'We Long Endure': Weird Done Well

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 Chris Cannell reviews Dominic Kimberlin's We Long Endure which went up April 26th and 27th in the Barron Theatre.  As the programme attests in its first line, Dominic Kimberlin’s St Andrews writing and directorial debut We Long Endure, is a mighty ‘weird play’.  This is not ‘weird’ in a classic, abnormal, sense, it’s a 'weird' that emanates from the tradition of the ‘wyrd sisters’ of Macbeth fame who are an already existent part of the thane’s psyche, it’s a weirdness of levels and of observation. Such it is with We Long Endure, with every weird character representing a fraction of a human psyche; or at another level an element in Daoist cosmology; or a specific thematic concern of the writer; or… but I digress.  Kimberlin’s writing of the play is so fruitcakey, dense and rich, that any attempt made to understand it will either glance off or shoot to its heart and destroy others' enjoyment of the production.  The weirdness started off with the literature on offer on the Barron seats.  As well as the above programme, a flyer picturing one of the actors and their character name, an element, was provided. On the back of this was a key, detailing the Daoist attributes of five elements (fire, water, earth, wood, and metal) which could be used as a guide to the various characters and their traits. Each character represented a certain theme that was both divorced and related to their character. The excellent Mattia Mariotti, as Wood, questioned the use of capital on nature through a well-acted schizophrenic monologue on dance music. Mandarr Brandi gave a sterling and witty performance as Fire, who was in love and sober as a self-aware authorial voice. Josehphine Wolfe played, again, to strengths exhibited in Six Characters in Search of an Author as the Ophelic Water. Then waifish Earth, played by Adryon Kozel, was the centre, disappearing, being abused, at one level, in a bedroom drama with Metal, Constantin Popov, impressively exhibiting traits and tics of the director portrayed in the show’s trailers. Note_2 Direction was, on the whole, very tight with a strong aesthetic sense lent by fantastic lighting work, a sparse set, interesting costume and makeup choices. Also of note was the melodious original music by Vahan Salorian that set an indefinable but evocative atmosphere. This was adequately complemented by the writing, even if at times it was unnecessarily expositional, and the acting, at times, over-reliant on break-outs of hysteria and emotional dichotomy. This could have been a product of the Daoist fascination with dichotomy present in Dominic's work, ying and yang. This may be the point: that people will either love the play's weirdness, or really not. Either way, throw yourself into the discussion, and let the weird of the sisters, elements and characters, charm or appal you. Chris Cannell  Photo credits go to Helen Miller and Dominic Kimberlin

A Life in Theatre: Fragments of Thespianism

 

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 Peter von Zahnd reviews A Life in Theatre by David Mamet, which went up in the Barron Theatre on April 20th and 21st.  The Illsley-Matson duo is one I know well. Having been previously directed by them on two occasions, I walked into the Barron theatre with high hopes. Did the production live up to my expectations ? Sadly, not quite. Although the acting was overall very strong, a great many practical realities detracted the audience from focusing on the thematics and the scenic action. I’ll elaborate. A Life in Theatre explores the interaction between a thespian starting his stage career (Andrew Illsley) and his older mentor, who has ‘spent [his] whole life in the theatre’ (Cole Matson), as well as their relationship with the stage. As time goes by and the younger of the two gains experience, he starts to emancipate himself from and clash with the seasoned actor. More importantly the play, by setting its characters on their own stage, expands on the ideas of performance—metatheatre—and provides us with insights on what it means to be an actawr. Sorry, actor. In terms of staging, the production was both intelligent and insightful. The actors sat at their make-up table before an imaginary mirror in front of the audience; behind them was a ‘second stage’; the stage they walked on when their characters were acting themselves. Not quite Inception, but an interesting array of layers clearly delineated by the setting. The strongest aspect of the performance was, I believe, the acting itself. The chemistry between the actors was pleasantly felt throughout. But let us examine both actors individually. Illsley’s rendition of the confused debutant—is interpretation of the role—was relevant. Illsley did at times rely on what he already knew: acting idiosyncrasies that I’ve seen him do many times before. This, I wish to stress, is one of the hardest things to get rid of in acting. I do it, and so do 99.9% of the St Andrews thespians I have seen on stage. Overall his performance was full of presence, and due attention was paid to the emotional development of his character. Considering that the play consists in a series of fairly to very short scenes, this was a noticeable achievement. Matson, although having begun in a somewhat stilted manner, went on to embody his older fellow with perceptible ease, subtly, never overdoing it, and with the most precise rhythm and volume control I have observed on a Mermaids stage. He delivered a wonderfully real performance (he is a professional actor, and it shows). My only regret is his lack of intensity in certain scenes, which I deemed necessary. 524770_10101833511754549_1778266065_n What, then, went wrong? I suppose pacing will always be an issue when staging this play with full costume changes. Still, imposing transitions that sometimes reached the same length as the scenes themselves drastically impaired the flow of the piece. Dominic Kimberlin, as stage manager (in real life and in the play), did a fine job at entertaining the audience while the other two were jumping into myriad costumes backstage, and added an interesting melancholy air to the production. This, however, wasn’t quite enough to preserve the relevance and impact of the piece as a whole. Cutting some costume changes may have helped—I for one would have enjoyed the Brechtian feel of seeing them both don and doff clothes on stage—and I believe that Kimberlin’s character could have been used in a more engaging way so as to link the scenes together.I would like to stress something that says much about the skills of all three actors involved: they opened in front of about eight people. Three of them were reviewing and the actors knew it. Acting in front of a crowd is stressful; doing it in front of what seems like a dress rehearsal audience is even more daunting. I won’t go over the ‘where were you?’ questions, aptly but by a Stand reviewer. I’ll just say this: they made a very reduced audience engage with what they had to communicate. More prosaically perhaps, they got laughs, a tricky thing to do without the typical gregarious instinct of larger crowds. (I usually smile about twice per hour of comedy; I think I made an amused sound or two that night).And the 42 or so empty seats missed out. Illsley’s and Matson’s Life in Theatre suffered from practical deficiencies (the transitions issue being the greatest), but the quality of the acting made it worth the while. On the whole they put on a stimulating production and developed thematics that should be reflected upon further: theatre is not only about 'Juliet is the sun' and the curtain call and the boozy after-party. Peter von Zahnd  Photo credits go to A Life in Theatre, Mermaids

Mermaids at the Fringe: Questioning Committee Logic

After making critical remarks about Mermaids Fringe decisions in his review of Angels in America--one of two big-budget shows being sent to the festival by Mermaids this year--Lachlan Robertson follows up his critique with some questions about the Mermaids committee Fringe selection process. Original article: http://www.thetribeonline.com/2013/04/angels-in-america-a-flightless-bird/CaptureAfter my recent review of Angels in America, I have been asked to write a follow up article relating to the points I made in regards to Mermaids and the Fringe. For many people involved in St Andrews theatre, and particularly those wishing to pursue a career in the dramatic arts, performing at the Edinburgh Fringe is seen as a tantalizing opportunity to showcase one’s talents with the possibility of international exposure. The festival offers valuable real world experience to those wishing to escape the comfort of our small university town. Mermaids, the University’s main theatre funding group (a subcommittee of the Union), provides the means for students to attend the festival and show the world what St Andrews is capable of. However, the decisions to send two large budget productions over the possibility of sending an array of smaller budget performances, has met with no small amount of disapproval.A central point to the issues in Mermaids’ decision lies in the fact that neither Angels in America or The Tempest had been staged before the decision of sending them to the Fringe was made. This is not a criticism of either shows, but rather the selection process of the Mermaids committee. Despite the past achievements of both Adelaide Waldrop and Siobhán Cannon-Brownlie, selecting their shows on anticipation of success rather than their in-town performance discredits the validity of other highly praised shows, especially ones whose only negative point is a younger production team. Under what criteria did these two productions outweigh all other applicants? How was this possibly measured? If decisive weight is given to “veteran” directors, what chance does that leave to a first year’s debut production?Both Angels in America and The Tempest are large budget shows requiring significant investments from Mermaids. Let’s consider two small-scale productions that could have been funded by Mermaids: The Collector, directed by Katherine Weight and produced by Mathilde Johnsen and Blind Mirth. These productions each represent the artistic power of St Andrews theatre. The Collector received four stars from The Stand, and praised by both Owl Eyes and The Tribe. With its small production team and cast, it would have been a safe investment for Mermaids both financially and critically. Blind Mirth, our town’s own improv comedy team, has already garnered acclaim at the Fringe. Without need for rights, and an excess of stage properties or costumes, this would seem like another opportunity that Mermaids would not pass up. These two productions, and potentially some of the others that applied, could have been staged for the price of one of the chosen shows, and definitely less than the combination, and offered a greater understanding to the world at large about what theatre is like in our small town. Big budget shows do get staged here, but it is in the Barron that the black heart of Mermaids truly beats.Both Waldrop and Cannon-Brownlie are fourth year students; if one fails (or both!) at the Fringe who are we to turn to other than Mermaids? While sending fourth year students to helm the St Andrews’ presence at the Fringe may seem safe under the grounds of the Mermaids reputation being in the hands of experienced directors, it must be acknowledged that these directors will have graduated and since they are not returning to St Andrews they have no reputation to maintain here. If these productions suffer from bad reviews or poor box-office performance, who is accountable for the loss of Mermaids funds?Mermaids’ methodology has awoken some controversy. Perhaps under its new committee this will change. Regardless of the potential success Angels in America or The Tempest may achieve in Edinburgh, and hopefully they do well, Mermaids has taken a significant leap of faith at the expense of smaller, safer investments. Let’s just hope they don’t end up looking like a fish out of water. Lachlan Robertson Image from www.edfringe.com

