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Byrne and Hayman join forces to revisit the Slab Boys play at Citizens Theatre

ONE of the best-loved works in 20th century Scottish theatre is to be revived in a major new production re-uniting its writer and its original director.

WRITER: John Byrne.
WRITER: John Byrne.

Writer and artist John Byrne and actor and director David Hayman will link up with the same creative team for the production of The Slab Boys at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow, which will also begin a season marking the 70th anniversary of the company's home in the Gorbals.

Written by Byrne in 1978 as the first instalment of a trilogy, The Slab Boys is a semi-autobiographical play set in the claustrophobic slab room of a Paisley carpet factory in 1957.

Focusing on a day in the life of a bantering pair of adolescent factory workers, Byrne's realistic depiction of working-class youth culture in post-war industrial Scotland is regarded as a landmark play in Scottish theatre.

The Slab Boys will form part of a programme to mark the theatre's anniversary next year and sees two major figures of the Scottish cultural scene reunited to collaborate on a work that has influenced a generation of writers and was named by the National Library of Scotland as one of the 12 key plays of the last 40 years.

As with the original, the new production will be directed by Hayman, who has a long association with the Citizens Theatre, appearing as a regular member of the company during the 1970s. He recently returned to the stage there as King Lear in a 2012 production.

He will also join the cast as Mr Currie, the gaffer of the slab room.

Byrne, fresh from a major retrospective of his work at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, will also join the reunited original creative team as the production's designer.

Dominic Hill, Citizens' artistic director, said the anniversary is a significant milestone in the unique history of the theatre.

He said: "The Slab Boys is the perfect fit. To be able to bring David and John, the creators of the original production, together again to re-create the play for our anniversary season, makes this show a must-see event in what is going to be a year filled with exciting productions that celebrate the best of the Citizens Theatre past and present."

Hayman said: "I'm utterly thrilled to be coming back to the Citz as a director and performer - the place where I spent the first and happiest creative years of my career - and it's a privilege to be working again with the great John Byrne who is designing the show.

"It is especially exciting to be revisiting The Slab Boys which is one of the most important and iconic pieces of theatre to come out of Scotland in the last 30 years. It is a celebration of working class life, a wonderful story of high hopes and lost dreams."

Following the run at the Glasgow theatre, the production will transfer to King's Theatre, Edinburgh.

More details of the 70th anniversary programme will be announced in Autumn 2014.

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