Why did Glasgow University need another theatre society?

[Written by Amanda Landegren, Publicity Coordinator for GIST]

[Image Credit: GIST//Facebook.com]

With the current existence of over five other performing arts societies, was there really space—and need—for yet another theatre society at the university? When looking to the anglo-centrism of the content performed, the answer was a firm but enthusiastic yes! GIST, Glasgow International Student Theatre, was created last year with the intention of bringing attention to theatre from around the world. With a goal to perform, promote and celebrate theatre in translation and theatre from lesser known authors, the founders imagined a society where all are welcome, no matter accent, experience or prior knowledge. Looking then at the society’s first year in existence, the members are a small but devoted bunch who all contribute to diversifying the performing arts scene. The great advantage of multiple nationalities is not only cultural insight into the plays, but also the ability to share that insight with others.

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Review – Don Pasquale

Scottish Opera’s Don Pasquale


It seems unfair to compare Scottish Opera’s recent staging of Don Pasquale  to the Met’s production—usually considered the yardstick by which all Don Pasquale  productions are measured—not merely due to the gulf in both the quality and size of the cast, but because much of this new production’s charm comes from its modern reimagining. While the classic story remains the same, it is set in 60s Rome, and a backstory is woven regarding Pasquale’s love of cats, despite an allergy to them. The set is cluttered with ornaments of cats, and Sofronia’s hair subtly sticks up like a cat’s would when she meets for the first time to woo him. In the final scene Sofronia presents him with a particularly feline-looking dog.


Set Designer Andre Barbe creates a wonderfully abstract and understated set of a small Italian pensione, using lines of drying sheets and clothes to transform the minimal staging. The staging is itself played with—a maid struggles to pull down a rope to move the clothes, revealing the setting of the next scene, and comic strip-style speech and thought-bubbles drop down in one scene.


The performance of the cast was decidedly average, other than that of Ruth Jenkins-Robertsson (known mostly for playing Zerlina in the Scottish Opera production of Don Giovanni  last season), whose Norina was spectacular. She’s no Netrebko, but her performance was without fault, and I hope to see her appear in more. The rest of the cast was decent, and while it’s hard to offer much real critism (Pasquale and Malatesta’s mosso  mid-third act aria Aspetta aspetta  was disappointing, but not entirely unexpectedly so—it’s somewhat known for its difficulty), it largely lacked a certain energy. The acting, at times, was a little hammy, but it seemed to fit the opera. Of all the Don Pasquale  productions I’ve seen, this is by far the most unabashedly comic—the music from the garden serenade Com’e gentil  appears to come from a turntable on Ernesto’s bicycle, and is interrupted by a shoe thrown by an irate resident, presumably awoken by the noise. Francesco Corti, returning to conduct after Emmanuel Joel-Hornak’s departure at the end the Company’s last season, performed wonderfully. the music was fresh and largely well-organised, if at times a touch loud.


Widely advertised and anticipated, this revival was a certain success for Scottish Opera, and I’m glad they seem to have gotten over their major worries. The debut performance (24th Jan.) was more-or-less sold out, with a healthy queue at the day tickets desk.


Scottish Opera’s next production is a revival of Sir David McVicar’s Madama Butterfly  by Puccini. The Glasgow premiere is on the 21st May, 2014.


— Anon.


Scottish Opera’s Don Pasquale .

Alfonso Antoniozzi — Don Pasquale

Aldo Di Toro — Ernesto

Ruth Jenkins-R obertsson — Norina / Sofronia

Director: Renaud Doucet

Conductor: Francesco Corti

Designer: Andre Barbe

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Special Performance For The Cecilians

GUM cecilians



Special Performance For The Cecilians & Winter Show Information



Musical theatre society, the Cecilians, are always in high demand during the Christmas season, but this year they were delighted to receive a request like no other, to perform as part of a proposal flashmob in Royal Exchange Square. Organised by Katie Hart and Alex Lyne, a small number of the society’s membership rehearsed Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran’s ‘Everything Has Changed’ for the special occasion.