Student Playwright Spotlight: 'We Long Endure' by Dominic Kimberlin

We here at Tribe Theatre love the quantity and quality of student writing in St Andrews. For the final edition of the 2012-2013 academic year we wanted to showcase one more example of student writing. We Long Endure is going up the 26th and 27th of April in The Barron, and is written by Dominic Kimberlin, a second year and experienced St Andrews thespian. We Long Endure is the first time his work has been put on stage in St Andrews as well as his first time directing! 

Note-_1

Here's what he had to say about the show:

People are fascinating. Some in particular, but all in general. However, interacting with people can be stressful, particularly when trying to understand their behaviour. One difficulty emerges when you consider that, no matter how much research you do into theories concerning why people do things, it is impossible to ever know for absolute certain that other people exist at all. Of course, that's something you have to assume anyway, otherwise conversation would be quite impossible, but as long as you attempt to interpret what people mean, you can never interact with anything beyond your own interpretations. Nonetheless, if interpretations are all we have, then research into interpretations is of the utmost importance.A year ago I was reading about an idea from Daoist philosophy that all events consist of interactions between five fundamental elements, elements into which all things could be divided. Things that act in a certain way affect things in a certain way, which affect other things in a certain way, which then inevitably affects the first set of things. Each element creates and destroys other elements, fluctuating eternally between each and the whole undying. This was the beginning of We Long Endure and why there are five characters in the play.Five elements sustain as one system. This system can be extrapolated outwards to describe not only the individual, but the interactions of individuals within an encompassing system. Individuals, composite of five elements, affecting other individuals in a certain way. There are numerous theories about how individuals manifest themselves in your consciousness, embodied in your interpretations. These theories are very useful in understanding why your expectations of individuals are inexorably linked to your own certain way of affecting them.Gradually the boundaries begin to fall away. It become impossible to distinguish where the individual ends and your interpretation of them begins. Why do people act in a certain way? Because things of this kind act in such a way. Patterns of behaviour replicating themselves across the infinite, a unending series of  fractals expanding throughout all things, all events microcosmic of greater and greater events, unfolding again and again. A theatrical fractal. A theatrifractal.Would it were that simple. No, all things must inevitably lead back to nothing as the ideas become irrelevant to anything meaningful. Thoughts march relentlessly on and we cannot rest in one place forever. All we recognise can be summarised in a single concept. The theatrifractal  becomes a Moebius strip. We are alone in our understanding. All things relate to one thing: ourselves.Of course, the play isn't actually like this. This is just why things happen in the play. The actual things themselves are both funny and interesting, which is largely due to the awesome cast who consist of some of my favourite people. The play is both a tragicomedy and a basement psychodrama. It is about people, but without people because there are no people in the play. The five characters do not have names. There are no names in the play except Rebecca's. Her name is Rebecca. Dominic Kimberlin Note_2 And here is the excerpt from the show:

EARTHIs that a knife?

METALYes.

EARTHWhy do you have a knife?

METALMy father gave it to me.

EARTHToday?

METALProbably. It wasn't there before.

EARTH“Before” being?

FIREWell obviously not then.

METALNot “before being”. “Before being - ?”

EARTHWhat?

METALI don’t know what. When the knife wasn’t there, that’s when I mean.

EARTHWhat do you mean?

METALWhen it was before. When else?

EARTH(After some time)Your dad gave it to you.

METALMy father gave me the knife, yes.

WATERWhy did he give you a knife?

WOODMaybe it’s symbolic.

FIRE(Carefully stressing the 'dic')It sounds in-dic-ative.

METAL(Sharply)Of what?

EARTH(Simul.)What?

WATER(Simul.)What kind of knife is it?

METALIt’s a Sabatier blade.

EARTHThey’re used for cooking, aren’t they?

METALYes.

FIREWhat d’you think you’ll use it for?

METALCooking.

EARTHYes.

WATERSo he bought you a knife. That’s nice.

METALHe didn’t buy it. He found it.

WATERWhere?

FIREIn somebody’s chest?

METALIn the street.

WATERWhich street?

METAL(Becoming more agitated)Just some street, does it matter?

EARTHNo.

METALOkay, don’t worry about it.

EARTHOkay, I won’t.

METALI’m not talking to you.

EARTH(Simul.)You’re not?

WATER(Simul.)You’re not?

METALWhen I said “don’t worry about it”, what happened?

EARTHI said “okay, I won’t”.

METALNo, apart from that.

EARTHI stopped worrying about it.

METALBut it’s not “you”. The “you” that stopped worrying about it doesn’t exist. The “you” that is “you” didn’t decide to stop worrying, it just realised that it was no longer worrying.

EARTHSo what’s your point?

METALMy point is –(Drinks)I don’t know. I’m just p***ing the time away.

FIRE(Brightly)I have my greatest revelations whilst p***ing. I often wonder why people disregard p***ing as a legitimately philosophical activity. There's something humbling about it, this universal bond, this empathic link with every other living thing. Think about how many hours we spend staring into a porcelain bowl steadily filling with urine.

 (Pauses)

S***ing too.

WOODAre you done?

FIREIt's a time when one addresses the very nature of selfhood. When we're confronted with this physical immediacy, wherein a part of yourself is ejected into the outside world. And we wipe away the remains and flush it away forever. As though we're ashamed of it.

WOODYou're not ashamed of it. You talk s*** every day.

FIREMy s***, certainly. I could never be ashamed of my s***. It's a part of who I am.

WOODIt's every part of you.

FIREAre you ashamed of your s***? Tell me something. Do you wipe standing up or sitting down? Or do you hover?

WOODI'm sick of this s***!

FIREAha!

WOOD(Simul.)Do you know how hard it is to talk to you?

EARTH(Simul.)It’s sometimes hard to talk to you.

METALThen don't.

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We Long Endure goes up the 26th and 27th of April in the Barron Theatre. You can reserve your tickets on their Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/147425478770410/?fref=ts

Description and excerpt by Dominic Kimberlin. Information collection by Emily Grant.

Photo Credits go to Dominic Kimberlin and Helen Miller.

