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Showing posts from May, 2018

Wils Wilson – Peter Handke and The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other

It’s lunchtime on Lothian Road, and the people who make up the everyday community of one of Edinburgh’s main thoroughfares are out in force. Grinning charity collectors are dotted about the area close to the row of display boards advertising shows for the Usher Hall and the Lyceum and Traverse theatres. They go largely ignored by the passers-by hurrying in both directions, but in a natural stage area, the occasional person stops, drawn in by the charity collectors’ well-meaning spiel.
On the corner of Grindlay Street, a gaggle of teenage girls in tracksuit bottoms are stretching their legs in the air, as if they’ve either just been to or are en route to a dance class. Opposite the Lyceum, the doors of what was once the student-friendly Citrus nightclub are wide open, revealing a husk of a place about to be converted into something more corporate by the group of noisy builders barging in and out of the club.
It’s not hard to imagine such everyday incidents forming part of the Lyceum’s ep…

The Angry Brigade

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow Four stars
A very English cup of tea begins and ends James Graham’s rapid-fire study of the incendiary fall-out of 1960s idealism, when the dangerous ideas learnt by the young generation raised in the ashes of what poet Jeff Nuttall dubbed bomb culture blew up in everybody’s faces.
Graham’s forensic deciphering of real life events when a group of Stoke Newington anarchists vented their spleen by bombing such establishment totems as the Miss World contest at the Royal Albert Hall and swinging fashion emporium Biba is a masterful Yin and Yang-like construction. While the first half focuses on Special Branch’s attempts to get inside the minds of the terrorists, the second shows the same time-line of events from within the pressure-cooker existence of the Brigade’s alternative lifestyle.
Debbie Hannan’s production, performed with energetic zeal by final year BA acting students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, initially resembles an episode of Life on Mars s…

Glenn Branca obituary

Glenn Branca, composer, musician
Born October 6, 1948; died May 13 2018
Glenn Branca, who has died aged 69 from throat cancer, was a musical iconoclast whose appliance of a barrage of post-punk guitars found its voice in New York’s No Wave scene. He invested his series of increasingly ferocious-sounding symphonies with a classical sensibility that found both influence and respect, even as he continued to push his minimalist compositions to the limit. Without Branca’s unflinching and coruscating way with a guitar, bands such as Sonic Youth and Swans might not have applied their own form of experimentalism to similarly-inclined ear-bleeding washes of noise.
Branca was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to John and Dee Branca. As a child he acted at the local community theatre, and developed an interest in Broadway musicals. As a teenager he branched out into rock music, and started playing guitar aged fifteen. He was also attracted to making tape-based sound collages. Between 1966 and 1967…

Debbie Hannan – The Angry Brigade

Terrorism is very much on Debbie Hannan’s mind just now. While the Glasgow-born theatre director can’t help but be aware of today’s world of highly organised attacks, she’s looking more at a time when assaults on culture were more ad hoc and DIY.
This is the backdrop to The Angry Brigade, James Graham’s 2014 play, which Hannan directs this week in the Citizens Theatre’s suitably intimate Circle Studio with a cast of final year BA acting students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. The play is named after the group who, for a year beginning in 1970, orchestrated an estimated twenty-five bombings on targets that included banks, embassies, the homes of Conservative MPs and the 1970 Miss World contest.
The Angry Brigade’s key players were arrested after being holed up in a top-floor flat in London, and the trial of what became known as the Stoke Newington Eight went on to become what was then the longest criminal trial in English legal history.
Graham’s dramatic study of the era is a …