Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Sue Glover - Bondagers

Before Sue Glover wrote Bondagers, books on the subject of female farm
workers in the nineteenth century seemed to be pretty thin on the
ground. Once Glover's play charting six women's travails through the
seasons became a hit in Ian Brown's original production for the
Traverse Theatre in 1991, however, everything changed. The play's
emotional landscape and lyrical largesse tapped into something that
audiences lapped up, and Brown's production was revived for bigger
theatres and toured to Canada. Suddenly there seemed to be a welter of
literature on the subject, while the play itself was recently named as
one of the twelve key Scottish plays written between 1970 and 2010.

Twenty-three years on since its premiere, and more than a decade since
it was last produced on home soil, Bondagers comes home to roost in Lu
Kemp's new production at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh. Even
with such an extended absence, Glover remains close to the play.

“It's difficult to get away from it,” she says on a lunchtime sojourn
into Edinburgh from her Fife home. “It's always there. There have been
productions abroad, you get emails from students doing design, or
school-teachers doing it with their kids, so it becomes part of you.
All your plays are part of you.”

The roots of Bondagers date back to Glover being told about the history
of women who were exploited as cheap labour while trying to keep body,
soul and family together. Having never heard of them, she looked into
it, and originally planned to write the play as a two-hander before it
blossomed into something bigger.

“Ian Brown said to me that I'd given him a very difficult play to
direct,” Glover remembers. “Apparently it's written in a lot of
different styles, but they all seem to fit together to me, and I don't
want to analyse or think about that too much, but I think it was just
the landscape that started it, and it's very dangerous to begin with a
landscape. It's usually a character or something of the story or an
incident, but there wasn't anything except that I kept seeing these
misty fields. A forty or fifty acre field sounds enormous, and it was
enormous then, although it's nothing now. I was on a car and a train in
Poland recently, going past these vast swathes of fields that could
have been somewhere in America, but these fields were new at that time.

“I believe they tried growing trees around the edges of the fields, and
then realised that it wasn't a good idea, partly because it would keep
the sun off the fields. I loved all that stuff. I always have. Even as
a kid I'd see places being concreted over, and wonder how we'd be able
to grow our food.”

Before Bondagers, there seemed to be few contemporary plays being
written in Scotland with rural settings. Whether it was coincidence or
there was something in the air, Glover's play seemed to open the door
on other works that moved beyond the inner-city. Alastair Cording's
stage adaptation of Lewis Grassic Gibbons' novel, Sunset Song, appeared
the same year as Bondagers, while original works such as David
Harrower's still startling Knives In Hens was an even bigger breath of
fresh air. At one point, it seemed like the majority of new plays being
produced by the Traverse were rural-based, including Glover's own play,
Shetland Saga. This was something brought home by the new writing
theatre's once annual Highland tour.

“I got the impression that if I'd been writing about housing estates or
factories or drugs, some theatres might have been much more interested
in my work,” Glover says. “All of my theatre plays are set on beaches
or islands or the countryside, and audiences have always been very
happy about that. Theatre admin departments weren't, certainly not in
the way they are now.”

One of Glover's bĂȘte noirs is classical plays having some kind of
concept imposed on them.

“They keep on trying to see the relevance of everything,” she says,
“but audiences will get the relevance of it. I don't want to see
Shakespeare done in blazers with people carrying tennis rackets.
Audiences aren't so dim that they can't see what a play is about.”

Kemp's revival of Bondagers for the Royal Lyceum heralds a mini
renaissance of Glover's work. A new production by Borderline Theatre
Company of The Straw Chair, first seen at the Traverse in 1988, is
scheduled for 2015. Like Bondagers, The Straw Chair looks to history
for inspiration, and looks at what happens when an Edinburgh minister
and his wife arrive on eighteenth century St Kilda.

“It's set in the past,” says Glover of the play she calls her favourite
work, “but really it's a play about marriage. It's really exciting,
because they're going to open it in Orkney.”

Glover's most recent full-length stage play was Marilyn, which imagined
a meeting between Marilyn Monroe and Simone Signoret in a hotel room,
and which was seen at the Citizens Theatre in 2011. Beyond that, Glover
currently has two short plays on the go. The first is based around a
couple living with lions, while the second is about an older couple
facing up to their own mortality.
As with Bondagers, however, Glover is unwilling to impose a theme on
her new works lest it get in the way of writing it.

“I found out what Bondagers is about while I was writing it,” she says.
“It's about losing or spoiling the land. Young people are slightly
horrified by the sexual politics in the play, because they're seeing it
through modern eyes, but the energy of these women was amazing.”