Angels in America: A Flightless Bird

Lachlan Robertson reviews Angels in America: Millenium Approaches which went up in Venue 1 the 17th-19th of April.The major difficulty with producing a show such as Angels in America, one that has an inherent political focus specific to the time of its writing, is reestablishing its relevance. The play centres upon the issues of gay rights and the fear of the HIV virus during the mid 80’s. Early on in the play, Prior Walter, the protagonist, reveals to his boyfriend, Louis Ironson, that he has contracted HIV. Louis quickly finds that he cannot care for Prior due to his own fear of the disease and distress at witnessing the deterioration of his lover. In another plot strand, Roy Cohn learns that he has contracted HIV and to preserve his reputation firmly insists to the outside world that he has instead been diagnosed with liver cancer. Meanwhile, Joe and Harper Pitt, a Mormon couple, struggle in their fruitless marriage; Joe is a closeted homosexual. Whilst at times these interwoven stories were striking, ultimately I feel that the issues associated with HIV and gay rights have changed significantly since the play’s initial production. In the developed world HIV is no longer a subject of taboo, nor are its victims shunned. The sense of foreboding built around the approach of the millennium falls flat as we know all too well that things will indeed get better. This is not to say that life cannot be breathed into this play, as some of its writing is superb, but only that Waldrop’s rendition felt rather anachronistic._MG_6159 This show was a veritable salmagundi of striking theatre and melodrama. Whilst aspects of the show were powerful, these pieces were weighed down by the bulk of the production. William Brady deserves much praise for his performance as Roy Cohn. With his quick tongue and excellent vocal control, he easily stole the show from the rest of the cast. His portrayal of Cohn’s own struggle to retain his reputation was utterly convincing. Though in St Andrews for less than a year, Brady has quickly shown himself to be one of the best actors in town. The brief appearances of Kufasse Boane brought a refreshing touch of comedy to the show, and I can only say that I wished to have seen more of her through the performance. The struggle between Joe and Harper Pitt (played by Sebastien Carrington-Howell and Edie Deffebach respectively) was moving in particular scenes, but by the third act their troubles felt repetitive and dry. This was one of the main problems of the play. Most performances in the show were sound for the first two acts, but by the third they began to falter. Characters lost their momentum, and the ending was more pantomime than revelation. As this is only the first piece of a two part play, perhaps more rigorous editing may have been made by the director to present St Andrews with a more concise version of Kushner’s script*.Waldrop and her production team made good use of Venue 1, a difficult thing to do. The set was simple yet effective. The section representing the residence of the Pitts was reminiscent of Tracey Emin’s My Bed, and conveyed clearly the confusion and paranoia of Edie Deffebach’s character even before she spoke. A similar attention to detail was paid to the costumes used in the show. Sadly, the lighting and effects were forceful and gaudy. The final scene of the show, with the back walls of the set shuddering apart, and the grand reveal of the angel, resplendent in lopsided wings that brushed the lighting, brought this issue to the fore._MG_6399 One question that begs to be asked is this: does Angels in America best represent St Andrews theatre? I do not believe it does. And yet, the production is set for Edinburgh later this year, being one of the two Mermaids funded shows to be put on at The Fringe. This lends itself to a further criticism of Mermaids’ decision to send two productions to the Fringe before they had ever been staged (Siobhán Cannon-Brownlie’s version of The Tempest is not even showing in St Andrews.) This seems to defy any sense of a meritocracy within the university’s main theatre funding body: Fringe-sized funding falls to productions under the pretense of anticipated success. Relatedly, theatre in St Andrews is best at its most raw, and it is a shame to note that no student written pieces are being funded to go to the Fringe.In the end, Angels in America, is a mongrel creature that is likely to cause some controversy within the Mermaids community. When reaching for grandeur it falls short of the mark, and with only cardboard wings to support it this angel is a rather flightless bird.*A note to any potential audience members, this show is long. I entered the Union at 6:50 pm for a scheduled door opening at 7:00. After opening the doors twenty minutes late, and let’s remember that on the show’s Facebook page attendants were urged to arrive closer to 6:30, I then sat through the three acts and two intermissions to leave at no less than 10:45. I have no reservations in regards to watching a long show, but it seems only common courtesy to forewarn audiences of a production’s running time. For a show put on in a university town, where students may expect to be able to see a play before getting dinner and going home to study, this lack of honesty could be seen as foolhardy. Lachlan Robertson Photo credit goes to Kelly Diepenbrock

Review: Sweet Charity

Katie Brennan reviews Sweet Charity which went up in Venue 1 through Just So during On the Rocks.Sweet Charity tells the story of a hopeless romantic and classic New York City dreamer, Charity Valentine, in her quest for love. This quest, it turns out, does not get off to the best start, as the opening scene involves her man of the hour throwing her in a lake in Central Park and stealing her purse. The rest of the play follows this unfortunate event and focuses on Charity’s relationship with the self-proclaimed ‘goofball’ Oscar Lindquist and her indecision over whether or not to reveal that she is a dancer in a sleazy nightclub.11084_632071873485940_1191612863_n The cast, particularly Vicki Robertson as an energetic and hopeful Charity, all had a great deal of work to do on this show. Set in 60s New York, the accent work across the board was particularly strong, and it was only at the interval that I realised some of the actors were not actually American. Mimi von Schack and Anna McDonald as Nickie and Helene, respectively, deserve particular mention for their great chemistry as the two jaded dancers that work with Charity at the Fandango Ballroom. They both reveal a softer side to each of their characters in ‘Baby Dream Your Dream’, a second act number where both characters sang longingly of their wildest dreams - a suburban life to counteract their lives in the harsh world of New York City. Frazer Hadfield was particularly delightful as Oscar, portraying both the neuroses and sweetness of the man that Charity fell in love with, and he gave a particularly moving turn before pushing her into the lake in Central Park. Mark Bradley Gregory and Brendan Macdonald offered hilarious turns in what could have been bit parts, but both took their parts and ran with them.15175_632071900152604_244973096_n Overall, however, the show suffered from what can only be described as lack of polish. The sets, in particular, were shabby and poorly done, with spinning rounders consisting of painted flats which were not effective at all in evoking the settings of the play. Some of the chorus also occasionally faltered in steps, which drew attention from those chorus members who obviously knew what they were doing. A lot of the staging was itself unimaginative, a lot of ‘move to center stage and sing’ which wasn’t a good use of the venue. However, having one or two scenes where characters came in from the sides and were on the floor of Venue 1 was nice, as well as having ‘table seating’ for an extra few pounds. That was a very nice touch, as it allowed some of the actors to interact with the audience at that point, though more would have been nice.This was a good show that could have been a lot better, which is disappointing for Just So. They did have to deal with a loss of the Byre at the start of the semester, but they could have used Venue 1 a lot more effectively.logoKatie Brennan Photo credits go to Lightbox Creative and On the Rocks

6 Characters in Search of an Author: My Favourite Kind of Weird

Dominic Kimberlin reviews Joe Cunningham's production of 6 Characters in Search of an Author, which went up during On the Rocks 6 characters This was a really weird play, and happily one of my favourite kinds of weird. It's the kind where the narrative suddenly gives way to another kind of narrative, which is commented on by the inhabitants of the previous narrative, before being dissolved into another narrative. The show begins with a production team discussing their latest production about euthanasia and their decision to cast a terminally ill child in it. This naturally raises questions about the legitimacy of the theatre, and the desire to present something “real” on the stage. Suddenly, there is a loud banging from the doors of Venue 1, and in walks a macabre horde, the eponymous 6 characters abandoned by their author.What follows is the gradual re-construction of their contextual foundation, weaving the setting from which they have been displaced by staging various scenes in greater and greater detail. The internal relationships between these 6 characters, continually re-articulated and re-constructed by the Director, begin to emerge as the only stable structure within the play. Their various perspectives invite resolution by the audience, whose reactions are more or less aligned with the Director’s in their desire to uncover the characters’ pasts. 6 characters Cate Kelly’s performance as the Director was superb. The emotional response to the unfolding narratives around her was convincing and moving, particularly as her drive to create something important and meaningful led her further into the world of the 6 characters. Her eventual breakdown drew genuine empathy, particularly as the audience is implicated in the same curiosity which displaces her from her own narrative.The interaction between the Father (David Portmore) and the Stepdaughter (Josephine Wolfe) was consistently fascinating. Their delivery was impressive due to the sheer volume of lines they had, and they instantly engaged me with their intricate performances. The Mother (Alexandra Koronkai-Kiss) was also remarkable in this regard; these elements together established the delightfully histrionic surrealism which made their world so darkly enrapturing.Another highlight was Peter Stanley, whose initial appearance as the amoral Producer was well-acted. However, his re-emergence shortly into the second act as the engagingly psychotic Mr. Pace, erupting through a bed that the audience had watched moved on-stage minutes before, was by far one of the most entertaining moments of the play. In general, the conviction of every actor in their performance was commendable, displaying legitimate terror as the boundaries between the narratives eroded. Unfortunately, it was sometimes difficult to hear the production team’s lines, especially near the beginning, which led to a slow-feeling start.Both costumes and make-up of the 6 characters were excellent, providing a clear contrast to the naturalism of the production team: stark black, Gothic clothing and ethereal, white face-paint. Their collective presence on-stage was spectacular to witness. The use of music was effective and was often employed to create an unreal atmosphere to the proceedings, along with some especially chaotic lighting. Transitions between different narrative spaces were accomplished with professional flair.Overall, 6 Characters in Search of an Author was a thoroughly enjoyable and thought-provoking play. It was skilfully re-iterated to fit its context, thus further blurring the boundaries between reality and theatre, and so producing a rather brilliant theatrical experience.logo Dominic Kimberlin Photo credits go to Mathilde Johnsen, Lightbox, and On the Rocks

