The Edinburgh Graduate Theatre Group, EGTG, has announced that 2019 will be one of its most ambitious years yet; with four full-length productions, two one-acts and a programme of improvised theatre throughout the year.
As is traditional for the group, the season includes a mix of classical literature and exciting contemporary pieces. As well as two one-acts at the beginning of the year, EGTG will mount two full length productions before the Festival Fringe in the spring summer; Robert Askins’ Hand To God, and a translation of Jean Anouilh’s The Lark. EGTG’s Festival will be made up of Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor, and the revival of its SCDA one-act entries. The group will bring 2019 to a close with Joseph Heller’s own adaptation of Catch 22 in the autumn.
The year will begin at the Scottish Drama Association One Act Festival with two pieces from two new directors; Siobhan McGovern directing Drinking Companion by Alan Ayckbourn, and Jenny Tamplin directing The Actor’s Nightmare by Christopher Durang. The two plays require nine actors of both genders, with auditions to be held later this year.
Two seasoned directors David Grimes (August Osage County, The Ladykillers) and Claire Wood (Death and the Maiden, Skirt) kick off the EGTG proper in the spring. Grimes returns to his darker form, and presents the UK amateur premier of Hand To God by Robert Askins in April; a play the New Yorker called Sesame Street meets The Exorcist. A rambunctious, lightning-paced adult comedy that explores the startling fragility of faith, morality and familial ties. Mild-mannered Jason has sought solace in his mother’s Christian puppet ministry after the death of his father, where he discovers a blossoming talent for puppetry and thinks that things might just turn okay. But the youth group has a monster in its midst: Jason’s puppet Tyrone. As Tyrone’s foul-mouthed, irreverent, and devilishly funny influence over Jason steadily grows, no one’s secrets are safe and Tyrone won’t be satisfied until he’s dragged everyone to hell and back. Grimes will host a public script reading in late October, with auditions taking place after November’s production of All About My Mother.
Late spring, early summer, and Wood presents The Lark, an epic retelling of the trial, condemnation and execution of Joan of Arc. Amidst the messy protracted skirmishes of the one of the world’s longest wars, a teenage peasant girl led an army of men into battle and carved a victory that defined France. She claims that God asked her to save the country. She is accused of witchcraft – the punishment for which is being burnt at the stake. Jean Anouilh’s classic play recreates Joan’s trial by the church and depicts a woman colliding with the male establishment with all the instinct, passion and panache of a revolutionary.
Also in the spring, EGTG will open auditions for experienced improvisors, as Dan Sutton oversees the return of The Improbables, the group’s historical improvisation troupe. The Improbables will meet regularly to rehearse over the spring and summer, ready for two presentations to run alongside EGTG’s Festival Fringe productions and an improvisation evening in the early autumn.
EGTG’s Fringe programme will look different from previous years, with the revival of its SCDA One Act Festival entries and performances from The Improbables, alongside a piece of Shakespeare directed by Angela Harkness-Robertson (A Number). After the success of 2018’s production of Much Ado About Nothing, which included a tour to Stratford as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Open Stages, Harkness-Robertson presents another of Shakespeare’s comedies, The Merry Wives of Windsor, with a distinctly Scottish slant. Inspired by Tony Roper’s Scots classic, The Steamie, the antics of the merry wives and their cohorts will take place in a public washroom. In this tale of marriage, jealousy, lies and laundry, Falstaff gets more than he bargained for when he attempts to swindle the wives of two wealthy gentlemen. The wily women are always one step ahead of the foolish knight, and hang him out to dry while proving to all doubters that wives may be merry and yet honest too.
Finishing EGTG’s jam packed 2019 season, is a fittingly ambitious project from director Hannah Bradley (The Ram in the Thicket, You Remind Me Of You), Catch 22 by Joseph Heller; twelve actors will be tasked with playing forty one characters in the stage adaptation of Heller’s satirical war epic. Increasingly aware of the folly of war, Captain John Yossarian, a nihilistic pillot and the last Assyrian alive, would like very much to escape the maelstrom of conflict, but finds that there is always a catch.
The Edinburgh Graduate Theatre Group is one of Edinburgh’s most respected amateur companies, and its 2019 season proves true to the group’s form to continually push the meaning of the term. With more productions than in previous years, there are plenty of opportunities for people to get involved both on stage and behind the scenes.
EGTG 2019 season: Drinking Companion by Alan Ayckbourn, The Actor’s Nightmare by Christopher Durang, Hand To God by Robert Askins, The Lark by Jean Anouilh, The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare, Catch 22 by Joseph Heller