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INSIDE TRACK: Blast off for The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler

It is a busy time in the cultural world, even this early in the year, and especially in Glasgow - the GI Festival is up and running through many venues in the city this weekend, and the Aye Write!

literary festival has also begun, a book festival this newspaper has a close association with.

But something connected to both the theatrical and the political stage caught my eye this week. The theatre company Vanishing Point, as I am sure you may have read, is producing what looks to be an intriguing new play, The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler, which in fact opened at Eden Court, in Inverness last night and will shortly open at the Citizen's Theatre in Glasgow on Wednesday, April 9.

Conceived and directed by artistic director Matthew Lenton, the play takes in the prose, poetry and music of the extraordinary Cutler, who influenced The Beatles, was played on the first four BBC radio stations, and championed by figures such as John Peel and Andy Kershaw. He was in both the Magical Mystery Tour and on the Home Service. His art lived in the world of the surreal, but also revelled in juxtaposition, and plays on language.

The identity of Cutler, who died in 2006, was, like nearly all of us, multi-faceted: he was a Scot, a Glaswegian, a Jew, and a dedicated Londoner.

Lenton, who will vote Yes this September, in some very interesting programme notes to the show, writes about Cutler, but also how this fascinating man may have approached the Independence Referendum.

He writes: "To claim Cutler as Scottish is, to some extent, questionable. His heritage was Russian Jewish and when he moved away from Scotland, he described that as the beginning of his life. All his creative work happened in London, which was his home until he died."

Lenton goes on to add - in thoughts and views that the programme makes clear are his own and not those of the National Theatre of Scotland or Vanishing Point as a whole - about "why [Cutler] went south and what he left behind".

He says: "Is Scotland a country the curious or ambitious among us still want to leave for London, the well-trodden path of so many brilliant, ambitious artists? If so, how can that ever change? It makes me wonder whether Scotland can really flourish in a United Kingdom increasingly alienated by the political and cultural introspection of London."

Lenton, who is English (like me), notes that he travelled in the opposite direction to Cutler, to Scotland.

He believes that social justice runs through Scotland's "veins" and while "the constraining dourness, and pure dead brilliant clichés, that Cutler fled still persist, they can be inspired to change".

Lenton says he imagines two futures for Scotland, one with a privatised NHS and a widening gap between rich and poor and another... "who knows?"

He concludes: "I certainly can't claim that Ivor Cutler would advocate independence. Possibly, he'd advocate something even more radical: Women of the World, Take Over?"

Perhaps so. Programme notes are sometimes interesting, sometimes not - these are worth reading.

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