Bondagers, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, October 22-November 15.
www.lyceum.org.uk

ends

Sue Glover – A life in writing

Sue Glover was born in Edinburgh and lives in the East Neuk of Fife.

She has written for theatre television and radio.

The Seal Wife – Based on the legend of the selkies – seals who take
human form and live on the land – Glover reinvented the myth for a
fishing community in 1980 at the Little Lyceum in Edinburgh.

The Straw Chair – First presented at the Traverse Theatre in 1988, this
charts the travails of an Edinburgh minister and his wife when they
move to St Kilda. A hit at the time, The Straw Chair looks set to be
revived by Borderline Theatre Company in 2015.

Bondagers – Glover's best known play was first presented by the
Traverse in 1991, when it opened at Tramway in Glasgow. Ian Brown's
production was subsequently remounted three times, and toured to Canada.

Sacred Hearts – This tale of five prostitutes who occupy the local
church in protest at their working conditions was based on a real life
prostitutes strike in 1975, and was presented by Communicado Theatre
company in 1994.

Shetland Saga – Philip Howard directed Glover's tale of what happens to
a group of Bulgarian sailors who become stranded in Shetland at the
Traverse Theatre in 2000.

Marilyn – Howard again directed Glover's work in this reimagining of a
meeting between Marilyn Monroe and Simone Signoret, who find themselves
staying at the same hotel.

The Herald, October 21st 2014


ends





Damir Todorovic

Actor, choreographer, theatre-maker

Born June 20 1973; died  October 15 2014



Damir Todorovic, who has died aged 41 following a short struggle with
cancer, was an actor prepared to go places others feared to tread. This
may not have been immediately obvious in a stream of film and TV roles
in which the Serbian-born performer's shaved head and sharp East
European features saw him frequently play the bad guy. With the
Glasgow-based Vanishing Point theatre company in shows such as the
award-winning Interiors, The Beggars Opera and Wonderland, however, he
created parts that were quietly intense and which, by way of Vanishing
Point's devising methods, were born from a place deep within him.

It was made even clearer just how far Todorovic was prepared to go in
As It Is, a show created by himself in which he strapped himself to a
lie detector while being interrogated about his time as a young soldier
in the Serbian army during the Balkan conflicts in 1993.  Originally
commissioned by the Belluard Bollwerk International Festival in
Switzerland and later produced in an English language version by
Vanishing Point in Glasgow, As It Is made for uncomfortable but
fascinating viewing. It tapped into a period in Todorovic's life that
had clearly left its mark, and which shaped his artistic choices
thereafter. As with everything Todorovic did, As It Is was also a
search for truth, even as it confronted his own past.

“Thinking about this, after twenty years, it feels like a dream,”
Todovoric said of his time on the frontline in an interview with the
Herald in 2013, “so thinking about what's happened since in terms of my
identity, I was a little confused. What happened was my own experience,
but some of that could be products of my imagination. So I wanted to
see what has happened to my memory, and to the memory of the people,
and to examine all these experiences.”

Todorovic was born in the small town of Vrsac in Serbia, and trained at
the National Academy of Drama Arts in Novi Sad. At the beginning of his
career, he was a member of CZKD (Centre for Cultural Decontamination)
and BITEF Theatre, both centres of artistic and political resistance
with whom he performed in socially provocative interpretations of
Kafka, Genet, and Shakespeare. In 2002, Todorovic performed at the
Venice Biennale with Italian theatre company Motus, and  went on to
work extensively in Italy, France and the former Yugoslavia.

It was while living in Italy that Todorovic auditioned for Vanishing
Point in 2008. This was for a new co-production with the Napoli
Festival that became Interiors. Once spotted by Vanishing Point
artistic director Matthew Lenton over the extensive auditioning
process, Todorovic developed the character of the mysterious stranger
in Interiors who is inexplicably invited to the meal on the darkest
night of the year that is the show's centrepiece.

“Damir was brilliant at improvising,” Lenton remembers of the man who
became one of his best friends and greatest collaborators, “thinking
laterally and creatively, with his eyes wide open. He was fearless,
sometimes eccentric, always experimental, never afraid to try
something.”

One of the starting points for Interiors had been a quote from the
Venerable Bede, about how the life of man on earth was like the 'swift
flight of a single sparrow through the banqueting hall', one minute
there, gone the next. It was perhaps significant too that the insignia
of Todorovic's website was the shadow of a black crow.

