Venue of the Month: Tron

Andy Arnold leads The Tron towards a lively and engaged future

Feature by Michael Cox | 30 Apr 2010

It’s been two years since Andy Arnold took artistic control of The Tron. Once the head of the multi-arts venue of The Arches, Arnold now find himself in charge of a company with one primary focus: theatre. “The Tron was in a healthy state when I arrived,” says Arnold. “There was a good atmosphere, but the challenge was to establish a much busier programme.”

Arnold quickly set rules, focusing the Tron’s seasons on either new work or contemporary classics, especially with plays that had yet to be seen in either Scotland or the UK. But as for an overall plan, Arnold says, “My main priority here has been to build an audience. We’re presenting this work for the west of Scotland. It's very important to us that the Tron is a theatre for Glasgow.”

And so far, Arnold’s plan seems to be working. There have been a string of hits, including his first production, The Drawer Boy, and the Tron’s successful experiment with edgy summertime theatre, Cooking with Elvis. The success of Elvis will be followed this summer with the equally quirky comedy Valahalla! On top of this, the Tron are in the process of running two large projects.

Open.Stage is an ambitious competition set on finding a new Scottish play. The programme is in its second stage, with an initial 300 entries now whittled down to three final choices. “To put on something that we’ve nurtured from scratch and to then have a full production of it is really exciting,” says Arnold. “We ended up with three exciting writers and three very exciting projects.” The public will be asked to vote on which of the three seems like the best idea. Voting begins in May with the winning entry receiving a full-fledged production.

Also hitting the Tron is Arnold’s brainchild, Mayfesto. “I always liked the idea of festivals. The excuse to just have an awful lot going on at the same time and an atmosphere where there’s more than one show on in each space and a lot of people milling about the building.” He picked the name because its sounded both like a festival and an agenda, and it’s a project he hopes will continue every year with a different theme each time. For this first year, the theme is on plays that are “human stories that are the result of conflict”, with plays in the main theatre focusing on world events and pieces performed in the smaller, more intimate Changing House highlighting stories about women.

However, ask Arnold what his proudest achievement is and he points to the bar. The Tron is not only an acclaimed theatre but is also a great social hub, a place where people meet and chat before and after productions. Building this aspect of the Tron is as important to Arnold as the quality of the productions, and when asked what he hopes to be most remembered for, he says with a laugh, “My one legacy at the Tron will probably be that I introduced hand-cut chips.”

Mayfesto runs throughout May: contact the venue for details, prices and special offers.