Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Get on the Guid Foot

I'll admit that I was confused by the press release for The Guid Sisters. Vicky Featherstone, artistic director of the National Theatre of Scotland, called it "not only a Scots classic but it is also a timely portrayal of women and economic survival." Then director Serge Denoncourt added "Forty years ago, in Quebec, everybody was talking about a new play: Les Belles-soeurs by Michel Tremblay." I had to go straight to Wikipedia and find out how a Scots classic could begin life as a French Canadian revolutionary drama.

Tremblay's original shook the conservative theatre of 1960s Canada, and was written in local dialect. His plays, which often feature that rare phenomenon, good parts for women, reflect his belief in the matriarchal nature of Quebecois society and he has been an outspoken, if awkward, advocate for Quebec's independence from English speaking Canada.

Given the tradition of Scottish plays that emphasise the power of women (The Steamie, She Town), and the political arguments about Scottish national identity, the translation into Scots, by Bill Findlay and Martin Bowman, was probably inevitable. 

The NTS/Lyceum co-production has managed not only to find a cast of fifteen women, including Karen Dunbar, but has enlisted the author's director of choice in Serge Denoncourt. Denoncourt is perhaps most famous for his production with Cirque du Soleil, but says that "Les Belles-soeurs became a fetish play, a lucky charm for me," following his first stab, at about ten years old, when he learnt it by heart and performed it in the street for his mates.

Denoncourt was mostly recently in Scotland working on Ana for Stella Quines - visually ravishing, this time-travelling epic attempted to compare the status of women in different eras: the presence of Karen Dunbar, best known for Chewin' The Fat, suggests that this production might be bigger on the laughs. And although the plot revolves around a grand prize of Green Shield Stamps (something else that probably needs to be checked on Wikipedia), the meat of The Guid Sisters is in the banter and conflicts between the large group of women.

Despite its origins in Quebec, it does fall nicely into the tradition of The Steamie - it's set in Glasgow, it's working class, it's about financial hardship, it has plenty of humour and community.

21 September – 13 October 2012

Kings Theatre, Glasgow                                                                 
Tuesday 23 – Sat 27 October

No comments :

Post a Comment