Dancing at Lughnasa: A Review

Lachlan Robertson reviews Dancing at Lughnasa, which went up during On the Rocks 544007_10151408448919807_1104213060_n Beth Robertson’s production of Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa was a stark, yet beautiful production that became the highlight of my On the Rocks experience. With its live music, strong cast, and a precise understanding of realism, the show was a joy to behold. The play follows the lives of five sisters, the Mundys, their confused elderly brother, the sometime lover of one of the sisters, and their seven year old son, Michael. It is through Michael’s own recollections that we witnessed the action of the play unfold, and through him we were given knowledge of the characters’ fates before they came to be. The Mundy sisters, all unmarried and living under the same roof, live a life bare of luxury. Kate, the eldest of the sisters, is the only one bringing in a constant wage, and the others each contribute to the family upkeep in a variety of ways. With the arrival of Father Jack, their brother, after a twenty-five year stint serving as a missionary in Uganda, and the unannounced visit of Michael’s father, Gerry Evans, the play begins. In all it is a story of poverty, responsibility, and unfulfilled dreams. 539608_10151372782742548_428751508_n Carly Brown was without a doubt the star of this show. Her portrayal of Kate Mundy fully illustrated the character’s conflict between her duties as a good Catholic and family member, and her own personal desires. I cannot help but want to meet Carly and assure myself that she is indeed a nice person, and not at all the character she so convincingly brought to the stage. However, the strength of Carly’s performance was only able to be fully seen through the support of a powerful cast. Indeed, it was the bickering, teasing, and conniving between the Mundy sisters that each of the actors were free to exhibit their talents. The new president of Mermaids, David Patterson, also deserves commendation for his role as Father Jack, the slightly befuddled, yet affable elder brother of the Mundy sisters. Patterson filled his role with a gentle sense of experience, and demonstrated a refined comedic sensibility. I am unsure whether the treatment of Michael, the love-child of Chris Mundy and Gerry Evans, was a directorial decision, or an aspect of the original script. Instead of attempting to find a young child to play the seven year old boy, Sam Peach played the role by standing to the side of the stage and delivering his lines as the other cast members acted as if a small child were interacting with them. This was at times highly effective, particularly in the scenes shared between Sam and Charlie Martin, playing Maggi Mundy. At other times the mime seemed to jar with the otherwise stark realism of the production. 5543_630607206965740_89431818_n A special mention must be made of the music played throughout the production by a Ceilidh Band constituting of Kerr Barrack, James Cave, and Joanna Ramasawmy. The presence of live music contrasted the austere nature of the set and costumes used in the production, mirroring the disparity between the starkness of the Mundy sisters’ lives and their repressed hopes and dreams. Initially, I was saddened at only glimpsing two of the band members at the beginning of the show, and would have enjoyed seeing the musicians ply their trade upon the stage. However, I now feel that the absence of the band from the set only furthered the ethereal quality of their music. That the source of this music was kept from view seemed to affirm the Mundys’ own distance from their aspirations. Finally, congratulations must be given to both Beth Robertson and Rose Albano for bringing this show to the stage here in Saint Andrews. There has been a recent trend for productions filled with meta theatre, absurdism, and overt, if not at times gaudy, symbolism, and Dancing at Lughnasa catered to anyone longing to witness the telling of a stirring narrative. logo Lachlan Robertson Photo credits go to Dancing at Lughnasa, Lightbox, and On the Rocks

Interview with the Director: Angels in America: Millenium Approaches

Emily Grant sent the director of Angels in America: Millennium Approaches a few questions about her upcoming show. Tribe Theatre: Part of the big deal with Angels in America was that it was so controversial when Millennium Approaches debuted in 1990. AIDS—one of the central themes of the show—was new and shocking then. Though AIDS is just as horrible and life-shattering an epidemic now as it was then it’s no longer a shocking topic for theatre or art in general. How do you think that the loss of shock value has affected the reception of more recent productions of the show? What do you think the show has to offer now that this shock value and desire to call attention has passed?

Director, Adelaide Waldrop: When Millennium Approaches first premiered in 1990, AIDS had already been the subject of a few different plays, perhaps most notably in Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart (which premiered in 1985).  However, what sets Angels apart is that it was the first play to deal with AIDS without being a play entirely centered around the AIDS epidemic.  Instead, Kushner uses the topic of AIDS to investigate various elements of the American (and human) psyche.  While the subject of AIDS is arguably less taboo nowadays (at least in Western culture) than it was in the 1980s and 1990s, the themes that are explored through a theatrical depiction of HIV/AIDS remain powerful and moving forces in any drama.  The horrors of disease, the struggles of the dying, the effects on those caring for the dying -- Kushner explores all of these aspects of sickness.  In Angels we see Kushner advocate not for accepting those dying of AIDS, but rather learning to live with the disease, and accepting it as a common enemy against which people must rally.I don't think Kushner's main goal in writing Angels was to publicise or problematise the AIDS epidemic specifically, but more to explore what it can reveal about the larger cultural identity of America, or (as it's called in the show) 'the melting pot where nothing melted'. 64255_10151370521847322_983948315_n Tribe Theatre: As I understand it, the main climaxes of the work come during the second part of the show, Perestroika, not during Millennium Approaches, the half you are putting on. What have you done to give the first part a sense of conclusion and climax since, presumably, you aren’t presenting the second half?Adelaide: While a lot of the more dramatic moments happen in Perestroika (characters wrestling angels in mid-air, a character climbs a flaming ladder to heaven, etc.), Millennium Approaches is definitely the more tightly constructed play.  The whole show is a constant build towards a final climactic moment (I won't spoil it here!).  In addition to that, Millennium Approaches -- as the name indicates -- particularly deals with the sense of a build-up towards the dawn of the third millennium.  Though a lot of the conflicts aren't fully resolved in this part of the show, it ends on a climactic note that I think is even more exciting because it asks more questions than it answers.

Tribe Theatre: From what I’ve read, this show involves a lot of pop culture and political references relative to the time it was written and put on stage. Twenty-three years later do you think that these references will have any resonance with a group of people who, for the most part, were born after this time? Have you attempted to edit these references or have you preserved them? Why?

