn’t intrude much and were concerned with the camp and not really our show. The performance ended with Happy Birthday being sung by all to the Camp.

After that we headed up to the North Gate of Faslane to protest and hand in a petition against the bomb.

We were a relatively small group and stood on the pavement at the entrance into the base but gave in our petition and posed for Plod when they took our photos. Neil videoed the blonde taking our pictures, don’t know if he’s likely to post that one though. After that most of Plod were very chatty and were happy to pass the time of day with anyone willing to chat with them (as I said before – easy shift). The guy in charge though was a bit up tight; especially when he spotted the cardboard tube used to bring one of the banners in. From across the other side of the entrance he homed in on this dangerous piece of cardboard with its possible road blocking potential (his words) and took it away. He did agree to return it when we were leaving though; because of course even if we were intent on blocking the road (with this piece of cardboard) we wouldn’t do it after we said we were leaving.

We did leave, without blocking the road, and headed back to the camp. Once the youngsters had been taken back for the train from Helensburgh we went back on our mini-tour of the Campsie lowlands before going back to the mini-bus hire place to end what for me had been quite an extraordinary day. It was an exciting end though, trying to beat the clock before the hire place closed at 5pm, watching the clock as the minutes and seconds ticked by towards the deadline. We didn't make it, by about 10 seconds! But the place was closed up and no one was there. They must be revved up and ready to disappear at 16.59 I tell you.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Hiroshima Day

***LATEST UPDATE*** 
2.pm Monday 6 August

The Council and Police are being really awkward on this international day of action across the world. Their small mindedness has forced us to move to St Enoch's Square Glasgow - we are there now - so come along and make your lantern and show solidarity with people across the world who want rid of weapons that could spell the extinction of all living things.

Join the Facebook Event for updates and reminders! - HERE

Appraisal Exercise

...by Sandra Webster. Filmed at Faslane Peace Camp.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Acting Strange Theatre Company member...

...Pauline Bradley performs at Faslane Peace Camp during our event on 28th June...

Singer Songwriters at Faslane Peace Camp...

It wasn't all drama at the Peace Camp... singer songwriters, Marie Collins and Richard Holmes performed for the activists on June 28th...

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

PRESS RELEASE:

Scottish Radical Theatre Group, Acting Strange Theatre Company Raided by Police.

 Acting Strange Theatre Company met in the Wynd Centre, Paisley on Wednesday 20th June to rehearse short plays they will be performing at Faslane Peace Camp in support of it’s 30th year of inspirational occupation. The small and newly organised Theatre group will be acting scripts written by Group founders, Sandra Webster and Neil Scott.

 A short time into the rehearsals, Strathclyde Police arrived and asked to see “the organisers” of the group. Sandra and Neil spoke to them, and from what the officers told them, they ascertained that the order came from “elsewhere” for the visit. None of the Theatre Groups members gave personal information, and ensured the officers knew that the performances and demonstration could number “between 10 and 1500” next Thursday!

 Sandra, who is also the Scottish Socialist Party Co-Spokesperson commented, “When I saw the police arrive into our rehearsal rooms, my immediate thoughts were that something had happened to my children. It is absolutely shocking that our police are being used to harass theatre groups in these times of cut-backs. What a tremendous waste of money and time!”
some of the members of Acting Strange Theatre Company at rehearsal

Musician and actor, Pauline Bradley, commented, “We’re clearly having an impact, given that the authorities have their eye on us.”

 Neil Scott commented, “This is a fabulous endorsement of our radical credentials. This makes us more determined to go show our support for the occupation of the Peace Camp and it shows that our society is upside down when Theatre Groups are raided by police, but illegal weapons of war are protected by people paid by our taxes.”

 Group member, Carolina Perez urged people opposed to these immoral and murderous weapons to, “come join us by the banks of the Gare Loch to sing, laugh and share food in support of the resistance to weapons of mass destruction. Festivities kick off at around 11am on 28th. Anyone who would like a lift from Helensburgh Railway station on the morning of our gathering should text 07541392522 or email plottracer@googlemail.com.”

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Welcome to Acting Strange Theatre Company!

In the coming days we will be posting details of how you can get involved (especially in our Faslane Peace Camp Solidarity event on 28th June!) and also how to get that script of yours onto stage, youtube or performed elsewhere! Acting strange Theatre Company (Scotland) is a radical theatre company set up to help draw attention to grassroots issues and political injustice. We are on Facebook HERE