Skip to main content

A Play, A Pie and A Pint - The CATS Whiskers


When David MacLennan founded A Play, A Pie and A Pint at Oran Mor in 
2004, his first season of lunchtime plays with refreshments included in 
the ticket price was a modest affair. Eight years on, and having 
presented some 250 new works, as MacLennan gets set to receive the 
Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland's inaugural CATS Whiskers award 
for Outstanding Achievement, A Play, A Pie and A Pint now looks like a 
genuine theatrical phenomenon that was seriously ahead of the game.

With initial seasons seemingly pulled together with the help of 
MacLennan's extensive address book of Scottish theatre movers and 
shakers, it was as if those seemingly left in the theatrical wilderness 
after grants for companies such as the MacLennan-led Wildcat company 
had been cut had suddenly rediscovered their mojo. With no tradition of 
lunchtime theatre in Scotland, A Play, A Pie and A Pint served up works 
 from veteran writers such as Peter MacDougall that were more serious 
than the sort of froth one might expect from such a forum. Actors such 
as David Hayman and Robbie Coltrane took to the stage for the first  
time in years. Pretty soon, writers such as David Greig, David 
Harrower, Jo Clifford, Morna Pearson and many others grew ever bolder 
in form and content in what had become a low-risk showcase for writers 
to explore short-form playwriting with often startling results.

Connections were forged, first with Bewley's Lunchtime Theatre in 
Dublin, then with the Traverse, the National Theatre of Scotland and 
others. Many plays at Oran Mor have found second or third lives, and 
the Play, Pie and A Pint web is now far-reaching, with the current One 
Day in Spring mini-season of middle eastern writers the perfect example 
of how ambitious the work has become. All this without a penny of 
direct public funding.

When A Play, A Pie and A Pint began, the recession had yet to hit arts 
funding. Now, with theatre companies forced to be creative with limited 
budgets, MacLennan and co look like pioneers.
With Creative Scotland's review of how it funds major arts companies 
currently causing justifiable anger among the artists Creative Scotland 
serves, A Play, A Pie and A Pint is a glaring example of how artist-led 
initiatives can thrive in difficult times. Watch and learn, Creative 
Scotland, because A Play, A Pie and A Pint really is the CATS Whiskers.

Critics Awards For Theatre in Scotland, Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Sunday 
June 10th, 3pm

The Herald, June 4th 2012

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Futureproof 2017

Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow until February 4th 2018
Four stars

Now in its ninth year, Futureproof's showcase of recent graduate photographers from seven Scottish art schools and universities returns to its spiritual home at Street Level, with nineteen artists embracing photo essays, abstraction and constructed narratives. It is Karlyn Marshall's Willies, Beuys and Me that grabs you first. Tucked in a corner, this depiction of a woman impersonating iconic artist Joseph Beuys says much about gender stereotyping, and recalls Manfred Karge's play, Man to Man, in which a German woman took on her dead husband's identity.

The personal and the political converge throughout. Ben Soedera's Foreign Sands contrasts natural resources and the constructed world. Gareth and Gavin Bragdon's The Bragdon Brothers moves onto the carnivalesque streets of Edinburgh. Kieran Delaney's Moments also looks at the apparently ordinary. Matthew Buick goes further afield, as tourists…

James Ley - Love Song to Lavender Menace

James Ley had never heard of Lavender Menace when he won an LGBT History Month Scotland Cultural Commission award to write a new play. While Edinburgh's pioneering gay book shop that existed between 1982 and 1987 before reinventing itself in new premises as West and Wilde wasn't on Ley's radar, he had vaguely heard of the Gentlemen's Head Quarters, the nickname for the public toilet that existed at the east end of Princes Street outside Register House. He was also half aware of Fire Island, the legendary gay nightclub that existed at the west end of Princes Street in a space that now forms the top floor of Waterstone's book shop.

As he discovered, Fire Island was a central focal point for what was then a still largely underground gay scene in Edinburgh's capital. Alongside the likes of the Laughing Duck pub on Howe Street, Fire Island was one of the few places where HI-NRG music could be heard in what would these days be dubbed a safe space for gay men and wo…