The society’s president Laura Campbell commented: “We had perhaps unrealistic ambitions to become a youtube phenomenon overnight, so filmed the entire event. It also means the couple’s family have a recording of the big moment.”


Evidently, the experience was special for all involved; with Katie Hart celebrating “ticking performing in a proposal flashmob off my bucket-list”’ and later reflecting, “my legs were shaking so much it was hard to stand still. I was crying by the end.” Meanwhile, other members invested emotionally from a distance, Alex Lyne commenting: “I was gutted I couldn’t be there. I waited with baited breath for the influx of “SHE SAID YES!” messages that bombarded the society’s social media from about 9pm last Saturday night.”


Leading man Will Carlyle posted on the society’s facebook page a heartfelt thanks:
“Thank you so much for making my vision a reality and my fiance’s dreams come true…I’ll be telling everyone about you. Your new biggest fan, Will.”


A proposal flashmob is far from a normal venture for the Cecilian Society, but according to long standing member Ben Galloway the project was “a welcome break from intensifying rehearsals for our upcoming production of ‘Jekyll and Hyde’. It’s not everyday you’re offered the chance to share in one of the most defining moments of someone’s life.


The Cecilian Society was founded in 1952 and turned 61 at the end of October. As they look forward to staging ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ in February 2014, Director Ronan Radin notes “the society are relishing the challenge of a show that will sharply contrast in thematic content and musical style to very successful productions of ‘Annie’, ‘Guys and Dolls’ and ‘Oklahoma’ over the past couple of years.” Laura Campbell adds “‘Jekyll and Hyde’ will see a talented cast of new and returning members and a clear directorial vision from Ronan Radin combine to capture the iconic tale in all its darkness and light; featuring a stunning score handled by musical director Niall Murray and given stage presence by choreographer Catherine Higgins. It’s not to be missed.”


‘Jekyll and Hyde’ will take place in Glasgow’s Mitchell Theatre from Wednesday the 26th February to Saturday the 1st of March, with evening performances at 7.30pm and a matinee performance on the 26th at 2.30pm. Tickets are £13 (adult) and £8 (conc) when purchased in advance, £15 (adult) & £10 (conc) on the door.


Tickets can be purchased by emailing:
[email protected]


Find out more about The Cecilian Society on their facebook, or website

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Review: Metamorphosis, Edinburgh International Festival

Having stunned audiences at the 2011 Edinburgh International Festival with a one man performance of King Lear maverick dramatist Wu Hsing-kuo and the Contemporary Legend Theatre returned to the capital this month to perform Franz Kafka’s iconic novella Metamorphosis.  Gregor Samsa the travelling salesman awakens one day in horror as a giant insect and struggles to cope with his feelings of alienation from the rest of the world.


As with his portrayal of Lear, writer-actor-director Wu dresses the stage with his own blood, the sheer endurance displayed by the 60 year old during his extremely physical performance belies his deep commitment as an artist and his obsession with the author.


Crossing boundaries in all respects; the inclusion of multimedia elements pushes the limits of theatre, while the cross cultural exchange between the 20th century European text and Oriental spirituality alleviates and resolves much of the futility and hopelessness the original narrative evokes. Scripted entirely in Mandarin Wu’s haunting singing is accompanied by translated English subtitles. The simplicity of the spiritual aphorisms of the Mandarin script juxaposed with the complex physicality of Wu’s performance embodies the concept of Saṃsāra, cyclical existence caused by selfishness and the traps of modernity. Only by coming to terms with the absurdity of reality can Gregor escape. As Kafka says “There are only two choices in life. Be yourself or put up with reality.”


Kafka’s monstrous carnation of the beastly insect-man represents a conceptual portrait of Western psychodrama. His flickering antennae and scuttling legs are the Frankenstein collage of the 20th century crisis of consciousness, yet Wu’s finds redemption. After waking up cocooned in insect costume convulsing at the thought of himself he emerges enlightened in stripped, white form as his emancipated soul soars over the mountain, exiting the cycle in the mouth of a bird. The transformation is clear on stage, however the narrative seems to lack any outstanding climatic point until the drawn out ending of the performance.


