Posts Tagged ‘Edinburgh Lyceum Theatre’


© Richard Campbell

Marilyn‘ at Edinburgh’s Lyceum Theatre, is the story of being famous and the things women had to do get there in 1960’s Hollywood.

Or, as Marilyn succinctly quips, “I guess girls like us spend a lot of time on our knees – that’s Hollywood.”

By focussing closely on the story of the world’s most famous ‘sweater girl’ and Simone Signoret, the sophisticated, intellectual actress of the day, Sue Glover‘s brilliant script provides an illuminating insight into women “working for The Studio – we all work for The Studio ultimately.”

During the summer of 1960, Marilyn Monroe and Simone Signoret live in adjacent apartments of the Beverley Hills Hotel. Thrown together while Monroe films the movie ‘Let’s Make Love‘ with Signoret’s husband, Yves Montand, the pair form an uneasy friendship, plagued by jealousy and insecurity.  Under the watchful eye of Patti, hairdresser to the stars, it becomes a relationship that tests their deepest beliefs and threaten to destroy them both.

Marilyn, as played stunningly by Frances Thorburn – even the singing is worth the ticket price alone, never mind the rest of the scintillating, vivacious, driven, cookie and disturbed performance – is portrayed as being the most ambitious of the two.  When talking about actresses of the past, she calls them “Dead, or their careers have gone dead – which is the same thing.”

Marilyn’s character twists and turns with insomnia – “Sleep – how do you do that again?” – and jealousy of her more sophisticated new friend Simone who is adored by “le tout Paris”.  She offers two renditions of “My Heart Belongs To Daddy” emphasising her ultimate devotion to the man, the studio, the cash and her ambition over friendship and loyalty.

She oscillates between wanting to Be Marilyn, the uber-pouty, pin-up girl: “I just can’t go through that door until I feel like … look like … Marilyn” and being taken seriously as a proper actress “Big ass, big tits, big deal”.

Simone, Marilyn and Yves

Even Simone, the stylish intellectual, puts all her energies into her man while her career takes a dip, waiting for the right script “You must never do stupid movies.”

Finally, when she doesn’t get the adoration she craves from her friend who ultimately wins the Oscar, Marilyn steals the one prize Simone adores above all, her husband.  But Simone’s character, as played brilliantly by the French actor, Dominique Hollier, is also hoist by her career.  At a critical point between staying to prevent Marilyn getting with her husband and flying off to a great part, she chooses to take the long-distance role.

Her anguish is palpable: “I can’t go out. If I open my mouth, it howls” and her anger towards Marilyn vitriolic: “You are milk, froth, cotton candy.”

Both characters are overseen, soothed, jollied and cajoled by the incredible down-to-earth Patti, played utterly convincingly by Pauline Knowles who ultimately lies, cheats and keeps her head down because she too works for The Studio.

The set is pure 30s glamour and glitz – silver art nouveau ornaments with white luxury cushions – and a blown up photo of dead Marilyn on the side wall.

The production (a co-production with Citizens Theatre, Glasgow) zips along with passionate intensity until Marilyn puts an end to her tortured life and is escorted into the sunset by – and here’s the curious thing – the black actor / stage manager who has been dotting in and out, moving furniture and props, clasping her shoes unto his breast tenderly and exchanging knowing smiles with her.

All along the piece, it seems like his role will develop.  He is dressed as a servant; it seems like he’s playing a role of silent black observer; as caught up in the chains of working for The Man as Marilyn, yet always operating in the shadows as her secret black companion, perhaps lover and comforter.  But the role just fizzles out.  Worse, he is conspicuous by his absence at curtain call.

When turning to the programme, he is name-checked as Barry Ford in the ‘Cast List’ but no biography or production credits are available on either the Cast, Creative Team or Staff Lists at The Lyceum or The Citizens Theatre websites or programmes.

In this post-Stephen Lawrence era, one would hope that black actors are not still being stereotyped into servant / gangster roles or worse, failing to get credit for their contributions in theatre.

Are we to believe that black people are as invisible in Scottish theatre as they were 100 years ago, or more (bar the exceptionally rare roles written by the bard and a few others)?  Are we to advise young black Scottish hopefuls that there are no jobs or roles in Scottish theatre?

