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Coming up North of the Border

Published: 3 March 2019
Reporter: Sandra Giorgetti

This week saw Glasgow's Citizens Theatre announce that Scotland’s female-led comedy troupe, Witsherface, will take the stage on 31 March as part of the Citizens Women Season, dedicated to celebrating Scottish women artists.

Their biggest show yet, Oh Wit a Night!, is a new comedy extravaganza of sketches, impersonations, stand up and comedy songs, hosted by comedian Viv Gee and directed by company founder Maureen Carr.

Those participating include Elizabeth Caproni, Clare Hemphill, Susannah Laing, Keira Lucchesi, Jasmine Main, Erin McCardie, Sarah McCardie, Sandra McNeeley and Rachel Ogilvy.

The Citizens Women season also presents a radical retelling of Ibsen’s classic Nora: A Doll House, Fibres, a new play about the Clydeside asbestosis crisis by Frances Poet in co-production with Stellar Quines, and What Girls Are Made Of, the true story of Cora Bissett’s rollercoaster journey from the girl she was to the woman she wanted to be.

Meanwhile in Aberdeen, National Theatre of Scotland’s pop-up festival Just Start Here presents theatre, discussions and music washed down with local food and drink.

Theatre events include works in progress from local artists and from leading Scottish theatre practitioners; amongst these are Vicki Manderson and Finn Den Hertog's The Afflicted and Shane Strachan and Kate Steenhauer's combination of Japanese ink drawing and spoken word performance The Shelter, part of One Day to Play, a cross-art form collaboration by six local artists, curated by local spoken word collective Speakin’ Weird and dance agency Citymoves.

Other events are:

  • Sketches, geographically and intellectually accessible dance choreographed by Katie Armstrong and performed by Millie Thomas, Olivia Roach and Katie Armstrong.
  • In Conversation: Music At The Intersection, a discussion featuring singer-songwriter and musician Kathryn Joseph, Luke Sutherland of Rev Magnetic and Simon Liddell of Frightened Rabbit.
  • 5 Minutes To Move Me by //BUZZCUT//, a 5-minute one-on-one encounter.
  • Chow And Chat, discussions over dinner, and With Fiercer Urgency, a discussion about climate change.
  • Now/Apathy/Action Sharing, a performance created in one day by Fiona Soe Paing and Jo Gilbert inspired by a provocation supplied by climate change expert Leslie Mabbon.
  • Live music from WHɎTE blending electronica and Gaelic song.

Just Start Here is presented in partnership with Citymoves and forms part of the NTS Engine Room programme. It takes place at The Anatomy Rooms, Aberdeen, on 8 and 9 March.

Later in the month, the Sherman Theatre and Tron Theatre Company co-production of Jo Clifford's The Taming of The Shrew, a new work based on Shakespeare's comedy, opens at Tron Theatre.

Turning things about, Scarlett Brookes plays Petruchio with Matt Gavan playing Katherina. Also in the cast are Alexandria Riley, Claire Cage, François Pandolfo, Louise Ludgate and Hannah Jarrett-Scott.

Jo Clifford said, "I was asked to adapt The Taming of the Shrew way back at the beginning of my career. But I hated the bullying and the misogyny in the play so profoundly that I turned the commission down. It's a huge joy to return to the play now and transform it from a queer perspective. So my Shrew no longer supports the patriarchy. Instead it turns it upside down. And it allows us to dream of a matriarchal world...."

You can't mention theatre in Scotland without some reference to the Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe, and anyone who thinks March is too early for news is already five months behind. The first press release came out in October from the EIF announcing the world première of Scottish Ballet's The Crucible and Henrik Ibsen's Peter Gynt with James McArdle.

As to the Fringe, Assembly Festival shows have already been on sale for a month.

Amongst the theatre highlights are New Zealand’s A Slightly Isolated Dog with Jekyll and Hyde, Brian Foster Productions’ Myra’s Story, a funny and at times tragic one-woman show about a homeless Dublin street-drinker, and HandleBards, who will perform The Tempest and Much Ado About Nothing in the George Square Treehouse.

Underbelly Edinburgh Fringe has announced headliners Foil, Arms & Hog, circus performers CIRCA, awarding-winning Thinking Drinkers, acrobats Splash Test Dummies and, for late-night revellers, Spank!

And finally, theSpaceUK has over 100 shows already on sale including headliners Dr Phil Hammond's The Great Health Con, Seventh Tribute Arts double-bill A Tribute to Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill, last year’s five-star hit, Simon & Garfunkel Through the Years, Liquid Lunch Productions' new show Elton John: Rock Man Live! and last year’s sell-out show Billy Joel: Piano Man Live.