The man-insect lives in woeful solitude in the confines of his bedroom while his hateful father and wailing mother and sister intermittently interrupt his melancholy self-searching by rapping loudly on the ominous door center stage. Repulsive to those around him, Gregor’s existence becomes that of a pariah. The stage focuses on the looming ice mountain where Wu writhes and squirms in his new arthropodic body as the astonishing visuals by Ethan Wang drape the deconstructed set with pulsating Rorschach blotches, falling Surrealist apples and a superimposed Kafka. The awesome visual beauty projection of visuals onto the set while Wu dances compellingly in Peking Opera style alongside a haunting  score lulls the viewer into a psychotomimetic trance.


The production is 100 minutes long without interlude, the audience feels the crushing weight of Gregor’s condition on their own shoulders and so his eventual death comes as a relief, ending both his struggle against the futility of human existence and the viewer’s own desire for the final curtain to fall. While indeed the production does pose a challenge, Wu’s creation is undoubtedly mesmerising and contains a welcome element of hope and the chance of peace, something Kafka’s original text withholds.


-Hailey Maxwell




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What’s On: Guys and Dolls

The Cecilian Society, Glasgow University’s foremost musical theatre society, proudly present their main show of 2013; Frank Loesser’s hit musical ‘Guys and Dolls’.  The society have previously performed musicals such as ‘Our House’, ‘Anything Goes’, ‘Bugsy Malone’, ‘Oklahoma’ and in September 2012 ‘Little Shop of Horrors’. The society recently celebrated their 60th Anniversary in October, with a fantastic weekend of events including a hit concert packed full of musical classics. Building on the success of this weekend, they now bring this classic American musical to the Mitchell Theatre stage in February. With a cast of over 60 talented people bursting with enthusiasm, it is a must-see event!

Guys and Dolls GUM

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Preview – the Glasgow Comedy Festival

Stuart Humphries gives GUM readers his top 5 Must See Shows of the Glasgow International Comedy Festival

Everyone likes to get treated on their birthdays, and the Glasgow International Comedy Festival is no different. Between the 15th March – 1st April, GCIF turns ten and we are getting spoilt rotten. This year is set to be bigger than ever, and with over 330 comedians coming to town, just picking a show seems like a daunting task. To make things a little easier I give you my 5 must see shows of the GICF: 

1. Simon Munnery: Hats off to the 101ers & Other Material

The Stand, 20th March

Alternative comedy at its finest, Munnery returns to Glasgow with a show which he describes as “an extravagant mess of foaming bubble hats, superlative jokes, bad guitar riffs, delightful monologues, hand-made engineering feats and an overly ambitious one-man punk musical about the R101 airship of the 1930s.”

2. Late Night Gimp Fight

The Tron Theatre, 30th/31st March

The Gimps bring their own brand of sketch comedy to the Tron Theatre after a successful Edinburgh Fringe. With the artistic director of the Soho Theatre directing this show, it promises to deliver the most flamboyant and creative knob-gags anyone will ever see.

3. Mark Nelson: Live and Unleashed

Oran Mor, 30th March

A complete sell-out in the last few CGIFs, this festival favorite is back after swiftly becoming a regular on the U.K circuit. Support Scottish comedy and go see Mark Nelson.

4. Tony Law: Go Mr. Tony, Go!

The Stand, 28th March

Nominated for ‘Best Breakthrough Act’ in the 2012 Chortle Awards and winner of the 2011 Amused Moose Laughter Award, Tony Law is a very funny man and a must see of the GICF.

5. Doug Stanhope

The Kings Theatre, 30th March.

Doug Stanhope returns to Glasgow after storming the Comedy Festival last year. Seen recently on Charlie Brooker’s Screewipe, this no-holds-barred comic is definitely no stranger to controversy. Those easily offended may want to stay away!

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Review: Much Ado About Nothing – “Men were deceivers ever.”