On enquiry, the Lyceum Theatre states:

“Barry Ford is an Assistant Stage Manager at the Citizens Theatre. When the show was rehearsing at the Citizens the director Philip Howard decided they needed an ASM to be onstage to move the props around. Barry was available as an ASM to fulfill this for the production, and then the transfer to the Lyceum. He was in costume, in keeping with the play, which isn’t unusual as we have done this in numerous productions. The ASM aren’t included in curtain calls as they are not cast.”

Developing News

The Citizens Theatre states:

“Further to the statement made by our co-producing partners, the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, we would like to re-iterate that both companies are equal opportunities employers. Barry Forde has been an Assistant Stage Manager (ASM) at the Citizens Theatre for the last 3 years, having been recruited to the theatre through our trainee scheme. The ASM role is a technical position as part of the backstage production team. In addition to technical duties, ASM’s are frequently requested to move props on stage and take part in group scenes.  This often involves them being in costume to fit in with the action. The Director of the show requested that the ASM be involved in key scenes of Marilyn where props were required to be moved.  Whoever was the ASM on the show would have fulfilled that role. In this case it was Barry Forde and he continued in that role when the show transferred to Edinburgh.”

I would also like to explain that it is standard practice for ASM’s to not take curtain calls with the Cast as they are part of the technical team.  At the Citizens Theatre, Barry was credited as Assistant Stage Manager in our Citizens Company full staff list.  As it was not appropriate for him to be part of the Lyceum’s staff list, it was requested that he get an acknowledgement elsewhere within the production credits of the programme. That is why his name appears as it does in the Lyceum programme.  If this confused or misled we can only apologise and reiterate again that Barry is very much part of the technical team on the show.”

Yet he was clearly labelled as Cast in the programme.

What do you think is the issue?  Is it harder to get a job in theatre as a black person in Scotland?

Spencer the Painter - now a bus driver

Rodd Christensen, a Scottish-based black actor, won a BAFTA for Balamory but now drives a bus. Check here and here

© Fin Wycherley

You can also find this review on STV Edinburgh here

Show: Marilyn, Venue: Lyceum Theatre Run: 15th March – 2nd April 2011

Times: Evenings: 7.45pm Tuesdays-Saturdays Ends approx 9.40pm Matinees: 2.30pm Wednesdays and Saturdays (16, 19, 23, 26 Mar and 2 Apr) Ends approx 4.25pm

Related Articles

Joyce McMillan here

Onstage Scotland here

Lothian Life here

The List here

The Stage here

The Telegraph here

The Guardian here

The Independent here


Listen here

Will Featherstone & Kirsty Mackay

Young actors Will Featherstone and Kirsty Mackay talk about playing everyone’s favourite star-crossed lovers in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet at the Royal Lyceum Theatre and the joys of being in the Lyceum Youth Theatre.

We hear a couple of lovely quotes from the forthcoming production and a bit of chat about love and what it’s all about.  Romeo and Juliet runs from 17th Sept – 16th October 2010.

The same cast for Romeo and Juliet will be playing the following show at the Lyceum: The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde.

Maria Conte @ James Christie

The lovely Maria Conte, of the Edinburgh Hispanic Festival came to talk about the upcoming Hispanic Festival Fiesta on 17th September 2010 at the Jazz Bar.

Guests include groovy DJs Rubble & Dave Howell, Latin DJs Freddy Ramirez & Nano, Carlos Arredondo, Edinburgh Flamenco Syndicate, Los Mac Kafre & Orkesta Simbolika.

Maria, a regular on Leith Tonight, also enthused about an exciting international performance of internationally renowned singer Rafael de Utrera and his latest production, Flamenco Vivo!

The inspiration for Flamenco Vivo is Rafael’s love for his wife, dancer Carmen Lozano and for the link that exists between their places of birth – Utrera and Moron de la Frontera.  All information on both gigs can be found here.

Jack Nissan © James Christie

Musician Jack Nissan of the Tinderbox Project came in to talk about upcoming auditions a new contemporary orchestra.

It’s for 13-21 yr olds, with a grade 6 or above (self-taught is fine too) on a classical instrument, drums, bass guitar and saxophone.  It’s a new route into music for talented young musicians where instead of playing the classics, they do Jimi Hendrix, Bjork collaborate with local bands, compose their own music,  and work on any arrangements the players wish.  Remaining auditions are on 19th and 26th Sept.

Jack is also organising a fun Kazoo march fundraiser to raise funds for the new orchestra.  On Wed 22nd Sept, 6pm at the Pear Tree, armed with collection buckets, they will kazoo (those daft wee instruments) through central Edinburgh. All info can be found here.

