• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Rich heritage pays dividends for latest season at The Citz

It is an odd sensation meeting Dominic Hill in Edinburgh.

Lead: Brian Ferguson has been cast as Hamlet in the central play of the autumn season at the Citizens Theatre.                                    Photograph: Tim Morozzo
Lead: Brian Ferguson has been cast as Hamlet in the central play of the autumn season at the Citizens Theatre. Photograph: Tim Morozzo

So immersed has the artistic director of the Citizens Theatre been in his own ambitious programme since he took over the Gorbals-based institution that it seems rare to see him out of the building. Yet here he is, in a windowless meeting room in the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Grindlay Street to give The Herald an exclusive look at the Citz's forthcoming autumn season, tickets for which go on sale today.

Perhaps Hill's appearance shouldn't be regarded as too off-piste. Prior to his appointment at the Citizens in 2011, he spent three years as artistic director of the Traverse Theatre, a stone's throw away from the Lyceum. More recently, Hill scored one of his biggest hits of the last year with his production of Crime And Punishment, with Chris Hannan's stage version of Dostoyevsky's novel being co-produced by the Citizens and Royal Lyceum Theatres in association with Liverpool's Everyman and Playhouse.

Crime And Punishment is nominated for several Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland (CATS) next month, the highlight of a season that also included Sherlock actress Louise Brealey taking the title role in Miss Julie, the relationship between the Citz and the Royal Lyceum continues with the world premiere of a new play by DC Jackson. Kill Johnny Glendenning finds Jackson moving into more grown-up terrain than his earlier work in a comic look at the Glasgow underworld. It opens at the Royal Lyceum in a production directed by the theatre's artistic director, Mark Thomson, before transferring to the Citizens in October.

"It's a very funny play," says Hill, fresh from his production of Stephen Jeffreys's play about the self-destructive ways of the second Earl of Rochester, The Libertine. "It's set in Hyndland and Ayrshire, and draws on certain mythologies of the Glasgow persona in terms of gangsterism and machismo. As a play it follows in the tradition of things that we've done here like Glasgow Girls and Takin' Over The Asylum, and should be a riotous night out."

Before Jackson's play, the Citizens opens its autumn season with the only Scottish dates of Headlong's acclaimed stage version of George Orwell's iconic novel, 1984. This will be followed by the season's centrepiece, a new production of Hamlet directed by Hill, who will be tackling his first Shakespeare since casting David Hayman as King Lear in his inaugural season at the Citz.

Hill says: "We haven't done a Shakespeare for a while, and the Citz has a tradition of doing Shakespeares and big classic plays, so it seemed appropriate."

Hamlet will feature Brian Ferguson, who first came to prominence in Davey Anderson's play Snuff, in the title role.

"I've wanted to do it with Brian playing Hamlet ever since I worked with him at the Traverse," Hill says. "I think Brian is a thoughtful and intelligent actor, and he has great sensitivity, which are all qualities you need to bring to that character."

Also appearing in Hamlet will be real life couple, Roberta Taylor and Peter Guinness, who play Gertrude and Claudius. With Taylor a former alumni of the Citz's 1970s acting company, there is an umbilical link to the theatre's colourful past, which has included several significant Hamlets.

"There's a nice connection there," says Hill, "and I think that continuum is really important. It's a big part of what the Citz was and is, and I think it's right that we celebrate it."

Hamlet will be followed by a visit from the National Theatre of Scotland, who are touring Graham McLaren's reinvention of Joe Corrie's play, In Time O' Strife. As with Kill Johnny Glendenning which it precedes, In Time O' Strife continues the strand of Scottish-based work that Hill talks of, and which runs in tandem with the Citizens' expansive and internationalist approach.

This continues with a visit by Mull Theatre with their stage version of Whisky Galore, while Gaelic theatre company, White Stag, bring a double bill of plays, Tomas and The Fantom, to the theatre's Circle Studio space.

Tomas is a Gaelic version of Robert Burns's epic narrative poem, Tam O'Shanter, and Fantom is inspired by a 19th-century serial killer on the islands of Harris and Lewis.

After The Libertine, more decadent poets will be seen onstage when Citizens' resident company, Untitled Projects, revives Pamela Carter's Slope, a dramatic study of the love affair between the poets Verlaine and Rimbaud. Originally produced by Untitled at Tramway in 2006, Slope sees director Stewart Laing revisit the play for the Glasgay! festival in a production reconfigured for a studio setting.

"I think Stewart wanted the play to be seen again," says Hill, "because Pamela's had quite a lot of success since it was first done, and sometimes I don't think she gets as much attention as a writer as she deserves."

Hill will end 2014 with Charles Dickens's classic tale, A Christmas Carol, seen here in Neil Bartlett's dramatisation of the book.

"Neil Bartlett has always been a great supporter of the Citz," says Hill, "and when we applied for the rights he sent me a lovely note. His version was first done at the Lyric Hammersmith, which he used to run, and which is a very similar space to the Citizens, so it feels like a good fit."

With the Citizens Theatre celebrating its 70th anniversary next year, and fund-raising for a massive redevelopment of the building under way, the artistic and commercial success of Hill's programming is an asset that continues to respect the theatre's past, while looking continually forward.

"The Citz is a building that's very aware of its cultural heritage," Hill points out, "and while I want to make it new, I think it's only right that we use the resources and the assets that we have.

"We're about to be going into a period of huge change with the capital project to redevelop the building, so we talk a lot about its heritage, and it feels good to keep that alive."

Tickets for the Autumn 2014 season at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, go on sale today.

www.citz.co.uk

Contextual targeting label: 
Block list

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

234637