As the Lyceum publicise their 2011/12 season, it seems pretty clear they’re going to be all about collaboration. From marriage to friendship, religion to science, Dundee to Edinburgh, it may well be that the theatre is making a statement about necessary unity; advertising their schedule in the backdrop of the riots in England epitomises the need for cultural unity, collaboration and passion.
Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off
Opening the 2011/12 season is Liz Lochhead’s renowned, subversive text about the feminine intensities which governed the political landscape and relationship between Mary Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth. Drawn against the milieu of power inequality, it juxtaposes a new unity formed between Lyceum and Dundee Rep as they embark on a two year partnership. While the two theatres have worked together before, Dundee Rep AD James Brining explained how he is excited to be working “more creatively” with the Edinburgh theatre. Fusing well-known Scottish Makar Lochhead with a brand new affiliation between the theatres cements a connection which may see even more crossover productions generated in the future.
The Lyceum really hits its stride with BAFTA award-winning Abi Morgan’s new play 27 – the second of the theatre’s world premières. As it welcomes National Theatre of Scotland AD Vicky Featherstone, the production explores the relationship between science and religion when “a group of nuns open their doors, and minds, to some curious academics”. Having already directed some of Morgan’s earlier work (Tiny Dynamite, Splendour) Featherstone’s knowledge and acquaintance with the playwright’s work will house a sleek, informed skill to explore this text’s subtleties.
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival has already explored some intriguing territory about the interrelationship between art and science with installations such as What Remains @ The Traverse; so with Morgan’s text, we may see that ideological and philosophical side to theatre explored more fervently.
There will still remain cries for political theatre, satirical productions and educational forums about the need for action and reaction in society
The Infamous Brothers Davenport
With the Lyceum’s third co-production and world première of the season, we see perhaps the most interesting of performances. Working for the first time with Glasgow-based visual narrative company Vox Motus, the production “explores the destructive relationship between two young brothers amidst the magical world of Victorian séance and illusion of their creation”. With an apparent mash-up of genres, from straitlaced drama to vaudeville craft, the production written by Peter Arnott and directed by Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison could harbour the true collaborative fusion which the Lyceum is pushing for this year and next.
Standing out from the crowd, it not only spotlights some artistic and creative attention on the innovative Glasgow company, but it gives the Lyceum the opportunity to explore its own venue. Blending the theme of opportunity into their intentions, they have meshed together touring companies, individual playwrights, small-scale groups, large institutions and home-grown talent.
The Marriage of Figaro
The final of the Lyceum’s world premières is DC Jackson’s contemporary take on Pierre Beaumarchais’s celebrated epic comedy which satirises the moral imperfections of the aristocracy. Ever in need of satire, it will perhaps fit in with a more cultured parody of the other half’s lifestyle (though in terms of necessary statement, maybe protests are just as cultured as theatre).
It’s a text which will no doubt improve with age, as it’s often difficult to comprehend the true impact of the global recession and the government’s ideological function in propagating hackneyed systems until they have passed. There will therefore still remain cries for political theatre, satirical productions and educational forums about the need for action and reaction in society.
Of Mice and Men
Having completed “his seven year, five play exploration of Arthur Miller’s work, Lyceum Associate Artist John Dove returns to direct another American classic”. An ever-relevant tale of friendship amidst the hardships of the Great Depression in California, Steinbeck’s novel may find new relevancy this time around, as eye-opening doc-films about the 2008 recession (Inside Job, Zeitgeist Moving Forward, Capitalism: A Love Story) have alluded to a dissolution of concepts such as the American Dream; a controversial conversation which has been propagated since the developments of capitalism after World War II and following growing concerns about society’s ill-founded materialism.
It seems also a chance for Dove to celebrate the end of his Miller-epoch, a journey which has no doubt seen him make new friends of his own, and complete his dream of investigating one of the greatest playwrights of all time.
when our political systems can be governed by something as exploitative as capitalism, the need for gruesome satire could easily find its place at the heart of our theatre
The Lieutenant of Inishmore
Following the expert black comedy The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Martin McDonagh returns with a similar dark text about the moral limitations of violence. As INLA soldier Mad Padraic attempts to avenge the death of his beloved cat, it seems he’s prepared to go to any lengths to get even with the murderer. This ludicrous comedy manages to satirise the moral hypocrisies of terrorism and brutalise the gruesomeness of blind rage and bloodshed, and in a society so afraid that suicide bombers are lurking around the corner with IEDs, it’s a necessary recapturing of reality and a certain radical re-humanisation of systems such as terrorism.
It certainly seems an unlikely recipe for comedy, and yet perhaps that is where theatre must begin to look, towards the more improbable notions which underpin our wayward society. And when our laws and political systems can be governed by something as exploitative as capitalism, the need for gruesome satire could easily find its place at the heart of our theatre.
Beauty and the Beast
And so, the final production of 2011 which will lead the Lyceum into the New Year is Stuart Paterson’s Beauty and the Beast. Having succeeded to capture both the frustration and finery of last year’s winter with The Snow Queen, Paterson returns with director/designer Neil Murray who so beautifully created the sets for Romeo and Juliet and The Importance of Being Earnest. And in a film version which was titled IGN’s best animation of all time, it will be intriguing to see the richness and grace of the original fairy tale borne out in Murray’s set.
Here’s to plenty Cameron/Ogre comparisons, eh?
Season 2011/12 Full Listings:
Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off (Fri 16 Sep – Sat 15 Oct)
A Co-Production with Dundee Rep Theatre
By Liz Lochhead
Directed by Tony Cownie
27 (Fri 21 Oct – Sat 12 Nov)
A Co-production with the National Theatre of Scotland
By Abi Morgan
Directed by Vicky Featherstone
Beauty and the Beast (Fri 15 Nov – Sat 31 Dec)
By Stuart Paterson
Directed and Designed by Neil Murray
The Infamous Brothers Davenport (Thu 19 Jan – Sat 11 Feb)
Conceived, directed and designed by Jamie Harrison and Candice Edmunds
Written by Peter Arnott
Of Mice and Men (Fri 17 Feb – Sat 17 Mar)
By John Steinbeck
Directed by John Dove
The Marriage of Figaro (Fri 23 Mar – Sat 14 Apr)
By DC Jackson
Directed by Mark Thomson
A contemporary take on Pierre Beaumarchais’s well known tale
The Lieutenant of Inishmore (Fri 20 Apr – Sat 12 May)
By Martin McDonagh
Directed by Mark Thomson