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Putting on the Citz - Citizens Theatre's Autumn Season 2012


Dominic Hill is looking relaxed. Perched floppily on a chair on one 
side of his office, one might even suggest that the expression on the 
artistic director of the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow's face suggests he 
is positively pleased with himself. As well he might after his 
inaugural season of classic plays put Scotland's original international 
emporium back on the map.

Given that Hill cast Cal MacAninch in Harold Pinter's 1970s love 
triangle play Betrayal, oversaw David Hayman's first appearance at the 
Citz for more than two decades in an epic take on Shakespeare's King 
Lear and put a Samuel Beckett double bill of Krapp's Last Tape and 
Footfalls on the main stage, it's not hard to see why. While Hill is 
understandably in repose after directing these three shows back to 
back, the tricky bit comes in how to follow up such a striking calling 
card. The answer for Hill is to programme another season of expansively 
inclined work, mainly in co-productions with other companies, while 
Hill himself will concentrate on directing his first Citizens Christmas 
show.

“I feel really good,” says Hill as he reflects on the season. “I think 
it's gone better than I could've expected. The press has been fabulous. 
The PR has been great. The thing that we needed to do was to put the 
Citz back on the map with lots of shows with a consistency of work, 
and, most importantly of all, to get people to come to see the work, I 
think that's all been achieved. The Beckett was the real sort of 
surprise to me. It was only on for a short time, and I didn't think people 
would come, but the response to it was amazing. With Footfalls, I 
thought people might wonder what the hell it was, but people have come 
out saying they'd no idea what it meant, but thought it was awesome. 
The important thing about the Beckett as well was that they were done 
on the main stage. So at the moment it's all a case of so far so good. 
The real test is what happens now, because people need to come back.”

With what's on offer, this shouldn't be too much of a problem. While 
first out of the traps will be a visit from Communicado with a revival 
of Gerry Mulgrew's take on Tam O'Shanter, the first Citizens 
co-production will be on a production of Euripides' Greek classic, 
Medea. This will be in partnership with Headlong, who last visited the 
Citz with their epic production of Angels in America. It will b e 
written and directed by rising star Mike Bartlett, who is currently in 
the midst of a stage version of Chariots of Fire to tie in with the 
Olympic Games, and whose most recent play, Love Love Love, toured to 
the Citz.

“I've always said we're doing two things,” says Hill, “which are 
classic plays done for a contemporary audience, and alongside that will 
be new Glasgow plays. So Medea very much fits the former, and it felt 
very right for us. I think Mike Bartlett's a terrific writer, and that 
Headlong is an exciting company. Medea's a very interesting subject 
matter for today, both in terms of parents who kill their children, 
which there seems to be a lot more about in the news, and in Medea 
being an outsider, an immigrant trying to fit into an alien society. I 
remember when I first read it how modern it felt.”

Following Medea will be Glasgow Girls, the much anticipated musical 
 from Cora Bissett, who scored a major hit with Roadkill. Anyone who saw 
the work in progress of Bissett's latest show as part of Edinburgh 
International Festival will already know just how moving her look at 
the true story about seven young women asylum seekers who took on both 
the Scottish Government and the Home Office already was. Since then, a 
multitude of partners, including the Citz, where Bissett is currently 
artist in residence, and the national Theatre of Scotland, have come on 
board for the show. Featuring original songs by Bissett and a host of 
singers, rappers and musicians, the show's title track, We are the 
Glasgow Girls, by MC Soom T, is about to be released by the NTS.

“This is something that is important in its subject matter,” Hill 
observes, “and is something which has a big popular appeal for 
audiences in Glasgow and beyond. David Greig's on board now writing it, 
and it's very important to me that it opens here. I think its going to 
have massive integrity, but I also think it's going to be fab.”

Next up, Hill himself will direct Rufus Norris' version of Sleeping 
Beauty. While not readily associated with Christmas shows, Hill's 
wide-screen approach has previously been applied to several  during his 
time at Dundee Rep, while he also directed Chris Hannan's take on The 
Three Musketeers at the Traverse.

“I like Christmas shows,” he says. “This one especially is funny, but 
it's also very dark. Sleeping Beauty can sometimes be quite an insipid 
story, but this one has real energy and oomph, and I think it's really 
classy and impactful.”

Moving into 2013, Hill aims to open the year with a yet to be scheduled 
classic. Already announced is a co-production with the Royal Lyceum in 
Edinburgh that will find writer Donna Franceschild adapting her much 
acclaimed TV drama, Takin' Over the Asylum, which first introduced Ken 
Stott and David Tennant to the world.

“That's a script that first came to me at the Traverse,” Hill explains, 
“and I loved the TV series. Again, it's a Glasgow story with a wide 
appeal, and I think that is right for here.”

While ostensibly taking a breather from the rehearsal room, the new 
season also allows Hill to take stock of where the Citz is at.

“I couldn't do the same again,” he says of directing three shows on the 
trot, “because it would kill me, and I think it would also bore the 
audience. I think it's important to bring in other directors, and I'm 
also testing what works and what doesn't.”

Hill might not be directing a Citz production until Sleeping Beauty, 
but he's far from idle. Inbetween programming the Citz, he is working 
on a production of Company by Stephen Sondheim with students at the 
Royal Conservatoire in Glasgow. This show will play at this year's 
Edinburgh Festival Fringe in an infinitely more lo-fi venue than Hill 
is used to.

“I'm quite looking forward to that whole Fringe experience,” he says,  
“because I've never really done it since I was a student.”

In the recent merry-go-round of directorships that have occurred since 
Hill took up his post at the Citz, the most tantalising is the vacancy 
at the National Theatre of Scotland following Vicky Featherstone's 
forthcoming departure to the Royal Court in London. Given Hill's 
expertise, both in running a company and in knowing how to navigate a 
big stage better than a lot of of his contemporaries, for many he is a 
natural for the job. Hill, however, begs to differ.

“We've got a lovely theatre here,” he says, “and I love having a 
building. That's what I've always wanted, and think this building suits 
me. I've got lists of plays I want to do here, and I want to work my 
way through them. It feels like I've only just started.”

Tickets for the Citizens Theatre's autumn season go on sale from today
www.citz.co.uk

The Herald, June 19th 2012

ends

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