Sunday, 4 March 2012

Six Degrees Of Separation – Edinburgh Graduates Theatre Group

"I read somewhere that everybody on this planet is separated by only six other people.  Six degrees of separation.  Between us and everybody else on this planet." 
Ouisa Kittredge – Six Degrees Of Separation.

Back when I used to teach Religious Studies (it was in another country and, besides, the career is dead), there was a popular website based around this very concept. I think it ended up like everything else that played with Social Networking before Facebook - so irrelevant that I can't even be bothered to Google search it. However, there was a film about the idea, and it had the Fresh Prince of Bel Air in it. That was more successful.

Then there was a game, called Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. The idea was to link up everyone in the world to Kevin Bacon. Then Kevin Bacon started up a charity called As long as this keeps him away from making a sequel to Footloose, I approve.

Before the film, there was the play. It was written by John Guare. Now there is a production in Edinburgh. Edinburgh Graduates Theatre Group are doing it at Adam House in April. Their press release plays with the concept.

Step One. 
Ross Hope, director of  Six Degrees of Separation for EGTG, attended a workshop last year with Niamh Cusack (now a Friend Of The Grads).
Step Two. 
Niamh Cusack’s brother –in – law is Jeremy Irons.
Step Three. 
Jeremy Irons starred in the mini-series Elizabeth I with Hugh Dancy.
Step Four. 
Hugh Dancy is married to Claire Danes.
Step Five. 
Claire Danes starred in Romeo + Juliet with Leonardo DiCaprio.
Step Six. 
Leonardo DiCaprio was directed in the film Marvin’s Room by Jerry Saks, who directed the original Broadway production of .... Six Degrees Of Separation.

It has been a long time since I saw the film, but I do remember being surprised that Will Smith could act. Before then, I had him down as a light-weight rapper who would not swear. These days, he turns in solid performances in the worst sort of film (I, Robot, which has the world's most blatant sneaker product placement and that one about Happyness (sic), which is something else I can't be bothered to Google search). I was also convinced by the script: there was an authenticity in the dialogue that made the absurd premise of cool art dealers being suckered by a man pretending to be Sidney Poitier's son a viable foundation for a meditation on inter-connectivity.

It is one of those plays that I like: it is intelligent, compassionate and encourages discussion about Big Ideas. In Six Degrees, it is Trust, Relationships and Authenticity (with a side order of Race). It was smart enough to make me take Mr Big Willy Style seriously, even after he did Wild Wild West.

About EGTG
Never shy of a challenge, EGTG have in recent years staged adaptations of Shakespeare’sThe Tempest, set on a barge in Leith, as well as his Comedy Of Errors, Antony & Cleopatra and Hamlet. Additionally, they have tackled more contemporary material - Christopher Hampton’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses, the Scottish premieres of Michael Frayn’s adaptation of Chekhov’s Wild Honey and Owen McCafferty’s adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone, Patrick Marber’s Closer and Stoppard’s modern classic Arcadia. Their adaptation of Margaret Edson’s Wit was the SCDA full-length competition winner for 2009-10. In 2011, EGTG were selected as the public’s choice to take part in Sky Arts’ televised competition Stagestruck, reaching the final stages and building a relationship with acclaimed actress Niamh Cusack (see Steps 1 and 2 above).

EGTG’s production of Six Degrees Of Separation runs from Wed 4 April to Sat 7 April at Adam House, Chambers Street, Edinburgh. Doors are at 7.30pm. Tickets are available from The Hub.

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