Entertaining History of a Major British Producing House
Since the mid-Forties the Glasgow Citizens Theatre has been a major force in the development of committed British theater. With a venue - formerly a music hall - right in the Gorbals, once one of the city's poorest areas - it began life as a producing house with hits such as THE GORBALS STORY, a major success that told the story of what life in Glasgow was like for an audience hitherto ignorant of the realities of poverty. Later in that decade luminaries such as James Bridie became associated with the theater, producing new plays as well as pantomimes. The young Stanley Baxter, later to become a major television star, began his career there.
Kath Pick's documentary devoted much of its attention to the theater's history in the Seventies and Eighties, when the triumvirate of Philip Prowse, Giles Havergal, and Robert David Macdonald were in charge. They established a legendary reputation for producing radical interpretations of classics old and new - for example, Noel Coward's THE VORTEX - as well as translations of European classics rendered into English. They not only attracted stars such as Glenda Jackson, but provided a training-ground for actors at the start of their careers such as Rupert Everett.
The historical aspect of the theater was juxtaposed with a look at the present-day theater under director Dominic Hill. In the seventieth anniversary season he had planned an ambitious program including a new Scottish play as well as an adaptation of Alasdair Gray's LANARK, a sprawling drama that required a great of literary as well as technical ingenuity. The fact that it proved successful both in Edinburgh as well as Glasgow was testament to the Citizens' strength as a producing house.
Shat was perhaps the most heartening aspect of this program was the way in which successive directors remained committed to the social as well as the artistic function of theater as a means of educating audiences of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds. Even in an age of shrinking subsidies the Citizens still manages to maintain an exceptionally high quality product.
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