Skip to main content

Rachel O'Riodan - Perth Theatre's 2012/13 Season

There’s a window built into the roof of Perth Theatre’s brightly lit 
bar that won't open. This bothers Rachel O’Riordan, and has done so 
ever since the Irish-born creative director for theatre at Horsecross 
Arts first arrived in Perth to breathe fresh life into one of 
Scotland’s most important rep institutions a year ago. For all the 
energy that goes on in the building, it seems, that window retains its 
somewhat stifling presence.

While there's little to be done about that window until the theatre's 
planned renovation takes place over the next three years, it hasn't 
prevented O'Riordan from turning the place as it currently exists 
upside down in an artistic sense at least. In her first season, 
O'Riordan's back to back productions of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, 
Frank McGuinness' hostage drama, Someone Who'll Watch Over Me and Ron 
Hutchinson's Hollywood romp, Moonlight and Magnolias, stacked up to 
make an impressive calling card. While on the surface these were tried 
and tested works, each production, in very different ways, mined 
elements of comedy and tragedy in a stylistically distinctive 
twenty-first century manner.

O'Riordan also hooked up with A Play, A Pie and A Pint to present a new 
lunchtime play in the bar, Cold Turkey, by Perth 
writer, Ben Tagoe, and brought the National Theatre of Scotland's 
production of Men Should Weep to Perth as part of the theatre's 
visiting programme.

The announcement of O'Riordan's second season, exclusively revealed in 
the Herald today alongside plans for Perth Theatre's future, shows off 
even more of the directors ambitions for Perth as a major producing 
house. This year O'Riordan will direct all four in-house productions, 
including Christmas show, Mother Goose. The other three will feature 
work by contemporary writers, including a major coup in co-production 
with the Lyric Theatre, Belfast.

Opening the season will be The Odd Couple, Neil Simon's New York comedy 
about two very different room-mates. It will finish with April in 
Paris, John Godber's look at an elderly northern English couple who win 
a French holiday. With Aberdeen Touring Arts' new staging of Robin 
Jenkins' novel, The Cone Gatherers, touring to Perth in the Autumn 
prior to Mother Goose, 2013 will begin in earnest with The Seafarers, 
by author of The Weir, Conor McPherson. First seen in 2006 at the 
National Theatre in London, McPherson's quasi-supernatural yarn set 
around a game of poker went on to become a hit on Broadway. O'Riordan's 
new production will not only be the play's Scots premiere, but its 
transfer to the Lyric will mark its first appearance in Northern 
Ireland as well.

“The main objective with this new season is to put on exquisite writing 
by great playwrights,” O'Riordan enthuses. “They're all so different, 
but The Seafarer is my baby. I've wanted to direct it for years. It's 
an extraordinary play about alcoholism, the Devil and redemption, and 
it's the most extraordinarily moving and intelligent piece of writing 
about the human condition I've read for years.

“By the same token,” O'Riordan continues, “Neil Simon is a very 
different but equally exquisite playwright. If you look at Frasier or 
Friends, they're all in a direct line from Simon's work. But in light 
of recent discussions on blogs about female casting, we're doing the 
female version. This allows six strong female actors to really get 
their teeth into comic roles in a way that they don't always get to do 

By her own admission, April in Paris wasn't on O'Riordan's wish-list of 
plays to do. When she read it, however, she discovered that “it really 
taps into this idea that we're all supposed to be socially mobile, yet 
all this couple discover once they get back from Paris is that it'll 
never happen again. In a time of recession, it's an important play that 
exposes that lie in a warm and human way that's full of heart.”

If all bodes well, there will also be another co-production with A 
Play, A Pie and A Pint featuring a brand new work by Frank McGuinness. 
In the longer term, O'Riordan is in development to produce a major 
site-specific piece set to take place at Perth railway station, which 
was one of the main assembly points for soldiers during the second 
world war. She also has her sights set on a large-scale community 
production, and once the new Perth Theatre building opens in 2015, 
O'Riordan aims to bring in young writers and directors to develop work 
in the new studio space.

“I feel incredibly positive,” she says. “We are lucky that we have an 
audience that is educated, literate and committed. My challenge is to 
keep on refreshing that. Doing a play in the bar was an unknown 
quantity, especially as it was a comedy about heroin addiction, but it 
went down a storm and sold out. So there is an audience here who are 
willing to take a risk more than they're sometimes given credit for. I 
think once the audience trust me enough to realise that everything I'm 
doing is for them, then that allows them to feel like they can take a 
punt now and then. Having said that, there is no point in doing what we 
do to nobody. It would be foolish and arrogant to programme something 
nobody wanted to see just because I fancied directing it.”

O'Riordan's desire to connect with her audience goes further.

“I  want people to feel something,” she says. “I don't mean that 
metaphorically. I really want people to come out of that theatre 
affected in some way. I really want the work we do to reach out 

Beyond the plans she's already set down, O'Riordan is exploring further 
collaborations, and is in preliminary talks with Dundee Rep, the Royal 
Lyceum in Edinburgh, and an as yet un-named company in New York.

