It's initially an odd sensation seeing Dominic Hill in Edinburgh. So
immersed has the artistic director of the Citizen's Theatre been in his
own ambitious programme since he took over the Gorbals-based
institution that it's rare to even see him out of the building. Yet
here he is, in a windowless meeting room in the Royal Lyceum Theatre on
Grindlay Street to give the Herald an exclusive look at the Citz's
forthcoming autumn season, tickets for which go on sale today.
Perhaps Hill's appearance shouldn't be regarded as too off-piste. Prior
to his appointment at the Citizens in 2011, he spent three years as
artistic director of the Traverse Theatre, a stone's throw away from
the Royal Lyceum. More recently, Hill scored one of his biggest hits of
the last year with his production of Crime and Punishment, with Chris
Hannan's stage version of Dostoyevsky's novel being co-produced by the
Citizens and Royal Lyceum Theatres in association with Liverpool's
Everyman and Playhouse.
With Crime and Punishment nominated for several CATS awards next month
as the highlight of a season that also included Sherlock actress Louise
Brealey taking the title role in Miss Julie, the relationship between
the Citz and the Royal Lyceum continues with the world premiere of a
new play by DC Jackson. Kill Johnny Glendenning finds Jackson moving
into more grown-up terrain than his earlier work in a comic look at the
Glasgow underworld that opens at the Royal Lyceum in a production
directed by the theatre's artistic director, Mark Thomson, before
transferring to the Citizens in October.
“It's a very funny play,” says Hill, fresh from his production of
Stephen Jeffreys' play about the self-destructive ways of the second
Earl of Rochester, The Libertine. “It's set in Hyndland and Ayrshire,
and draws on certain mythologies of the Glasgow persona in terms of
gangsterism and machismo. As a play it follows in the tradition of
things that we've done here like Glasgow Girls and Takin' Over The
Asylum, and should be a riotous night out.”
Prior to Jackson's play, the Citizens opens its autumn season with the
only Scottish dates of Headlong's acclaimed stage version of George
Orwell's iconic novel, 1984.This will be followed by the season's
centre-piece, a new production of Hamlet directed by Hill, who will be
tackling his first Shakespeare since casting David Hayman as King Lear
in his inaugural season at the Citz.
“We haven't done a Shakespeare for a while,” says Hill, “and the Citz
has a tradition of doing Shakespeares and big classic plays, so it
Hamlet will feature Brian Ferguson, who first came to prominence in
Davey Anderson's play Snuff, before working with Hill at the Traverse,
in the title role.
“I've wanted to do it with Brian playing Hamlet ever since I worked
with him at the Traverse,” Hill says. “For me, I think Brian is a
thoughtful and intelligent actor, and he has great sensitivity, which
are all qualities you need to bring to that character.”
Also appearing in Hamlet will be real life couple, Roberta Taylor and
Peter Guinness, who play Gertrude and Claudius, respectively. With
Taylor a former alumni of the Citz's 1970s acting company, this
provides an umbilical link the theatre's colourful past, which has
included several significant Hamlets.
“There's a nice connection with the past there,” says Hill, “and I
think that continuum is really important. It's a big part of what the
Citz was and is, and I think it's right that we celebrate it.”
Hamlet will be followed by a visit from the National Theatre of
Scotland, who are touring Graham McLaren's reinvention of Joe Corrie's
play, In Time O'Strife. As with Kill Johnny Glendenning which it
precedes, In Time O'Strife continues the strand of Scottish-based work
that Hill talks of, and which runs in tandem with the Citizens'
expansive and internationalist approach.
This continues with a visit by Mull Theatre with their stage version of
Whisky Galore, while Gaelic theatre company, White Stag, bring a double
bill of plays, Tomas and Fantom, to the theatre's Circle Studio space.
While Tomas is a Gaelic version of Robert Burns' epic narrative poem,
Tam O'Shanter, Fantom is inspired by a nineteenth century serial killer
on Harris and Lewis.
