Student Guide 2015: best theatre in Glasgow
Want to know where to get your fix of all things theatre in Glasgow? Our theatre editor offers an overview
The closure of The Arches earlier this year – described as an act of cultural vandalism – will certainly cause considerable change in the landscape of Glasgow’s student culture. Not only was it one of the city’s most popular nightclub venues, it offered opportunities for young performers to make their own work, and presented exciting grassroots theatre from across the world. However, with rumours that the artistic team are reconvening to pursue other avenues and a plethora of small and collective groups positioned to rescue at least some of the venue’s activities, Glasgow is unlikely to feel bereft for long.
In the meantime, both the CCA and the Tron are havens for the kind of work that won’t ever translate to the Hydro. The CCA’s open programming policy, which means that most events are planned by outside organisations, prevents it having the same cohesive brand identity as other venues but ensures that live art, emerging companies, music theatre and avant-garde experimentation is always on the menu – alongside the vegan treats in the Saramago bar.
Andy Arnold, artistic director of the Tron, explains his vision for the theatre: ‘It has always been my ambition for the Tron to be not just a place to see shows but also a creative meeting place and natural home for local artists and theatre makers.’ The rather nice bar helps, but Arnold’s main stage productions – either from the in-house company or touring shows – are a cunning mixture of contemporary classics and new work. Recently, the upstairs space has been welcoming artists who tend towards the more experimental, including graduates of the Contemporary Performance Practice course at the Royal Conservatoire.
Just south of the river, the Citizens Theatre is becoming a national powerhouse. Beginning the autumn season with Lanark, it is known for the bold direction of Dominic Hill. For theatre students, his style is like a brief history of theatrical strategies; for everyone else, he combines a sharp wit and an accessible attitude.
Further south, Tramway has been relatively quiet in the last few years, although its recent Dance International festival brought back audiences, and Tim Nunn’s programming is beginning to reflect the venue’s glorious history of supporting international and challenging theatre. The performance space itself is worth a visit – featuring a wall built for renowned director Peter Brook – as are the Hidden Gardens, although the café is less impressive.
The Theatre Royal and the King’s share the commercial duties: check them out for regular juke box musicals, West End shows on tour, Scottish Ballet and Opera, as well as visits from the National Theatre (Scottish and British) and even the Globe. The Theatre Royal has recently had a facelift, making it one of the most elegant places in Glasgow, with fancy cakes and coffee and a staircase that begs the appearance of Fred Astaire tapping his way to the foyer.