“Damir could relate to this,” says Lenton of the Venerable Bede's
words. “In Interiors and in life, Damir had charisma, charm, warmth and
was always compelling to watch. He was open and eccentric and,
importantly, had the ability to provoke others. I loved this quality.
If he sensed someone was inauthentic, he could have an acid tongue (I
was on the receiving end of it at times), though it mostly remained in
his cheek.”

Interiors was to mark the beginning of a major ongoing collaboration
with Vanishing Point, that saw him become a vital member of Vanishing
Point's international ensemble. He appeared in the company's
comic-strip style cyber-punk reimagining of John Gay's The Beggar's
Opera, at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, and in Wonderland, an
unflinching examination of pornography by way of Alice in Wonderland
presented as part of 2012's Edinburgh International Festival. Todorovic
played the brutal film director, his face looming frighteningly on the
big screen at the back of the stage as he clutched his young victim.

Todorovic toured with Interiors all over the world with a company that
Lenton describes as a family, and in which he was one of three original
members of the cast who stayed throughout each international excursion.

Outside of Vanishing Point, Todorovic continued to develop his own
work, and followed As It Is with Holiday On Stage, a collaboration with
Martin Schick that explored western capitalism's relationship with art.
The show was seen in Switzerland, across Europe and at the Brighton
Festival.

It was As It Is, however, that remained Todorovic's most personal work.

“Damir saw and suffered things during those years [of the Balkan
conflicts] that many of us in western Europe can only imagine,” Lenton
says. “His subsequent pursuit of the artistic life was authentic, real
and shaped by his experiences as a young man. That is also probably why
he didn't suffer fools gladly. He could live the high life because he
had suffered the hard life.”

Todorovic was mid-way through developing Vanishing Point's most recent
show, Tomorrow, when his cancer was diagnosed, and as his treatment
became more severe, he was forced to pull out of the show. His unique
signature nevertheless remains embedded in the finished piece, a
hauntingly beautiful meditation on caring for the elderly.  Last
weekend Todorovic was scheduled to begin re-rehearsing Interiors for
the show's forthcoming dates in Poland, but reluctantly emailed Lenton
to say he was too ill to take part.

Lenton remained in contact with Todororoc via a close friend, and
emailed a message of love while he was undergoing a blood transfusion,
and asked if he wanted anything in return. Todorovic responded with a
YouTube link to a rare recording of the Beatles singing Norwegian Wood
(This Bird Has Flown). It was, says Lenton, “a very Damir gesture”,
that brought to mind the black crow of Todorovic's website and the
Venerable Bede's sparrow.

“Was Damir that bird, leaving the banqueting hall?” Lenton ponders. “I
think he was, and he knew it.”

Having spent so much time in Scotland, Todorovic thought of Glasgow as
his second home, and often talked of moving to the city where he had
forged so many friendships and creative partnerships with like-minded
people.

“We don't need machines to discover what is deeply within ourselves,”
Todorovic said in 2013 when talking about As It Is. “Contact with human
beings is much more important. That's how we find the truth.”

Todorovic is survived by his mother, Branislava Todorovic, and his
brother, Borko Todorovic.

The Herald, October 20th 2014


Ends

The Night Before The Trial and The Sneeze

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Three stars
While John Byrne's 1960s reinvention of Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters
plays to packed houses in the Tron's main house, Marcus Roche's
bite-size staging of two of the Russian master's miniatures is an all
too fitting curtain-raiser. Roche himself opens proceedings as Chekhov,
manning the decks with some particularly riotous Russian dance numbers
on the stereo before reading brief excerpts from his diaries.

These take place shortly after the original production of The Three
Sisters has been a massive flop, and Chekhov considers penning funnier
fare once more. This leads neatly into Roche's adaptation of the
unfinished The Night Before The Trial, in which a man awaits his fate
on the eve of being hauled before the court for attempted bigamy and
attempted murder. He is subsequently usurped by a young woman in need
of medical assistance he'd be happy to administer if only her pesky
husband wasn't also on the scene.

Played script in hand as if the words were still hot from Chekhov's
pen, the story's inconclusive ending segues into Michael Frayn's near
wordless The Sneeze like a Monty Python routine, with its author
stepping in, only to keel over so a reserve is forced to take his place.

Adapted from Chekhov's short story, Death of A Government Clerk, The
Sneeze sees a very sticky faux pas during a night at the opera upended
into a piece of silent movie slapstick as dexterous as Frayn's own
farces. Both of these fleeting moments of human behaviour are lifted
off the page by the production's casually-dressed quintet with an
irreverent brio that Chekhov needs much more of.