Saliha Haouachi ©JamesChristie

Pam Anderson © James Christie

Edinburgh based Flamenco troupe Alba Flamenca bring their special brand of Andalusian energy to the studio and talked about their forthcoming season of classes and performances at their lovely studio, El Bar in Howden Street, Edinburgh.

©Fin Wycherley


@Nick Gardner Leith & North Edinburgh

Yesterday’s AGM of Leith Community Mediaworks Limited, the company licensed by Ofcom to broadcast, was an enormous success.

Despite taking place on the hottest day of the year and right before the England v Germany kick-off, there was a spectacular turnout with 75% of members.

The only proposal tabled was the election of the group of 10 candidates to the board.  An emphatic majority secured the future of Leith FM and the station is now governed by some of the most outstanding people of the local community.

The new board comprises:

  • Sarah Price

    Sarah Price, MD of local visual arts organisation, Edinburgh Printmakers, has experience in financial management, fundraising, marketing and communications planning, sales, artistic policy development, service delivery and all programmes of education and engagement working with local schools and community groups.

  • Susan Smith, Editor of Third Force News, has extensive knowledge of charity management, law, governance and funding issues through editing TFN (published by SCVO). Susan also set up Scottish Charity Awards which recognises excellence across Scotland’s voluntary sector.
  • Kate Longmate

    Kate Longmate, Development Manager at the Edinburgh’s Lyceum Theatre, is a highly experienced fundraiser. Kate has a thorough knowledge of the legal, accounting and reporting and annual returns requirements of Charities, Companies Limited by Guarantee, Social Enterprises and of best practice with regard to accounting for fundraising. She has extensive knowledge of charity management, law, governance and funding issues.

  • Fin

    Fin Wycherley, Leith FM broadcaster and blogger, has an honours degree in law and qualifications in journalism and marketing.  Fin recently completed the East of Scotland Common Purpose Senior Leaders Leadership course and is looking forward to ensuring Leith FM gets the governance and management the community deserves.

  • John Murray & Trevor Dann

    John Murray, of Leith FM and Kingdom FM, co-founded Kingdom FM and founded registered charity Kingdom Kids affiliated to Kingdom FM radio.  He has assisted and presented with volunteer radio groups such as Festival FM, Fresh Air, All Edinburgh Radio, Radio Cracker and Leith Festival Radio. John was awarded John Whitney Award 2010 by Radio Academy chairman Trevor Dann for outstanding radio contribution.

  • Colin Somerville, has 31 years radio experience in ILR and the BBC. Colin has lectured HNC Radio Students, HND Journalism Students, and media from NQ level up.  ““Local” radio does not exist any more, except in the community sector. Scottish radio is owned by Bauer Media, a German company specialising in the magazine sector.  It is depersonalised by heavy networking of programmes and has no local character. I have a passion for what I call the last human medium. The relationship between radio broadcaster and audience is unique and to be cherished.”
  • Hamish Alison

    Hamish Alison, MD of Freakworks, has been a board member of Leith Community Mediaworks since it’s inception, and prior to that worked on both of the working groups, set up to research and create the intended body. Freakworks has become one of Scotland’s highest profile facility houses and is currently the only facility house based in the Edinburgh area offering both high end Production and Post-Production services.

  • Bob Giulianotti, of Firstport, supports social enterprises in Scotland through business and commercial advice, funding and growth support.  Based in Edinburgh covering the whole of Scotland.  He also does training workshops in Legal Structures, Cash Flow Forecasting and Planning for Social Enterprises.
  • Jai Adami, HR Consultant, has a thorough working knowledge of operational and strategic requirements within public and private sector industries at a senior human resource management level, including local government for 7 years and Scottish housing associations for 10 years. Jai has been an Aftercare Business Advisor for 8 years and Investors in People Scotland for whom I was a quality standards panel member for 4 years.
  • Ally Tibbitt

    Alastair Tibbitt, of Greener Leith, currently works as development manager for Greener Leith, an organistion dedicated to promoting community involvement, sustainable development and better public spaces. They’ve won awards for their website and our use of social media at a Scottish and UK level. Alastair has an MSc in Energy and Environmental Management, and is a member of the Institute of Fundraising.

    We wish them all the best for the future, as well as many thanks for the previous board members.

    @finwycherley