Adelaide: The show does have a lot of cultural references specific to the setting -- not just the 1980s but America as well.  However, I haven't changed any of them because I think they're key to establishing the setting of the play.  Also, Kushner uses all small parts of the script, like certain cultural references, to make thematic connections between themes.  That's a very important aspect of how the play works, so I wanted to be sure to keep all those elements.Angels in America goes up the 17th, 18th, and 19th of April in Venue 1. Tickets can be reserved on their Facebook event.Or purchased through the Union Website: www.yourunion.net/events Interview by Emily Grant Photo credits go to Angels in America: Millenium Approaches

Just As it Is: Charming, Just As It Was Before

Caterina Giammarresi reviews Just As It Is which went up earlier this year as a Freshers' Play but went up again during the On the Rocks Festival. 602119_586105131400113_632014460_n Just As It Is returned to the Barron theatre after its debut there during the Freshers’ Plays as part of On the Rocks.  Written by co-director, Alice Shearon, the play follows young and witty Amy (Lauren MacLellan) on her visit to St Andrews to see her brother Neil (Stephen Quinn).  Amy arrives to St Andrews with a head full of romantic ideas about university life, expecting "late night coffee shop revision session with people in thick framed glasses." However, her expectations are quickly shattered by the events that unfold during her short stay in the bubble.Filled with St Andrews-specific references such as the Toastie Bar, Taste, and the Bop, the script is obviously tailored to a particular audience, and in both instances that the show has gone up, this has certainly worked in its favour. Shearon takes the classic young student archetypes and gives them a St Andrews twist. During her stay, Amy meets the suave pretentious philosophy student, the self-absorbed and sex-obsessed girl, the guy who is so pretentiously posh that he doesn't know who he actually is anymore, that one guy who never seems to do any work and takes deadlines more as suggestions, the overly keen girl obsessed with academics and CV building, and the impressionable fresher preoccupied with her own social life. The overall energy of the show was high and the pacing was nice, largely due to the interesting writing and staging of memory scenes that took the audience back in time to view funny and sometimes embarrassing moments in the character's lives. While the characters seemed at points to be exaggerated and the jokes a little expected, everything came together and created quite a hilarious and enjoyable show.The cast as a whole was pretty strong and had good chemistry on stage. Two stand-out performances for me were Coco Claxton, playing the part of Lisa as the "self-absorbed and self-obsessed girl," and Alexandra Koronkai-Kiss, who in addition to co-directing, played the part of Mary, the "impressionable fresher." Claxton was endearingly naive and I often found myself sympathising with her and wanting to forgive her for her horribly stupid (but hilarious) life decisions as she struggled to stay faithful to her boyfriend while at university. Koronkai-Kiss, though filling in for a rather minor role, was equally as hilarious when she arrived towards the end of the play and had to re-introduce herself to her academic father who was so drunk that he didn't remember adopting her. It must be said, though, that many of the actors’ performances would have greatly benefited from slowing down their lines and focusing more on articulation. There was a time or two when particularly funny lines were lost on the audience because actors rushed through them. However, any technical criticism of their acting is completely redeemed by the absolute commitment and devotion to the play that was coming from each of the individual actors. It was obvious that they were having fun, making it nearly impossible for the audience not to have fun with them.logoCaterina Giammarresi  Photo credits go to Just As It Is and On the Rocks

Caesar, All Hail!: Julius Caesar Review

Beth Worlock reviews Julius Caesar, which went up through Mermaids in Venue 2 during On the Rocks.As the audience began to fill Venue 2, there was a palpable excitement in the air. The community of St Andrews has come to expect high quality from dramatic productions, especially in a showcase like On the Rocks, and the students assembled to see Julius Caesar were most certainly not disappointed.This beautifully directed rendition of one of Shakespeare’s finest plays captivated the audience throughout, and although it was perhaps a bit too long, the quality of acting and the masterful delivery of the narrative more than redeemed it.Benji Bailey’s modern twist on a classic allowed the audience to better relate to the balance of power in Shakespeare’s classic tale whilst remaining true to the original masterpiece; the play’s language was retained but the costumes and temporal setting were updated to give a more contemporary feel. Cooper Goldman (Caesar) and Chris Cannell (Brutus) Cooper Goldman was enthralling to watch as Julius Caesar; he commanded the stage with his compelling performance and distinctively amusing voice. As the title character, the role must have been daunting but Goldman pulled it off with ease and flair. Tom Vanson, who played Cassius, gave a passionate performance that went to the heart of Shakespearian drama; his interpretation of the villainous character was both nuanced and engaging, winning the audience’s support despite his plotting. This portrayal was, in the view of this reviewer, the standout performance in a stellar cast.Chris Cannell, playing Brutus, was also a strong presence on stage and steadily guided the development of his pivotal role. The tense moments of conspiracy portrayed by Vanson and Cannell provided a fascinating insight into the treacherous world of Ancient Rome. Both actors brought the ruthless politicking of the senators to life on stage. Tom Vanson (Cassius) and Chris Cannell (Brutus) The relationship between Brutus and his wife Portia, played by Caterina Giammerresi, was highly convincing, and Cannell and Giammerresi were clearly immersed themselves in their roles. The dynamic between the two provided some of the production’s more memorable moments and Giammerresi’s performance gave a welcome feminine but powerful counterbalance to Shakespeare’s male-dominated plot. She also looked fierce in her dress. Caterina Giammerresi (Portia) and Chris Cannell (Brutus) Based on the standard of this production, I look forward to future performances from this wonderfully talented cast and production team. logo Beth Worlock Photo credits go to Adryon Kozel and On the Rocks

Sweet Success: The Sugar Syndrome Review

Hannah Risser reviews The Sugar Syndrome, which went up through Mermaids in the Barron during On the Rocks521970_10151604389427953_1023898292_n Despite the sparse set and a cast of only four, Lucy Prebble’s The Sugar Syndrome is hardly a minimalist play. Heavy topics such as psychological disorders and paedophilia discussed in the work were handled exceptionally well by director Tasmin Swanson. Swanson kept the story line from becoming too fantastic at times, which is possible with the plot as it is written. The new Barron projector was used wisely, utilized not only for setting but also to represent computer screens. The music cues were well placed as well as splendidly chosen. Swanson’s choices kept the show not only believable but also captivating.The actors must also be praised for their performances. Sandra Koronkai-Kiss and Peter Swallow, although appearing slightly less often than their cast mates, were an absolute delight to watch. Koronkai-Kiss, playing Jan, a middle-aged housewife who is in denial about her separation with her husband, handled her character extremely well. She hit the nail on the head, making you relate to her as you would to your own mother; maddened by all of her little idiosyncrasies, but loving her all the same. Swallow, playing Lewis, a sexually frustrated young adult with too much time on his hands, handled his character with a deft hand. Swallow’s acting progressively got better throughout the show; despite his slow start he must be praised the most for his timing. Peter Swallow (Lewis) The relationship between Dani and Tim is a strange and unconventional one. Coco Claxton played Dani, a teenage girl who recently returned home from spending time in a clinic for her eating disorder. In the wrong hands Dani could come off as petulant and attention-seeking. However, Claxton reigned in the character and pulled her down to earth, making her less a caricature and more of a real person. Her performance was mesmerizing to watch, regardless of whether she was impeccably delivering little sarcastic quips or having a full meltdown. Tim, Dani’s other half, is a man twice Dani’s age who initially meets up with her expecting an eleven-year-old boy. Played by Alex Levine, Tim isn’t inherently likable. Regardless, Levine kept Tim from coming off as creepy and turned him into an average man. However, Levine went even further and managed to make this strange person endearing, which is commendable. Alex Levine (Tim) and Coco Claxton (Dani) The Sugar Syndrome, a show with potential for being overly dramatic, was made believable as well as enjoyable by director Tasmin Swanson. The actors all did a fantastic job at portraying their characters realistically, and the overall understated tone of the show brought intensity to the story and helped make an impact, making for an ultimately wonderful and entertaining show. logo Hannah Risser Photo credits go to The Sugar Syndrome, Lightbox Creative, and On the Rocks