The Herald, October 21st 2014


ends


Sunday, 19 October 2014

Famous Five – Young Marble Giants, The Pop Group, Vic Godard & Subway Sect, The Sexual Objects, Pere Ubu

Young Marble Giants

The minimal palette of Cardiff trio Young Marble Giants' first and only album, Colossal Youth, remains as spooky and as fragile today as it was when it crept quietly into the post-punk landscape in 1980.


The Pop Group

Bristol's incendiary troupe of avant-punk insurrectionists return after this year's Celtic Connections show to perform their just repressed We Are Time album in full. Manic dub-funk sloganeering dangerous enough to bring down governments.


Vic Godard & Subway Sect

Subway Sect's support slot on the Edinburgh Playhouse date of The Clash's May 1977 White Riot tour at Edinburgh Playhouse inspired what would become The Sound of Young Scotland. Godard's re-recordings of his vintage northern soul period can be heard on 1979 Now.


The Sexual Objects

One of those attending the Edinburgh White Riot date was Davy Henderson, who formed Fire Engines, Win and The Nectarine No 9 before morphing into The SOBs, who have frequently backed Godard. Pop Group guitarist Gareth Sager collaborated with The Nectarine No 9, and when PG drummer Bruce Smith is on PiL duty, SOBs drummer Ian Holford has been known to step into the breach.


Pere Ubu

Crawling out of Cleveland, Ohio in 1975 and named after Alfred Jarry's proto-absurdist play, David Thomas' antsy sci-fi-fused garage-band have just released their latest album, Carnival of Souls. In 1981, YMG bassist Phil Moxham played on Thomas' solo record, The Sound of The Sand.


Young Marble Giants, Stereo, Glasgow, Oct 20th; The Pop Group, Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, Oct 20th; Vic Godard & Subway Sect with The Sexual Objects, Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, Nov 15th; Pere Ubu, Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, Nov 18th.



ends

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Young Marble Giants - Return of the Colossal Youth

Young Marble Giants never meant to reform. In truth, the Cardiff-sired
trio, who play their first ever Glasgow show on Monday night, had been
barely there in the first place. The band's sole long-playing release,
Colossal Youth, named, like their own, after images of ancient Greek
statues, seemed to have come fully formed from nowhere when it was
released by Rough Trade records in 1980.

The record's collection of fifteen austere vignettes sounded like
nothing else around, with brothers Stuart and Philip Moxham weaving
clipped, scratchy guitar and bass patterns around singer Alison
Statton's fragile, untutored voice as she sang Stuart Moxham's lyrical
fragments with a distance that made them sound like the darkest of
nursery rhymes. A drum machine and occasional organ added to the
eeriness, as did the shadowy image of the trio on the album's suitably
stark cover. Lo-fi doesn't come close.

“We didn't think it was going to get anywhere,” says Stuart Moxham
today. “We were on the dole and living in what was practically a squat,
and were desperate to get out of Cardiff. It seemed everyone else was
making this loud thrashy noise, so we decided to turn things around and
go the other way.”

'Let's hear It For Quiet Music' went the headline of one rapturous
review of Colossal Youth as Young Marble Giants became critical
darlings in a still underground musical landscape. A follow-up EP was
led by the song Final Day, later covered by Belle and Sebastian, and
the band toured Europe and America. By the time they released Testcard,
a second EP featuring six brief instrumental sketches, Young Marble
Giants had vanished  into the ether they'd seemingly sprung from. In
truth, the band's implosion was much more mundane.

“We'd planned for the future,” says Moxham, “but there was no plan for
success. Nobody tells you that being in a band is like being in a
marriage, but with more people. We were very young, were people who
couldn't really talk about things that mattered, and never saw it
coming. On top of this, Phil and Alison were splitting up as a couple,
there was sibling rivalry, and then Alison got really ill.”

The three went their separate ways, with Statton fronting the equally
short-lived nouveau pastoral jazz trio, Weekend, and Moxham releasing
material under the name The Gist, while his brother Phil played with
Everything But The Girl and Pere Ubu's David Thomas. Only when Moxham
was approached with a view to YMG reforming to record new material was
any kind of reunion mooted. By that time, Kurt Cobain had declared them
one of his two favourite bands (The Vaselines were the other), Courtney
Love had covered their song, Credit In The Straight World and Colossal
Youth was about to be re-released on CD.

