Joyce McMillan: The ‘inspired’ appointment of Jackie Wylie

In appointing Jackie Wylie as artistic director, the board of the National Theatre of Scotland achieves three things at a stroke.

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Jackie Wylie was artistic director at The Arches in Glasgow for seven years before it closed last summer.

National Theatre of Scotland hires former figurehead of The Arches as new artistic director

The National Theatre of Scotland has appointed the former artistic director of The Arches, the long-running Glasgow venue forced to close after a police crackdown, as its new figurehead.
John Michie and Frances Thorburn in Grain in the Blood at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow

Theatre reviews: Grain in the Blood | One Thinks Of It All As A Dream | Where The Crow Flies

Traverse director Orla O’Loughlin calls Rob Drummond’s new play, Grain in the Blood – produced jointly by the Tron and Traverse – “taut and mysterious”, and it’s certainly all of that. As the story begins, we find ourselves in an archetypal farm kitchen in some isolated valley, where Sophia presides over a household that includes fragile 12-year-old granddaughter Autumn, and “Auntie Violet”, a glamorous young woman who is the sister of Autumn’s dead mother.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Akua Noni Parker and Jamar Roberts in Christopher Wheeldon's After the Rain Pas de Deux. Photo by Paul Kolnik

Dance review: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

It’s six years since Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater last visited Scotland, but dance fans have long memories. When a company is this good, we don’t need a constant reminder of why missing them is not an option.

Gary Tank Commander

Comedy review: Gary, Tank Commander - Mission Quite Possible

The latest BBC Scotland comedy to be turned into a big stage show, after Still Game and Burnistoun, and prior to Rab C Nesbitt’s adaptation at the Hydro, Gary: Tank Commander is disappointingly the least effective of the transfers so far. Greg McHugh has performed panto and his perma-tanned, endearingly daft squaddie is easily big and glowingly camp enough to command an arena. Featuring production values that arguably surpass the television series, which shot its Iraqi and Afghan bases in Scottish quarries, Mission Quite Possible lights up the exterior of the Hydro in military green and brown and serves Gary’s beloved cheesy pasta in the foyer’s foodstands. Most impressively, it opens with a helicopter scene to rival Miss Saigon’s.

Festival of the Dead at Summerhall  Ian's Studio

Scotland set for its first ever Celebration of Death

Glance through Scotland’s arts diary, in theatre, film, visual arts and music, and it soon becomes clear that this time of year – in the run-up to Halloween– is our annual moment for confronting taboos, and those aspects of life we would often rather forget.

Picture: Getty

Tom Waits threatens legal action against Edinburgh Festival show

A lavish French “equestrian operatic ballet” due to be staged during the 70th anniversary of the Edinburgh Festival could be blocked due to a legal challenge from the American singer-songwriter Tom Waits.

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Crude is far from perfect but it's a memorable show

Theatre review: Crude & Walking on Walls

Whatever your feelings about the North Sea oil industry, there’s no denying the power of the sheer spectacle it creates, in the mighty drilling rigs and platforms that stand around our coasts, glittering at night like great palaces of industrial engineering. It’s the breathtaking scale of the industry, its drive, energy and hubris, that has partly inspired Grid Iron’s new show Crude, about the recent story of oil in Scotland. Scotland’s leading site-specific company has found the perfect setting for the show in a huge shed at the Port of Dundee, where a giant platform in the process of decommissioning gleams on the shoreline as the audience arrives.

This Happy Breed at Pitlochry Festival Theatre

Theatre review: This Happy Breed

When artistic director John Durnin chose Noel Coward’s patriotic drama This Happy Breed as part of this summer’s Pitlochry season, he can’t possibly have known that Britain would vote for Brexit. Yet theatre often senses which way the wind is blowing long before the fact; and now here we are, receiving a serious final lecture from Coward’s gentle hero, Frank Gibbons, about the alleged sturdy common sense of the great British people, their resistance to foreign rule, and their instinctive dislike of daft radical schemes for improving the world.