Bitter Root: Let’s Cry 'til the Cows Come Home

Alexandra Solheim reviews Bitter Root, which went up during the On the Rocks festival. An article showcasing a portion of the play can be found here http://www.thetribeonline.com/2013/04/student-playwright-spotlight-bitter-root-by-joanna-alpern/. bitter root image Bitter Root, a student-written play by Joanna Alpern, centers around a middle-aged couple that has moved to the countryside to cope with the tragedy of their only son’s suicide. Despite the plot’s heavily depressing origins, fresh and comical interferences of family members and a rude neighbour lighten the mood as the play progresses.Cara Mahoney delivered a solid and convincing presentation of Laura, a mother so absorbed with grief and so fixated on finding answers that she closes herself off to everyone and everything around her. Mahoney artfully pulled the audience towards her and to the plight of her character; she so convincingly brought her character to life that one could almost feel the aura of depression the she conjured for the part. Graham Richardson and Cara Mahoney as John and Laura Graham Richardson portrays her spouse and counterpart: the husband trying to move on from tragedy. Throughout the play the sympathy and admiration for John (Graham Richardson) grows as he consistently demonstrates determination and patience in helping his wife come to terms with the tragic event, despite the fact that she persistently turns down his assistance.Charles Bell, Katherine Weight, Coco Claxton and Dominic Kimberlin presented believable characters that added to the richness of the cast and show as a whole. Katherine Weight demonstrated her range as she played both Lily, successfully capturing the spirit of an annoying 5-year old girl, and the old Mrs. Wallo; her interpretation of the older character brought to mind a fusion of the mannerisms of a 40-year old school teacher and Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple. Her flexibility in switching between the two roles was admirable. The lack of old-age makeup to give her the physical appearance of her elderly character is the only real complaint that can be brought forward about her performance. 320069_627978013895326_1603943595_n Joanna Alpern, as writer and director, gave her audience a believable account of a couple’s strife through a tragedy but ensured that her show would be enjoyable by colouring the plot with comical inferences. The poetic monologues, most memorably when Laura compares the lilies to her dead son, can at times wander too close to cliché, but Alpern managed to pull them off and they strengthened the feeling of desperation that ran through the play. As a reviewer and audience member I thoroughly enjoyed this play and it was certainly a worthwhile experience. logo Alexandra Solheim Photo credits go to Ben Anderson, Lightbox Photography, and On the Rocks

Pass the Salt: A Heaping Portion of Laughs

Alice Shearon reviews Pass the Salt: A Play Peppered with Humour by Simon C. Lamb, which went up as part of the On the Rocks FestivalA preview portion of the play can be found in this article compiled before the show's premiere: http://www.thetribeonline.com/2013/04/student-playwright-spotlight-pass-the-salt-a-play-peppered-with-humour-by-simon-c-lamb/ otr Simon Lamb and Andrew Illsley, the directors of Pass The Salt (- a Play Peppered With Humour), are veterans of Mermaids Theatre with experience both in acting and directing in high quality shows. It is no surprise, therefore, that their collaboration, a farcical comedy of epically meaty proportions, lived up to their reputations and offered up a well-directed, incredibly calculated and hilarious portrayal of when things in an Italian restaurant go terribly, terribly wrong.Seeing the unique personalities of each character, all bringing different forms of hilarity and wit to the Mama Rose (the imaginary restaurant where the play was set) was perhaps the most enjoyable part of the play. There was a lot of chemistry in the cast, and as a result they were able to deliver lines and execute amusing gestures with ease and brilliance. When one member of the cast faltered or when a joke fell flat, there was always another character there to put the show back on track. The close attention to small details was also impressive, particularly in the case of Theatre critic, Ms. Sondheimmer (played by Ali Duncan-Young), who slowly worked her way through an entire bottle of wine as events escalated around her. PtS Programme Logo Special mention should also go to Philip Cleary, whose portrayal of a deliciously camp and flustered waiter was comical and perfectly timed. Andrew Illsley managed to be hilarious despite not uttering a word. Though overall the writing was witty and enjoyable, I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable in response to the elderly letch, Gilbert Macsporra, with his dirty jokes and lip smacking. However, the disturbing realism of this character is probably more a compliment to the perceptive writing of Simon Lamb; his capability to also consistently play such an uncomfortable character deserves no small praise.Despite the show’s early sparkle, the vibrant energy and characterisation were less robust towards the end of the show. The wit and puns that came so easily in the first half were non-existent in parts of the second half, and the strangely serious monologue of the ditzy-but-secretly-genius character, Violet, felt ill-placed in a play where previous lines were as serious as the declaration that 'Clancy had gotten caught in the kippers'. The slapstick 'fight' scene left a lot to be desired, and its conclusion, sadly, got lost in a fumbling of arms and legs.Despite these few writing and staging issues, both cast and crew should congratulate themselves on a compelling, well-developed and generally delightful performance. Pass the Salt: A Play Peppered with Humour by Simon C. Lamb promised to serve up a treat, and it delivered with a serving of style and a heaping portion of laughs. Photo credits go to On the Rocks and Pass the Salt.

Student Playwright Spotlight: 'Pass the Salt: A Play Peppered with Humour by Simon C. Lamb'

We here at Tribe Theatre are constantly impressed by the quantity and quality of student playwrights in St Andrews and want to help showcase their talent by publishing snippets of their work. On the Rocks presents us with an amazing opportunity to do this because not only are the theatre productions in the Student Arts Festival produced, directed, and acted in by St Andrews students, but some are also written by students! So we contacted the writers of these shows and talked with them about their experience in theatre as well as writing in general and asked them to send us segments from their shows. Simon Lamb is a veteran of St Andrews theatre through his involvement with Mermaids, CMAD, the Gilbert and Sullivan Society, his STAR Radio show, Standing Ovation, and work beyond the University. He’s acted, directed, and written; his playwriting resume includes The Storyteller’s Apprentice which is going up at Canongate Primary School in St Andrews this summer and Pass the Salt, which is going up through On the Rocks in Venue 1, Sunday the 7th and Monday the 8th . Show summary: "Set in an Italian greasy spoon, 'Pass the Salt' is a good ol' fashioned ensemble farce, with a host of wonderful characters, it stirs a number of comical ingredients into the cooking pot and leaves them to simmer." PtS Programme Logo  Extract from Pass the Salt – A Play Peppered with Humour by Simon C. Lamb [In this abridged extract from the opening scene of the play, the owner of The Mama Rose (Signor Serrano, who speaks in broken English) and one of his waiters (Fletcher) discuss the dining experience the Italian restaurant has to offer. Little do they know what the evening has in store for them…] Fletcher                                       Signor, people don’t care whether their fork is “aligned properly” or whether it’s sticking out of a mouldy mound of mozzarella. They want to get in, grab the food and get outta here. Signor Serrano                            No, no, no, no, no. Signor Serrano think not. The customer want theatre. They want come in for meal, have entertainment, leave from meal. I like that people. To them, I say this – (he begins to sing the opening lines of the Disney song ‘Be Our Guest’) Fletcher                                       (cutting him off) As much as people love ‘Be Our Guest’ from ‘Beauty and the Beast’, the nineteen-ninety-one animated movie musical featuring music and lyrics from the great Alan Menken and the even greater Howard Ashman … this is a restaurant and not the theatre. To those people, I say only this – (he holds up a fork) – fork off. Signor Serrano                            Fletcher! The only f-word in here is you. Fletcher                                       Oh, let them go to the theatre and fork out for a ticket if they want to. Run a pre-theatre special for them: a tenner for two courses and ten-percent off if you book in advance! This is a restaurant. Signor Serrano                            Maybe so, but tonight … is more than restaurant. Fletcher                                       What do you mean? Signor Serrano                            Tonight is big night. Fletcher                                       Signor? Signor Serrano                            Tonight … is stadium. Big match. Good, bad. Light, dark. Hope, despair. Tonight we find out if crust of pizza is stuffed … or if we are. Tonight – we will be … reviewed. [End of extract.] logo  Excerpt by Simon C. Lamb. Reporting by Emily Grant.Photo credit goes to Pass the Salt and On the Rocks. The show summary is taken from the On the Rocks 2013 Programme.  