At that point, Statton and the Moxhams hadn't been in the same room
together for twenty-seven years. Despite Moxham having long given up on
any chance of a reunion, the meeting in a Welsh pub went surprisingly
well.

“Phil is the big decider in this band.” says his big brother. “He's the
draconian filter, and he and Alison both said yes really easily, which
was a surprise. We decided to get our other brother, Andrew, who's a
brilliant musician, to join as well.”

The success of what was initially a one-off appearance at the
Powys-based Hay Festival of Literature and Arts led to more shows which
grown-up commitments would allow for. YMG's most recent appearance was
at a festival in Laugharne, the Carmarthenshire town where poet Dylan
Thomas lived and was inspired to write Under Milk Wood. While in
Moxham's mind, at least, the show wasn't a musical success - “those
songs have to be played not just note perfect, but with feeling, and if
there's a mistake, it screams out because there's so little there,” -
he nevertheless had a minor epiphany.

“So now we've got three brothers and an ex-girlfriend who's really an
honorary member of the family in the band,” he says, “and I only
realised when we were in Laugharne that this really is a family affair.
We've been going to Laugharne since we were toddlers, and I realised
that being in a band, you have to give it as much love and care as you
would with any family. That was a great revelation to me. I've always
had frustrations with this band, but now that I've realised that, I
think it might be easier.”

Seven years on from the reunion, there is still no sign of that
difficult second album.

“That's another frustration,” Moxham reflects. “We reformed to do this
particular thing, and said we weren't going to be an eighties comeback
band, but here we are. I would love to make a new record,  but making
music with people is like having sex. You have to make yourself
vulnerable. We're all desperate to do it, and there's so much going on
under the surface. We're all artistically and spiritually richer people
since we last wrote together thirty-four years ago, so I hope it will
happen.”

Young Marble Giants, Stereo, Glasgow, October 20.
www.stereocafebar.com

The Herald, October 17th 2014


ends

United We Stand

Oran Mor, Glasgow
Three stars
When a convicted prisoner talks about how the real conspiracies in the
country are not between trade unionists and workers, but with
politicians and corporations protecting the wealthy few, and how trade
unions may soon be illegal, you could be forgiven for thinking the
words are spoken by some contemporary dissident. As it is, they are the
parting shots from striking builders Des Warren and future comedy actor
Ricky Tomlinson, who, along with twenty-two other men in 1972 following
a volatile period of industrial unrest in the UK, were convicted on the
nineteenth century law of 'conspiracy to intimidate and affray.'

It is the plight of the men who became known as the Shrewsbury 24 that
is the subject of Neil Gore's loose-knit musical play for Townsend
Productions which is currently on a whistle-stop tour of the country
that takes in North Edinburgh Arts Centre tonight and Blantyre Miners
Welfare club on Sunday. With the help of just an overhead projector,
some factory-grey stools and a couple of makeshift signs, Gore and
onstage sparring partner William Fox transform a grim battle between
workers and construction industry fat-cats into a working-man's club
style cabaret, flat-caps, bad suits and all.

Arriving in Scotland to promote the campaign to quash the guilty
verdicts that still stand for the twenty-four, the mix of songs and
sketches that breaks up the narrative in  Louise Townsend's rough-cast
production is unashamedly partisan. Coming at a time too when basic
workers rights are once again under fire by big business, it is not
just a good night out, but a vital piece of not so ancient history.

The Herald, October 17th 2014


ends

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Linda Griffiths

Playwright, Actress.

Born October 7 1953; died September 21 2014



Linda Griffiths, who has died aged sixty following a battle with breast
cancer, was as wildly inspiring as she was wildly inspired, both as an
actress and a playwright in her native Canada and beyond. Nowhere was
this more evident in the latter than in Age of Arousal, Griffiths' 2007
play set in a nineteenth century secretarial college where five women
search for emancipation in very different ways.

In her programme notes for Muriel Romanes' 2011 production of the play
for the Stellar Quines theatre company at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in
Edinburgh, Griffiths herself described her work as being ”wildly
inspired” by George Gissing's novel, The Odd Women, which she
discovered in the dollar bin of a second-hand book-store.

“I turned it over, and it on the back it said ‘Five Victorian
Spinsters’,” Griffiths said in an interview with the Herald at the time
of the production, “and I thought, oh, that’s juicy. I’m so interested
in the idea of spinsters, and I wanted to feel I had the freedom to be
wildly  inspired by it, but not do any traditional adaptation. So it’s
a collaboration between me and George Gissing. Now, he’s dead, but if
anyone is still doing any of my plays in a hundred years time, I will
let them mess with them.