After The Libertine, more decadent poets will be seen onstage when
Citizens resident company, Untitled Projects revive Pamela Carter's
dramatic study of the love affair between poets Verlaine and Rimbaud,
Slope. Originally produced by Untitled at Tramway in 2006, Slope sees
director Stewart Laing revisit the play for the Glasgay! festival in a
production reconfigured for a studio setting.
“I think Stewart wanted the play to be seen again,” says Hill, “because
Pamela's had quite a lot of success since it was first done, and
sometimes I don't think she gets as much attention as a writer as she
Hill will end 2014 with Charles Dickens' classic tale, A Christmas
Carol, seen here in Neil Bartlett's dramatisation of the book.
“Neil Bartlett has always been a great supporter of the Citz,” says
Hill, “and when we applied for the rights he sent me a lovely note. His
version was first done at the Lyric Hammersmith, which he used to run,
and which is a very similar space to the Citizens, so it feels like a
With the Citizens Theatre's seventieth anniversary due in 2015 and
fund-raising for a massive redevelopment of the building ongoing, the
artistic and commercial success of Hill's programming is an asset that
continues to respect the theatre's past while looking continually
“The Citz is a building that's very aware of its cultural heritage,”
Hill points out, “and while I want to make it new, I think it's only
right that we use the resources and the assets that we have. We're
about to be going into a period of huge change with the Capital Project
to redevelop the building, so we talk a lot about its heritage, and it
feels good to keep that alive.”
Tickets for the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow's Autumn 2014 season go on
The Citz's autumn 2014 season in miniature.
1984 - August 29- September 6
Headlong’s co-production with Nottingham Playhouse and Almeida Theatre
of George Orwell’s dystopian fantasy comes direct from its West End run
to the Citizens for its only Scottish dates.
Hamlet - September 19-October 11
Dominic Hill directs Shakespeare’s most-performed play with Brian
Ferguson in the title role, and featuring Roberta Taylor and Peter
Guinness in the cast. Previous Citz Hamlets have included 1970's
all-male version of the play starring David Hayman, a 1981 production
set in a psychiatric hospital, a 1993 studio version starring Henry Ian
Cusick and Helen Baxendale, and a 1996 production with Cal MacAninch
and Sophie Ward.
In Time O’ Strife - October 14-18
National Theatre of Scotland bring Graham McLaren's reinvention of Joe
Corrie’s 1926 play about striking Fife miners to Glasgow in a vividly
modern production. The last production of Corrie’s play was by 7:84 at
the Citizens Theatre in 1982.
Tomas & Fantom - October 22-25
White Stag Theatre company bring two new Gaelic plays to the Circle
Studio. Tomas is a new Gaelic version of the epic Burns poem, Tam
O'Shanter, while Fantom is based on the legend of the serial-killer Mac
an t-Sronaich who terrorised the population of Harris and Lewis in the
1830s. Liz Carruthers directs.
Kill Johnny Glendenning - October 23-November 8
DC Jackson's latest comic play looks to the Glasgow underworld, tabloid
celebrities and the macho glamour of the gangster life in this
co-production with the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, Jackson's
previous plays have included his adolescent trilogy, The Wall, The
Ducky and The Chooky Brae, and episodes of Channel 4's student-set
comedy drama, Fresh Meat.
Slope – November 12-22
First seen at Tramway in 2006, Stewart Laing's Untitled Projects revive
Pamela Carter’s play, Slope, about the love affair between
nineteenth-century poets Verlaine and Rimbaud and its impact on
Verlaine’s young wife Mathilde.
Whisky Galore - November 12-15
Mull Theatre tour their ingenious radio play pastiche of this much
loved tale to Glasgow.
A Christmas Carol – November 29-January 3
Neil Bartlett's version of Charles Dickens' much loved novel is this
year's Christmas show at the Citz.
The Herald, May 20th 2014