On the Rocks Festival Preview: STAR Radio's 'People Like Us'

Tribe Theatre has been working with the On the Rocks Student Arts Festival (OTR) staff to get the word out about upcoming shows. OTR asked Will Land, the self-described 'initiator' of 'People Like Us', a few questions about his upcoming show. 'People Like Us'--A Playlet goes up at 6:00pm on Monday the 8th of April and runs at the same time every night until it closes on Friday the 12th of April online via www.standrewsradio.com.  Summary: "A hard hitting, verbatim radio play about a member of the Fife constabulary's life-affirming struggle for justice in a small coastal town. In the face of adversity, PC McGee delves into the world of the ambiguous, sexually deviant and alcoholic student body: money, lies, and legal highs. The radio play that the New York Times has failed to comment on." People Like Us Cover Photo  1. Tell us a little about People Like Us Will: So STAR's Radio Play, "People Like Us", is a "hard-hitting verbatim play" about one member of the Fife constabulary’s life-affirming struggle for justice in a small coastal town. In the face of adversity, PC McGee, who takes his job far too seriously, unpicks the ambiguous, sexually deviant and alcoholic student body. It's all about money, lies, and legal highs in this town. What's been great about this play is that the entire plot, the characterisation and the script have all been written by students, about students, for students and it's been a collaborative effort. It's based loosely around a few St Andrews' stereotypes and serves to highlight the slightly ridiculous nature of this town we live in. The play is tongue-in-cheek and doesn't take itself too seriously, and none of the cast does either. We're all part of it to have fun and enjoy the experience.  2. This is a piece of original student drama, what was the inspiration behind the script? Will: The inspiration for the play comes from the Director of STAR, Kate Reid's desire to have a radio play entered for On The Rocks, so a group of us who were all interested got together and began to brainstorm ideas, and we could think of no better setting for the play than St Andrews. I guess the group of us, there are ten of us, is also quite eclectic in its own way, so the title "People Like Us" (perhaps inspired by the BBC3 Documentary Series) seemed to fit nicely. In fact, many of the play's characters are just the cast members hyperbolised (although some are unaware of this...). 

People Like Us

 3. There are a lot of great events happening around town with On The Rocks, what makes People Like Us special? Will: "People Like Us" should be viewed as a funny little radio playlet written by a bunch of friendly-faced students. It is only 15 minutes every evening from Monday 8th April to Friday 12th April, and should prove quite amusing. None of us has ever taken part in a LIVE radio play, and most of us have never even written a play, so who knows what will happen. Tune in to find out! We're all excited and would love nothing more than for everyone to tune in each evening - Only on St Andrews Radio. logo  On the Rocks Photo credits go to 'People Like Us' and On the Rocks. The show summary is taken from the On the Rocks 2013 Programme. 

On the Rocks Festival Preview: Dancing at Lughnasa

Tribe Theatre has been working with the On the Rocks Student Arts Festival (OTR) staff to get the word out about upcoming shows. OTR asked Beth Robertson, the director of Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel, a few questions about her upcoming show. Dancing at Lughnasa goes up at 7:30pm on both Thursday the 11th of April and Friday the 12th of April in the Barron Theatre.  otr Summary of the show: "During the summer of 1936, the impoverished Mundy sisters fight against the dangers of the outside world, which threaten to overwhelm their fragile family. Their isolated life in Donegal is simply but limited, and when the sisters are gripped by the magic of their new wireless radio, they begin to question the sheltered lives they have been forced to lead. The tensions that will eventually tear the family apart are recounted with tenderness and dark humour in Brian Friel's most personal play, an Olivier and Tony Award-winning play from one of Ireland's greatest living playwrights."  1. Tell us a little about Dancing at Lughnasa. Beth: It’s about the events leading up to the collapse of the Mundy family in 1930s Ireland. The outside world and their own internal frustrations sort of explode in on them. They become obsessed with their wireless radio, and it seems to ignite these wild desires that threaten their traditional Catholic values. 2. You’ve described Dancing at Lughnasa as Brian Friel’s most ‘personal’ play, what did you mean by that?Beth: He loosely based it on his own mother and aunts – he dedicates the play ‘To those five brave Glenties women.’ 3. How are the cast’s Donegal accents?Beth: They are getting there. Our Northern Irish friend Ashton was over for a visit so he gave us a little master class. Lots of ‘power shower in an hour.’ 4. There are a lot of great events happening around town with On The Rocks, what makes Dancing at Lughnasa special?Beth: It’s just an incredibly beautiful play. The cast is phenomenal. If you want a really moving theatrical experience then you should come and see us.  OTR poster On the Rocks Photo credit goes to On the Rocks and the show summary is taken from their 2013 Programme.    

Student Playwright Spotlight: 'Without a Punchline' by Rory Mackenzie

We here at Tribe Theatre are constantly impressed by the quantity and quality of student playwrights in St Andrews and want to help showcase their talent by publishing snippets of their work. On the Rocks presents us with an amazing opportunity to do this because not only are the theatre productions in the Student Arts Festival produced, directed, and acted in by St Andrews students, but some are also written by students! So we contacted the writers of these shows and talked with them about their experience in theatre as well as writing in general and asked them to send us segments from their shows.  Without a Punchline is the theatrical debut for first time director and playwright Rory Mackenzie. It goes up on Wednesday the 10th of April at 8pm in Venue 2: Rory: This is my first foray into the mysterious world of ‘the theatre’ and all I can say is that it’s a more intoxicating place to be than I had anticipated. Frighteningly so at times. “But what took you so long Rory?” I hear literally no one ask. Well no one, I can only reply that it was not until I came across St Andrews’ very own buzzing theatrical community that I was inspired to contribute, in my own small way, to what is a very exciting student arts culture. I feel privileged to be working with and among such a talented bunch of people. And if Without a Punchline goes well then I look forward to working with more of them, and if it doesn’t go well then heck I’ll probably still give it another go.

 

Show Summary: “Norman Sullens, a struggling comedian with a struggling marriage, is approaching the biggest gig of his career. The problem is he has no jokes. Obsessive drinking, the impeding arrival of his mother-in-law and a nervous hallucinatory breakdown all come out in one night of hilarious poignancy and antagonizing one liners.” 

Excerpt from Without a Punchline

Norman-         [Slurs and shouts] Hello, hello? Honey, yeah I'm not going to make it home tonight. There has been an, eh, unavoidable conflict of schedule. You understand honey, don’t you?Mother-in-law-[Shrill] Who is this speaking?Norman-         Unavoidable, yeah. I know you’ve got that old bat there but you’ll just have to ignore her all on your own tonight.Mother-in-law-What on earth? I demand to know right now who this is.Norman-         It’s your husband Mary, you remember your husband, Norman, yeah? Well that’s me.Mother-in-law-Oh you wretched man. And why, pray tell, can’t you make it home tonight?Norman-         Well, look baby I got into a fight with this baby seal and his bartender friend-Mother-in-law-Ah yes, bar. That was the word I needed to hear. That explains everything.Norman-         Hey Mary, you sound funny. Did you do something with your hair?Mother-in-law-This isn’t Mary you blithering idiot, this is her mother. And we are currently both waiting for you to come home because Mary has cooked a delicious meal of-Norman-         Of live goat?Mother-in-law-No, not of goat. Why goat?Norman-         Of puppy dog tears?Mother-in-law-Why you foul man.Norman-         Well, whatever it is it I advise you season it with as much gratuitous salt and fat and unnecessary shocks as possible. Thereby fulfilling your promise.Mother-in-law-I don’t follow. But then why should I follow the mad ravings and rantings of a drunkard like yourself who, even on the odd occasion when he is sober, only ever aspires to be a professional clown? I have never heard the like of it.Norman-         I may be drunk, but you are ugly. And tomorrow I will be sober while you will be-Mother-in-law-Yes, that’s Winston Churchill, dear. So not particularly original.Norman-         [Pause] Can you put Mary on?Mother-in-law-No.Norman-         What do you mean no?Mother-in-law-There has been an unavoidable conflict of schedule and she can’t come to the phone. You’re talking to me instead.Norman-         Oh I see what you did there. You referenced something I said earlier and then you gave it an ironic and witty twist. You’d make a terrific comedian.Mother-in-law-But at the risk of being a terrible husband. Speaking of terrible husbands Norman, when you going to give me a grandchild? I would so awfully like to tell my girlfriends that I’ve finally acquired a grandchild.Norman-         Yeah, about that. There’s something I really need to tell Mary. Some news I got today, which might explain why I'm here. So if you could give her the phone.Mother-in-law-I'm sure I can pass the message on.Norman-         No, it’s something that belongs between husband and wife.Mother-in-law-Oh, Mary has no secrets from me.Norman-         Then Mary can tell you herself.Mother-in-law-[Pause] I see.Norman-         It took you long enough. logo  Play and Bio by Rory Mackenzie. Reporting by Emily Grant.Photo credit goes to On the Rocks. The show summary is taken from the On the Rocks 2013 Programme. 

