'Wicker Man' comes to town
Gary Fitzpatrick • Published 21 Mar 2012 09:30
WITH the dark comedy 'An Appointment with the Wicker Man' featuring 'Still Game' star Greg Hemphill the National Theatre of Scotland hopes to reach a new audience.
The play has been entertaining venues around Scotland and comes to Dunfermline's Alhambra Theatre today (Wednesday) for a four night run.
NTS chief executive and artistic director Vicky Featherstone told the Press, "It's been going amazing around the country and we're really excited about bringing it to Dunfermline.
"I really feel that theatre shouldn't be boring and elite and we really try to break the boundaries of that.
"One of the reasons we came up with the Wicker Man was I thought Greg Hemphill is such a star in Scotland and apart from the 'Still Game' play he's never been on stage - plus the fact he's written this himself.
"I really wanted to create something that was funny, entertaining and would give audiences a really good night out. The kind of night where you all go along have a drink beforehand, you have a laugh at the show and talk about it afterwards.
"It's a sort of panto for grown-ups who like comedy and dark humour. What we've tried to do also was make it so it doesn't matter if you know 'The Wicker Man' film, you can pick up the story of it as you watch. Our piece has got a story of its own."
Vicky has been in charge of the NTS since it was formed in 2006 and is nothing if not driven, committed and ambitious.
She said, "We've not sold out the whole tour yet so until we've done that I'm never happy and also until as many people as possible have seen it because I really believe it's a brilliant night in the theatre.
"I really want to encourage people to come and see it and have a laugh and I don't think they'll be disappointed. People who might not necessarily think theatre's for them. It's very funny, very silly and it's got a dark, spoofy horror heart to it."
It's clear that Vicky believes there is a long way to go yet to turn Scotland into a nation of theatre-goers.
"It's not just Scotland, it's all over the world. Theatre has to be relevant to people's lives for them to want to go. Often it's great theatre, don't get me wrong, but it feels a bit detached from the lives people lead.
"I just wanted to create something that people would feel afterwards that it was good value for money, it was money well spent, they had a real laugh, had seen Greg being brilliant on stage, a fantastic company of actors and it's great fun.
"I think people get really energised by that so I'm trying to persuade people who don't think theatre's for them that it is for them."
Looking back on the early years of the NTS, she said, "It's been an amazing six years with the kind of work we've been able to do and the audiences we've been able to get.
"We've learned so much from the audiences about what they want to come and see how they respond to it. We only do this for the audiences.
"Black Watch was one of our highlights with your great home-grown talent of Gregory Burke, from Dunfermline. The brilliant Greg. Working with him was amazing and he's written another play which we're hopefully going to do in the near future.
"We're hoping that the people of Dunfermline will come along to this new play and think 'Wicker Man' is their new highlight."
Times are tough financially but Vicky is confident the arts in Scotland can look to the future with confidence.
"We're publicly funded so we've had to take our knocks like everybody else but what's amazing about the situation with culture in Scotland is that the Government knows that for Scotland to be a really successful country it has to have a strong culture so we feel really valued and supported by them.
"Even though resources are tight we feel valued and that we have an important role in Scottish life."
* An Appointment with the Wicker Man is at the Alhambra from next Wednesday to Saturday (21st to 24th March). Contact the box office on 740384.
This article appeared in Dunfermline Press 21 Mar 12