“I go looking for partnerships,” she says, “but it takes two, and 
people can say no. But everyone knows these are tricky times 
financially, so no-one can afford to stay in any kind of ivory tower 
anymore. I'm continually surprised by the resilience and the spirit of 
the theatre scene here in Scotland. There's so much going on here, and 
its very collegiate in terms of people supporting each other.”

In terms of Perth itself, O'Riordan has got off to a flying start, and, 
on paper, at least, her plans for the future promise much for the 
audience she so clearly respects. Despite the fickle nature of 
ambitious theatre directors, she also sounds like she's in it for the 
long haul.

“We have work to do here,” O'Riordan says, “but that work has started, 
and achieving what we did in that first season was quite exciting. I'm 
immersed in my role now, which took a while. It's interesting how long 
it takes to fully inhabit a role. If the first season seemed like 
rehearsals and previews, then this new season feels like I'm in a run. 
It's nice not to be the new girl anymore, ” she says, eyeing up the 
window that may yet be forced open.

Tickets for Perth Theatre’s new season go on sale to the public on July 
24th. Season ticket subscribers can book their preferred seats now.

The Herald, July 17th 2012



Popular posts from this blog

Big Gold Dreams – A Story of Scottish Independent Music 1977-1989

Disc 1
1. THE REZILLOS (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures (12/77)  2. THE EXILE Hooked On You (8/77)
3. DRIVE Jerkin’ (8/77)
4. VALVES Robot Love (9/77)
5. P.V.C. 2 Put You In The Picture (10/77)
6. JOHNNY & THE SELF ABUSERS Dead Vandals (11/77)
7. BEE BEE CEE You Gotta Know Girl (11/77)
8. SUBS Gimme Your Heart (2/78)
9. SKIDS Reasons (No Bad NB 1, 4/78)
10. FINGERPRINTZ Dancing With Myself (1/79) 
11. THE ZIPS Take Me Down (4/79)
12. ANOTHER PRETTY FACE All The Boys Love Carrie (5/79) 
13. VISITORS Electric Heat (5/79)
14. JOLT See Saw (6/79)
15. SIMPLE MINDS Chelsea Girl (6/79)
16. SHAKE Culture Shock (7/79)
17. HEADBOYS The Shape Of Things To Come (7/79)
18. FIRE EXIT Time Wall (8/79)
19. FREEZE Paranoia (9/79)
20. FAKES Sylvia Clarke (9/79)
21. TPI She’s Too Clever For Me (10/79)
22. FUN 4 Singing In The Showers (11/79)
23. FLOWERS Confessions (12/79)
24. TV21 Playing With Fire (4/80)
25. ALEX FERGUSSON Stay With Me Tonight (1980)

1. THE REZILLOS I Can’t Stand My Baby (Sensible FAB 18/77) If it wasn’t for T…

Clybourne Park

Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy Four Stars
It’s a case of whoops, there goes the neighbourhood twice over in Rapture Theatre’s revival of Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play, which opens in 1959 in the same Chicago suburb where Lorraine Hansberry’s drama, A Raisin in the Sun, which appeared that year, is set. Here, Robin Kingsland’s Russ and his wife Bev, played by Jackie Morrison, are preparing to move out of their now almost empty des-res following a family tragedy.
Unknown to them, the bargain basement price tag has enabled a black family to move in, with Jack Lord’s uptight Karl a self-appointed spokesperson for the entire ‘hood. Russ and Bev’s black maid Francine (Adelaide Obeng) and her husband Albert (Vinta Morgan), meanwhile, bear witness to a barrage of everyday racism. Fast forward half a century, and a white family are trying to buy the same house, albeit with a heap of proposed changes which the black couple representing the block’s now much more diverse community aren’t…

Losing Touch With My Mind - Psychedelia in Britain 1986-1990

1. THE STONE ROSES  - Don’t Stop 2. SPACEMEN 3  - Losing Touch With My Mind (Demo) 3. THE MODERN ART  - Mind Train 4. 14 ICED BEARS  - Mother Sleep 5. RED CHAIR FADEAWAY - Myra 6. BIFF BANG POW!  - Five Minutes In The Life Of Greenwood Goulding 7. THE STAIRS - I Remember A Day 8. THE PRISONERS - In From The Cold 9. THE TELESCOPES  - Everso 10. THE SEERS  - Psych Out 11. MAGIC MUSHROOM BAND - You Can Be My L-S-D 12. THE HONEY SMUGGLERS  - Smokey Ice-Cream 13. THE MOONFLOWERS - We Dig Your Earth 14. THE SUGAR BATTLE  - Colliding Minds 15. GOL GAPPAS  - Albert Parker 16. PAUL ROLAND - In The Opium Den 17. THE THANES - Days Go Slowly By 18. THEE HYPNOTICS  - Justice In Freedom (12" Version)

1. THE STONE ROSES Don’t Stop ( SilvertoneORE1989)
The trip didn’t quite start here for what sounds like Waterfall played backwards on The Stone Roses’ era-defining eponymous debut album, but it sounds like it. Vocalist Ian Brown and guitarist John Squire met in 1980 at Altrincham Grammar School. With bassist …