Student Playwright Spotlight: 'Bitter Root' by Joanna Alpern

We here at Tribe Theatre are constantly impressed by the quantity and quality of student playwrights in St Andrews and want to help showcase their talent by publishing snippets of their work. On the Rocks presents us with an amazing opportunity to do this because not only are the theatre productions in the Student Arts Festival produced, directed, and acted in by St Andrews students, but some are also written by students! So we contacted the writers of these shows and talked with them about their experience in theatre as well as writing in general and asked them to send us segments from their shows. Bitter Root is Joanna Alpern's second contribution to On the Rocks; last year she wrote 'Echo', a one act that went up alongside Tennessee William's 'Talk to me like the rain' in a night of one acts entitled Acts of the Bedroom. See reviews for Acts of the Bedroom here: http://www.thetribeonline.com/2012/04/two-in-a-bed/http://www.stand-news.co.uk/culture/review-acts-bedroom as well as an interview the Tribe did with her before Acts of the Bedroom: http://www.thetribeonline.com/2012/04/interview-acts-of-the-bedroom/.) Bitter Root goes up on Saturday April 6th at 2:30pm and 7:30pm in the Barron Theatre.

Show summary: "In a new piece of student writing, Laura and John retreat to the countryside in the wake of a traumatic incident. The house is secluded and their sole visitor is their overbearing eighty-year-old widowed neighbour, until the extended family comes to stay. John is welcoming. Laura is not."

 

 
Extract from Bitter Root, Act 1. Morning.

 Mrs Wallo: Besides. You can’t ever really go back after something like that. Can’t concentrate. No use. To anybody. And there’s no need to make much money anymore. You get by on very little living alone- John: [Quickly.] So, er, what are you baking Mrs Wallo? Mrs Wallo: Ah yes, I should have said, we’re having a bake sale to raise money for the soldiers. John: Oh, for the ones returning? Helping them reintegrate, get jobs and therapy- Mrs Wallo: No, no dear, for the grave stones. We want to get the gravestones polished. [Pause.] John: Oh. Laura: And what are you making? Mrs Wallo: Sponge. John: Ooh, like a Victoria Sponge? With that nice jam and cream in the middle-? Mrs Wallo: No. Just plain, simple sponge John. Sorry to disappoint. John: Right. Mrs Wallo: Well, it’s not for people to enjoy themselves really, is it John? Men have died out there. [Smooths down her dress.] It’s to show respect. John: Of course, of course. Mrs Wallo: Don’t suppose jam and cream were exactly running through their minds in the crux of battle. John: No… I guess not.  bitter root image Extract from Bitter Root, Act 2. Night.  John: I think we should throw the lilies out, don’t you think Laura? Laura: What, why?John: Because they’re starting to stink. And I think I’m allergic. Laura: How can you be allergic to lilies? John: I don’t know, but look, can you see- [John rolls up his sleeves, Laura looks away and cuts him off.] Laura: Well people have stopped sending them anyway. [John rolls his sleeves down.] John: They’re going brown too. Laura: Yes, and they started off so white… White as baby hair in fact... Do you remember when he first started growing hair? When it was quite white, and blonde, you’d never have guessed it knowing him now… [She realises she should have said ‘then’, but does not correct herself.] … With that scraggly brown mess it was always in… No, it wasn’t like that at all, it was all white – and soft. How do things - start off so white and end so - brown? John: They’re dying. Laura: [Louder.] Maybe they’re - choosing to die. Maybe they don’t like it here. You know, I was always endeared to plants, because they were alive and yet they never made a sound. I used to find it graceful. But perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps it isn’t graceful at all. To suffer in silence. After all, it’s so soon, so untimely, a flower’s death. It seems that almost as soon as they open themselves up to survey the world, they close in again. On themselves. And go brown. John: Laura, you’ve spent the last twenty years looking at desert flowers, ones that sprout new growth after long periods of drought. You know they’re not all as flimsy as these- Laura: I’ll throw them out in the morning. logo Extract by Joanna Alpern. Reporting by Emily Grant. Photo credits go to Joanna Alpern and On the Rocks. The show summary is taken from the On the Rocks 2013 Programme. 

Student Playwright Spotlight: 'Just As It Is' by Alice Shearon

We here at Tribe Theatre are constantly impressed by the quantity and quality of student playwrights in St Andrews and want to help showcase their talent by publishing snippets of their work. On the Rocks presents us with an amazing opportunity to do this because not only are the theatre productions in the Student Arts Festival produced, directed, and acted in by St Andrews students, but some are also written by students! So we contacted the writers of these shows and talked with them about their experience in theatre as well as writing in general and asked them to send us segments from their shows. Alice Shearon is a second year History student who, despite perviously having helped with tech aspect of St Andrews theatre, only made her debut as a playwright and director this past November when she put on Just As It Is through the Freshers' Plays. She's currently writing a second play, Common People, which she hopes to put up through Mermaids next year. Show Summary: "When Amy visits her brother Neil in St Andrews one weekend, she expected late night coffee shop revision sessions with people in thick framed glasses. What she didn't expect was a group of flatmates so wildly different from each other, united simply by studentdom. Soon it is clear to Amy that sometimes it isn't the image you project and the things you do that are important, but the people who are there to help you and laugh at you along the way." 602119_586105131400113_632014460_n 

Excerpt from Just As It Is

 (A group of St. Andrews students are sat around, trying to piece together the events of the night before. Suddenly, there's a knock from the 'door' part of the stage) RUDY (woken up by knocking, yells): Who is it?! CRAIG: Shush, Rudy, sleepy time. (JAMES, being the one closest to the 'door' part of the stage goes to answer it.) MARY (to JAMES): Daddy! NEIL: You're a father? JAMES: How long had I blacked out for?? MARY: Oh (looking sad), I'm sorry, was I not suppose to come at this time? I'm a little early, well, half an hour early, but what can I say, it's not every day you get to have brunch with your brand new academic family! JAMES: Ah...ok... MARY (reaches out hand): Mary. Do you not remember me? JAMES: Of course! Mary! (Turns back to Mary and faces others, frowns and shakes head. Turns back to MARY with straight face and exaggerated smile.) How could I forget you, Mary! My daughter! It's all coming back to me. We met in the u- MARY (interjection): Toastie bar. JAMES: Toastie bar! And we bonded over our sub- MARY (interjection): Where we're from. JAMES: Yes! Because we're both from Yo- MARY (interjection): Well we're not technically from the same place but it was close enough and dead exciting. JAMES: Of course. And we were drinkin- MARY: Lemonade. Well you were drinking vodka from a shoe. But I was drinking Lemonade, I'm not much of a drinker you see, (James turns to the others, like before, this time with a look of horror on his face.) I just came out with a few other freshers just to see what it was like. I had bonded with a few ladies from Sallies and we all thought it would be a great lark to get all dolled up and hit the town. (James turns back to her, smiling.) JAMES: That sounds lovely. Well, I'm really sorry but I'm afraid you don't have any other siblings yet, but this can be changed, soon enough. Whilst you're here, would you like to be shown around? MARY: Oh wow! That would be awfully delightful! I've never seen a real-life student house before! Mummy and Daddy always told such great stories about when they were students back at school and the great japes they had pulling pranks on one another. (NEIL and CRAIG have both gotten up from the sofa to join JAMES at the door part and begin to usher MARY towards the 'inside door' part of the stage as they go off stage Craig's voice can be heard.) CRAIG: I bet they did. Now have you ever heard of a chunder bucket before...? (All four exit.) logo  Excerpt by Alice Shearon. Reporting by Emily Grant. Photo credits go to 'Just As It Is' and On the Rocks. The show summary is taken from the On the Rocks 2013 Program.