The ticket sales, which opened in early February at the Tramway, have proved popular.
National Theatre of Scotland (NTS) Executive Producer Neil Murray said:- ”You always hope you are going to sell out. I think early indications are that it’s going to be very busy. Alan Cumming brings a little bit of stardust and the piece, Macbeth, in Scotland, is always an attractive title. But yeah, we’re very optimistic it’s going to do well.”
Macbeth is the first Shakespeare that NTS have staged in their six year history. The play reunites the burgeoning creative partnership of actor Alan Cumming and director John Tiffany, who previously worked together on the NTS production of The Bacchae which premiered at The Edinburgh International Festival in 2007.
Murray continued:- ”We wanted to have a really good reason for doing Shakespeare.” When Cumming approached the NTS with the idea that he would play all the characters in ‘The Scottish play’ it was the perfect marriage of performer and play for them. Murray added: “It had to be the right idea, it had to be the right person, it had to be the right time and all those things have conspired together, which is great.”
The NTS has chosen to premiere their radical reimagining of Macbeth at the Tramway, rather than in a more conventional theatre. This exciting and experimental South side space has seen many seminal productions staged there, including Peter Brook’s The Mahabharata in 1988. Murray said: “There’s something more exciting on this occasion to do it at that big, rough, kind of hewn space, maybe play with that, play with the dynamics of it.”
Macbeth will open this June and the tone of the production is big and bold. Murray said: “We’re not making a small intimate piece. It’s going to be a big statement in terms of the design of it and the space we’re using. Partly because the Tramway is a big wide performance space; you need to really fill and take ownership of that space.
“And then similarly, when we go to the Lincoln Centre in New York, that’s a very big stage, so although the piece is really Alan with two other performers as well, it’s not going to be populated by lots of actors. So the concept of the show has got to be really big and bold I think: that’s what we’re aiming to do.”
Cumming is now in training for this role. Murray said:- ”He’s excited and terrified in equal measure, I think. He’s getting himself very physically fit to do it. Macbeth is a demanding part if you do it as part of a big company, but when you do all that text yourself and all those roles, who knows what it will do to him. He’s kind of up for it. The great thing about Alan is he’s an amazingly brave and committed performer.”
The NTS Glasgow season of Macbeth starring Alan Cumming runs from 13 – 30 June, 2012 at the Tramway Theatre.
Glasgow’s Tramway Theatre underwent a transformation yesterday. The metamorphosis saw the state-of-the-art venue in the city’s South side become a virtual circus, complete with clowns, fire-eaters, stiltwalking butterflies, and acrobats. What better environment to celebrate the 2010 Royal Mail Awards for Scottish Children’s Books?
Ringmaster Janice Forsyth, charged with overseeing the proceedings, spoke of fulfilling her dream of running off to join the circus, which was met with an applause that seemed to imply it was a dream that was shared by many of the 500 young people in attendance.
Record numbers were involved this year, which saw over 16,000 children from all over the country voting for their favourite books, an increase of 1,000 over last year, and 11,000 since the awards began.
“I think that is an absolutely tremendous achievement” said, Minister for Skills and Lifelong Learning, Angela Constance, “I really do think that The Scottish Book Trust has to be congratulated for the growth and success of these awards.”
In the Early years category (0-7) – named the Bookbug Readers Category after the new identity created for The Scottish Book Trust by nominee Debi Gliori – Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson won the award for her picture book What the Ladybird Heard, illustrated by Lydia Monks. Unfortunately Donaldson was unable to attend the ceremony, however she did send a video message and said she was this time “saved from despair”. Previously she was shortlisted three times and went home empty handed.
MSP Angela Constance commented on The Scottish Government’s “very strong relationship with the Scottish Book Trust”, explaining that the government had invested one million pounds to allow for the Bookbug reading project to continue.
Barry Hutchison picked up the award in the Younger Readers category (8-11) for his debut novel: Invisible Fiends – Mr Mumbles. The novel’s plot details had some of the adults in attendance squirming in their seats as the terrifying Mr Mumbles – who from all accounts sounds like Freddy Krueger’s little brother, and just as frightening – was introduced to the audience by a selection of pupils from various schools in a pre-produced video.
In his acceptance speech Hutchison, whose reputation amongst the younger members of the audience was obvious from the rapturous applause he received simply upon entering the theatre, remarked: “Anyone who has ever been to one of my events before will probably have heard me talking about my phobia of clowns. So you can imagine my delight when I was told that today’s ceremony was going to have a circus theme.”
Previous winner, Catherine MacPhail, collected the award for the Older Readers category (12-16) for Grass, another obvious favourite judging by the audience’s response. “To win this wonderful award once was exciting enough,” said the author, “but to win it twice, I still can’t quite believe it’s true”.
The ceremony may have been theatrical, and the award announcements, as Forsyth acknowledged, may have had more than a little of the pomp and grandeur that will surely accompany this Sunday’s Oscars. But, as Angela Constance pointed out, the underlying focus of events like these is to improve child literacy and get young people excited about reading:-”We are incredibly fortunate to have so many excellent authors and illustrators from across the country to inspire our future writers. The development of literacy skills is, of course, a key focus of the Curriculum for Excellence and these awards play an important role in encouraging reading and writing in the younger generation.”
And with that, the 2010 Royal Mail Awards for Scottish Children’s Books was brought to an end. Big tops packed up, make up wiped off, and clown shoes stowed away for next year, but most importantly, the 16,000 young people involved in this year’s awards have in the process been enthused about reading.
Surely a statistic which reinforces The Scottish Book Trust as a success.