A scene from MEMORi PIC: contributed

Joyce McMillan: NTS’s Home Away festival makes a world of difference

Night has fallen, in the Hidden Garden behind Glasgow’s Tramway; and a crowd of perhaps 150 gather in the dark, lit by a flicker of torches and lanterns, to hear two musicians – a guitarist and a fiddler – play a finalé to the evening of performance they’ve just experienced. The music is soft, soaring and a little sad, folk inflected, with a touch of bluegrass. Yet the mood is one of simmering excitement, the crowd a rare mix of ages and cultures drawn from all five continents. The guitarist, Sarah Fanet, is a member of the Adam World Choir, a global internet community of gay and transgender performers drawn together by he National Theatre of Scotland as part of associate artist Cora Bissett’s Eve/Adam Project, to be performed next summer; and the performance given this evening by a dozen or so members of that choir – from Scotland, Portugal and France – is only one part of Home Away, the National Theatre of Scotland’s five-day international festival of community and participatory theatre, being staged at the Tramway to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the NTS’s community and outreach department, NTS Learn.

Greg Hemphill and Ford Kiernan are writing a brand new live show for Still Game's return to the Hydro.

New shows added for Still Game's return to the Hydro

Five more shows have been added to the run of the new live version of comedy favourite Still Game.

Euan Cuthbertson as Syd Barrett in One Thinks Of It All As A Dream, Alan Bissetts new play for the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival PIC: Jannica Honey

Preview: Alan Bissett’s new play about Pink Floyd frontman Syd Barrett

Andrew Eaton-Lewis explains why he asked Alan Bissett to write a play about Syd Barrett that may – or may not – shed light on the late Pink Floyd frontman’s mental health

Young carers at Glasgow Southwest Carers Centre

Joyce McMillan: Invisible army of young carers in the spotlight

Think of a play about the lives of young carers, and you might imagine something a bit worthy and downbeat; a show with a tale to tell about an often-neglected set of problems and challenges facing tens of thousands of young people in Scotland, but perhaps too dutifully issue-based to offer much fun, or much artistic inspiration.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Linda Celeste Sims and Glenn Allen Sims in Alvin Ailey's Revelations. Photo by Andrew Eccles

Interview: Robert Battle, director of Alvin Ailey Dance Theater

Alvin Ailey Dance Theater has a proud history stretching back to the 1950s, when it’s titular founder blazed a trail through the American scene and gave hitherto unheard-of opportunities to black dancers. As the company prepares to visit Edinburgh, current director Robert Battle tells Kelly Apter about the need for the company to champion new work, from hip-hop to ballet, to run alongside its popular repertoire

Gerry Mulgrew in Krapp's Last Tape at the Tron

Theatre reviews: Mischief | Krapp’s Last Tape

It’s notoriously difficult to make credible drama of a tale set in ancient times that carries a certain mythical force; so difficult that Chekhov famously based the whole first act of The Seagull on the failure of one such show. Yet in this latest Play, Pie And Pint lunchtime show – at the Traverse from Tuesday – director Gerda Stevenson offers something like a master class in how to combine mythical meaning and successful drama, by presenting the three characters in Ellie Stewart’s new play Mischief as richly believable human beings – drawn in large, bold brush strokes, but instantly recognisable.

A shed built for the shopping industry has been turned into a temporary theatre for Crude.

Temporary theatre opens next to rigs for new oil industry play

A new play exploring Scotland’s relationship with oil has opened in the heart of a real-life industrial site.
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Theatre review: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Call it zeitgeist, if you like; but it seems to me that the creators of current UK touring theatre are responding, almost unconsciously, to a kind of retro-British mood that would never have crossed their minds half a decade ago.

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Composer and musical director John Browne with some of The Suppliant Women

Theatre review: The Suppliant Women


Dario Fo PIC: Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images

Preview: Dario Fo and Political Theatre

As a west European who turned 90 earlier this year, Dario Fo belongs to a remarkable generation. Born during the rise of fascism in Italy and Germany, they were teenagers during the devastation of the Second World War. Those who survived went on to become part of the great postwar rebuilding of Europe, only to see that work increasingly challenged by the return of right-wing politics after 1980; and yet they are known to some statisticians as the “golden generation”, more likely to have lived on into very old age than any generation before them.

And there can be no 90-year-old of whom all that is more true than of Fo, the great radical writer, performer, artist, activist and Nobel Prize winner whose birthday is about to be celebrated in a special season of events across Edinburgh, jointly curated by Eleven – the London-based arts production company created by former Summerhall artistic director Rupert Thomson – with Glasgow academic, translator and critic Joe Farrell, and radical theatre director Frances Rifkin. In a direct quote from one of Fo’s own accounts of his work, the festival is called Dancing With Colours, Whipping With Words; and its flagship event is a visit from Fo himself, who will appear in conversation with Farrell at the Royal Lyceum Theatre on 9 October.

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