Monday, 5 February 2018

The Dramaturgy Box: Richard Baron @ Firebrand

Firebrand in partnership with The Byre Theatre, St Andrews and Heart of Hawick
present the
Scottish Premiere of The Match Box by Frank McGuinness

The award-winning Scottish Borders theatre company will be touring Scotland in February 2018
with the Scottish premiere of Frank McGuinness’ compelling play, The Match Box

The production opens at The Byre Theatre, St Andrews with a preview on Thursday 1 February 2018 and finishes on Saturday 3 February prior to a short tour which includes Birnam Arts, Heart of Hawick, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, and the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow.

Richard Baron directs this new production of the monologue, written by the celebrated Irish Tony Award winning playwright, Frank McGuinness in 2012, which combines lyricism and humour in a passionate story of grief, revenge and the temptations of evil.

The play explores the ties that bind and the shockingly brutal events that bring Sal to a remote exile on Valentia Island off the coast of County Kerry. McGuinness has created an intriguing heroine, a woman to be pitied and feared in equal measure. Her intriguing story begs only one question of the audience; what would you do if pushed to the very edge?

Following the success of last year’s acclaimed production of Grounded, Firebrand have again joined forces with The Byre Theatre, St Andrews and Heart of Hawick to bring this production to Scottish audiences.

Director Richard Baron on The Match Box: “It is a complete encounter with grief and the will to forgive, with powerful resonances of recent Scottish news stories about gang-related shootings. With superb storytelling skill, McGuinness’s atmospheric revenge drama uses surprising humour, and influences ranging from Samuel Beckett to Greek tragedy, to dig fearlessly into the flesh and sinew of such an event, posing awkward questions about public, mass media, and private reactions to the concept of vengeance.”

What was the inspiration for this performance?

Firebrand is keen to find remarkable plays new to Scottish audiences that have strong female interest and characters, and Frank McGuinness' powerful monologue, The Match Box, has all these qualities. It is an exciting, moving and thought-provoking story of a mother's grief and revenge that we'd tried to programme for some time. 

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

We believe that the immediacy and emotional impact of good theatre is unrivalled for engaging hearts as well as minds. You can present the complexities of a situation without getting bogged down in the intellectual niceties allowing for that in-depth discussion instead to happen afterwards once deeper and instinctive connection to the material has been been established. 

How did you become interested in making performance?

As a student I was interested in writing theatre criticism but found the opportunity to direct plays in rehearsal and then mounting them on a stage in front of an audience a more rewarding way of engaging with a playwright's work.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show                                                                                   
The Match Box is set on a remote island in County Kerry but we wanted to use all the tools of theatre (sound, light, the actor, the spoken word) to inspire the audience's imagination and to tell Frank McGuinness' story with simple strokes but as eloquently and inventively as possible.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Yes. Firebrand has become known for presenting plays that hit you in the gut and make you think and The Match Box certainly does that.  Our mission is to make work which can be played in intimate spaces but has epic themes and ideas. We believe the visceral power of being in close proximity to the action can often lead to a more enthralling theatre experience. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?                                                                                           
A thought-provoking and memorably moving and engaging experience of a fascinating new play that will inspire another visit to the theatre.

After her acclaimed performance in Grounded, at The Byre Theatre, this new production features actor Janet Coulson as Sal and the creative team is comprised of award-winning director Richard Baron, designer Ken Harrison and composer Jon Beales, whose successes with Firebrand include the sell-out tour of Rona Munro’s Iron, which starred the CATS Award winning Blythe Duff; the revival of David Greig’s Outlying Islands and the Scottish premiere of Lucy Prebble’s The Effect.

Liam Sinclair, Artistic Director of The Byre Theatre: “We are uniquely placed, at The Byre, to be able to play such a substantial role in the creation of touring productions for theatre in Scotland and beyond. Our involvement with Fringe First award winning Stand By in the summer of 2017 set a precedent which we are delighted to follow up with Firebrand’s latest production, which may be small in scale, but is huge in its ambition and power. This second-ever UK production of The Match Box fits perfectly with Firebrand’s mission to make intimate, emotionally charged theatre with epic themes, and will further endorse The Times recent claim that “Firebrand, the company based in the Borders, has the knack for identifying new plays destined to become contemporary classics.”

Sophy Delavigne, Operations Manager at Heart of Hawick: “We are delighted to welcome back Firebrand to the Heart of Hawick Theatre. It’s wonderful to be able to host such an innovative theatre company and we look forward to what is sure to be another powerful production.”

The Byre Theatre, St Andrews, University of St Andrews, Abbey Street, St Andrews KY16 9LA
Thursday 1 February Preview 7.30pm, Friday 2 & Saturday 3 February 7.30pm
Matinee Saturday 3 2.30pm
Tickets: £14/£12
Box Office: 01334 475000

Birnam Arts, Station Road, Birnam, Dunkeld PH8 ODS
Wednesday 7February 7.30pm
Tickets £10/£8
Box Office: 01350 727674

Heart of Hawick, Tower Mill, Kirkstile, Hawick TD9 0AE
Friday 9 - Saturday 10 February 7.30pm Sun 11 Feb 2.30pm
Tickets: £14
Box Office 01450 360688

Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge Street, Edinburgh EH1 1ED
Tuesday 13 - Saturday 17 February 8.00pm
Tickets: £17, £14, £12.50, £9
Box Office: 0131 228 1404

Citizens Theatre, 119 Gorbals Street, Glasgow G5 9DS
Tuesday 20 - Friday 24 February 7.30pm
Tickets: £16.50 - £12.50
Box Office: 0141 429 0022

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