Dear Glasgow theatre season focuses on Middle East and North Africa
New project from Oran Mor’s A Play, a Pie and a Pint strand
With the Syrian crisis showing no sign of abating, the human story behind the various conflicts and uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa has seldom been so urgent. It’s an issue that David MacLennan, artistic director of Oran Mor’s A Play, a Pie and a Pint strand, is keen to explore with his latest special project, Dear Glasgow.
Inspired by the reach and response of last year’s Reveal, in which the National Theatre of Scotland and Òran Mór presented five Latin American plays adapted by young Scottish playwrights, MacLennan has turned his attentions to the Middle East and North Africa, commissioning a series of letters from some of the Arab world’s writers.
Keen to deal with the here and now, the director explains he was eager to find writers not plays, so new work was to the fore. ‘We wanted to give writers the opportunity to write a letter to Glasgow about the Arab world, responding to the current situation is their countries,’ explains MacLennan. ‘It’s an extraordinarily difficult time in that part of the world: the bloody ghastliness in Syria, the relatively successful transition in Tunisia, the curious situation in Egypt where resolution seems to have taken place but at the same time hasn’t really – the letters really reflect that.’
Syrian novelists Laila Hourani and Samar Yazbek, Palestinian playwright Raja Shehadeh and Egyptian librarian Ismail Serageldin are just some of the writers taking part, in a stage project that will see different Scottish writers read the letters daily, including Liz Lochead, David Grieg, William McIlvanney and Alan Bisett.
‘I wasn’t expecting to get such a great variety,’ says the director. ‘Some are very directly political, accounting events; others go in a different direction, one, for example, is the very symbolic story of a garden’s tenacious caper bush, so each is very unique.’ MacLennan has also commissioned a filmmaker and composer to create a 50-minute video and soundscape to accompany the piece. ‘We may change the order and content every day, we’re still deciding but I think everyone will take something away from it.’
Òran Mór, Glasgow, Mon 23–Sat 28 Apr