‘Men were deceivers ever’, sings the ethereal voice of Claire Wallis sucking the audience into the world of STAG’s stunning production of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. This modern take on Shakespeare’s adored classic, directed by student Joshua Payne, takes the story of love, lies and deceit to new levels.

We are thrust into a land of criminals and con-men led by the infamous Donna Pedro and Leonato. Don Pedro’s change of sex is an interesting alteration by Payne, but works well in giving the language of the play a greater degree of sexual tension. The pair, together, equate to the mafia of the business world. With an aura of power and cunningness oozing from their presence, especially from actress Harriet Bolwell (Donna Pedro), they decide to take on more than just the money – It is cupid’s turn to be fleeced. Fraud and lies work for business, and the pair use the same devices to concoct a loving match between the striking Benedick and Beatrice. This match, based on a web of lies, surprisingly works out for the better. The love of fellow characters Claudio and Hero, however, a love based on truth and real feelings ends disastrously with devastating humiliation for bride Hero, and agony for both. Hero, played by Isabel Otter-Barry Ross, is the perfect sobbing bride, accused of an adulterous act she did not commit. Deceit has once again played its part, this time under the control of the sexual deviant Josephine Pedro, Donna Pedro’s villainous sister. It becomes clear that not only are lies used to the business world outside this gang culture, members are also untruthful to each other. Every relationship is poisoned by deceit.


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Review: Pass The Spoon @ Tramway

Pass The Spoon has been described as an opera about food created by artist David Shrigley, composer David Fennessy and director Nicholas Bone of Magnetic North Theatre. This may seem a little intriguing already but take a minute to digest that first name and you can predict it’s going to get a whole lot stranger.

Trying to put the ‘opera’ into some kind of understandable context is challenging so considering Shrigley’s ubiquitous art work should make it slightly clearer. But then you think of the odd little drawings and again you find difficulty in pinning down precisely the bizarre humour and charm that makes his work appeal so widely. Shrigley shows an ability to find the farcical in the mundane and has an inexplicable sense of humour shot through with morbidity. Therefore any concise explanation of Pass the Spoon would always elude me. I can only sum up my pre-performance thoughts as ‘weird shit was going to happen’.

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Theatre Review: Vanishing Point – Saturday Night (Tramway Theatre)

Vanishing Point returned to the Tramway with a show reminiscent of ‘Interiors’, their last production. Separated from the stage by a panel of glass, the audience survey the action as if they were looking into a block of flats. Privy to no character dialogue whatsoever, we only hear sounds such as the television set, a hoover and a guitar being strummed. In the two flats we are allowed to see, the muted actors perform in mime. Above the main point of action, an old woman sits in a small room for the entire performance watching a television in the dark. Beneath her a young couple give a display of their life.

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Pause With A Smile – Theatre Review – The Arches/Traverse

Yasmin Ali


Tickets for Platform 18 shows (14-17th April) on sale now from Traverse Box Office: 0131 228 1404 // www.traverse.co.uk

Pause With A Smile

Photo courtesy of The Arches.

‘Pause With A Smile’ is an hour’s interactive dialogue of incidental anecdotes brought to you by the excellent double-act Gary McNair and Kieran Hurley. Written and directed by Platform 18 winner Gareth Nicholls, the show is a quality production which is bursting with ideas.

Pause… features an action-packed script densely populated by stories detailing a series of incredible coincidences. These are reeled off in quickfire succession to a bemused audience, who are left to ponder on their likelihood and plausibility. Each story begins with ‘Here’s one for you…’, used as a key pointer for anticipation.

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Money…The Game Show – Theatre Review – The Arches/Traverse

Jonny Casey


Tickets for Platform 18 shows (14-17th April) on sale now from Traverse Box Office: 0131 228 1404 // www.traverse.co.uk

Money… The Game Show

Platform 18 award-winning playwright Clare Duffy brings us the brilliant and exhilarating interactive play ‘Money – The Game Show’. Duffy invites the audience to play and gamble with six thousand pound coins in a game show style play which challenges and questions our modern attitudes to risk management, the banking system and personal greed.

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