“But the tone of the play is completely different from Gissing’s. it’s
playful, dangerous and there’s that bomb inside it. In Gissing’s book
there’s the bomb, but there is no soufflĂ© around it and no sense of
humour. No-one goes to Berlin to smoke and wear trousers in the book as
they do in my play, which is meant to show the restriction of the age,
but in a way so we also see the freedom that was building. I’ve a
natural rebellious temperament, so I was never going to write a
conventional costume drama, and I was always more interested in what
was underneath than what was on top.”

In Age of Arousal, which in Romanes' production featured equally wild
costumes by students from Edinburgh College of Art, Griffiths used
something she called 'thoughtspeak'. This found each character
expressing their inner yearnings in a torrent of words that expressed
their internal emotions. When it happened to all the characters at
once, it resembled little symphonies of words. This was but one of the
flamboyant theatrical devices used by Griffiths to play with form in a
way that left her too weird for the mainstream, but not odd enough to
be avant-garde.

Regarded as one of the most vital voices to come out of contemporary
Canadian theatre, Griffiths was born in Montreal, where she studied at
St Thomas' High School, graduated from Dawson College, earned a
teaching certificate from McGill University, and spent a year at the
National Theatre School before being asked to leave.

Griffiths moved to Saskatoon, where she was a founding member of the
politically charged 25th Street Theatre and one of the creators of some
of the company's most seminal works, including If You’re So Good, Why
Are You in Saskatoon? in 1975, and 1978’s Paper Wheat, a history of
Saskatchewan’s co-operative movement.

At the Theatre Passe Muraille, Griffiths made her name with Maggie and
Pierre, a solo play about the Canadian prime minister, his wife and a
reporter, which she developed and wrote with director Paul Thompson and
performed in 1980. Maggie and Pierre won Griffiths awards both for
outstanding performance in a leading role and for outstanding new play.
She would win the latter three more times, for O.D. in Paradise in
1983, Jessica in 1986 and Alien Creature in 2000.

The production of Maggie and Pierre toured Canada, and played
off-Broadway in New York, where Griffiths was spotted by indie
film-maker John Sayles, who cast her as the lead in his 1983 film
Liana, about a married woman who has an affair with a female professor.
This won Griffiths the Alliance for Gay Artists Award in Los Angeles.
Had she stayed in America, greater stardom may have beckoned, but
Griffiths returned to Canada instead.

More than a dozen plays followed Maggie and Pierre, and in 1997
Griffiths founded her own Duchess Productions, which produced a tour of
Alien Creature, as well as developing and associate-producing The
Duchess aka Wallis Simpson (1997), Alien Creature: A Visitation from
Gwendolyn MacEwen (1999), Chronic (2003), and Age of Arousal (2007).

The latter was the second of Griffiths’ British Trilogy of plays,
inspired in part by her Rotherham-born father. The first, The Duchess
aka Wallis Simpson, looks at the American divorcee whose marriage to
King Edward caused him to abdicate. The third, The Last Dog of War
(2010), is a solo piece performed by Griffiths over the last few years
of her life, and which was inspired by a trip she took with her father
as he embarked on a reunion with his old RAF squadron.

“There’s always an element in my work of fantasy, or what I call
fabulism,” Griffiths said of the Trilogy, “so in Wallis Simpson, her
jewels are personified, and they become characters in the play. There
will be that uber level that the play goes to. There’ll be no
thoughtspeak, but there is this other thing that is reached for. So
while the three plays are different, I guess they’re about me wrestling
with my heritage, and bringing my own perspective to it.”

With Maria Campbell, Griffiths co-wrote The Book of Jessica and
published short stories, while in 1999, Sheer Nerve, a collection of
seven of her plays, was published. While Griffiths' final work, Games,
was presented in Calgary, last performance came in Heaven Above, Heaven
Below, a sequel to an earlier work, The Darling Family, which was seen
at Theatre Passe Muraille, where Maggie and Pierre premiered more than
three decades earlier.

Speaking about her Edinburgh production of Age of Arousal after being
introduced to the play in Toronto, Romanes recalls how “I was struck by
Linda’s fierce intelligence and energy, and her quite wonderful body of
work (I read all the plays). She also had very strong desires to write
in very different and innovative conventions, which I loved. She was a
director and actress herself and so understood all aspects of theatre, 
and her input was invaluable and she inspired us all to take the piece
as far as she imagined.”

The Herald, October 15th 2014


ends