Theatre Venue of the Month: Tron
More than a theatre
When Andy Arnold moved from The Arches to The Tron, he was arriving at a very different theatre to the one he left. While The Arches has a reputation for new work, and an atmosphere that converts every show into a site responsive extravaganza, The Tron has a classic theatrical arch and has drifted between the populist and the experimental.
Arnold has not so much redirected the Tron as find a surer balance between the populist and experimental: the return of DC Jackson's popular dysfunctional family in The Chucky Brae this year has been countered by an increased use of the smaller Changing House for a series of challenging plays, while his Mayfesto was a brave attempt to revive an old Glasgow festival with a political edge.
Equally, The Tron has been open to outside influence: the competition in association with the NTS, Open Stage, may not have found any new voices, but it has led to the development of three new plays from established authors – including CARS award winner Rob Drummond – and winner Sea and Land and Sky from Abigail Doherty, which is premiered this month.
Directed by Arnold himself, SLS looks back to WWI for a story of love, loss and dark humour. Although Arnold did not select the winner himself, the play has the classic Arnold combination. Fascinated by sparse, terse scripts – he is a master director of Beckett – it has a strong cast, an emotive background and the potential for serious dialogue and revelatory climaxes, plus the guy who played Winston in Still Game, Paul Riley.
Dirty Paradise, a monologue based on a story by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, is a fine example of how Arnold has opened up the building to other groups: it is part of The Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival, and directed by Alison Peebles. Peebles, fresh from David Leddy's Sub Rosa and currently working on Panic Patterns for Glasgay! has a good claim to be the hardest working women in Scottish performance: this one hander, that deals in magic realism and hallucination, is both written and performed by Leann O'Kasi, who superbly directed Top Dog/Under Dog at the Citizens last year.
The smaller spaces at the Tron are equally open to exciting events: the Victoria Bar regularly hosts The Supper Club Cabaret, alongside Club Sublime – led by Blind Girl and the Crips, this monthly special is curated by the ever imaginative Sounds of Progress – with Lost in Digression joining them from October. Dedicated to anti-heroes, riot grrls, nancy boys and anyone who has never quite managed to find their way back, Lost is a salon for the post-burlesque cabaret.
As the latest posters advertising the season suggest, the Tron is attempting to be far more than just a theatre: the various rehearsed readings, the arrival of Traverse hit Midsummer and the visits from community poetry slammers Word Factory all combine to generate an atmosphere of constant activity and creativity. It may not be The Arches in audience or intention, or atmosphere and continuity, but Arnold's Tron is finding a logical direction for a traditional theatre space to break the mould.
Dirty Paradise: 1 - 9 Oct 2010, 7.45pm. £8.50
Sea and Land and Sky: 7 - 23 Oct 2010, 7.30pm. £10.50
Midsummer: 26 Oct - 6 November 2010, 7.30pm. £10.50
Poem in October: 22- 30 Oct, 2010, 7.45pm. £8.50
The Supper Club Cabaret: 1 -2 Oct, 8.30pm. £10
Lost In Digression: 23 Oct 2010, 8.30pm, £4http://www.tron.co.uk/