Glasgow’s Innovative Theatre Company
Rain Dog emerged in 1991 when a group of Scottish actors, disheartened by a lack of bravery and innovation in Scottish Theatre, took up the challenge to stop complaining and act upon their own initiative.
Rain Dog launched itself with Dale Wassermann’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at the Glasgow Arts Centre, on the back of the annual Mayfest festival. Although not officially part of the festival, the company won the prestigious Scotland on Sunday Paper Boat award for the formation of an innovative group. The company was run collectively by 5 core members each taking on varied responsibilitites in the organisation. Running and production costs were generated from the formation of a cafe within the Arts Centre.
Then came Conquest of the South Pole by Manfred Karge at the Artches Theatre Glasgow. It was this piece that ignited the company’s passion for taking an established text and improvising around it looking for new ways to heighten the playwrights original vision. Weaving into the work contemporary issues, music and language and presenting them in a new dynamic way that appealed to a younger audience. This young, mainly non-theatre going audience came and were immediately hooked on the style and energy.
The company were then keen to tackle a classical text and apply their unique style to it. Macbeth was chosen and once again although not officially part of Mayfest it gained a Paper Boat for its efforts. A large audience came to the Citizens Theatre to see a vivid and very much Scottish production of this classic piece.
They next produced Still Life an umbrella title for a re-working of the Slab Boys Trilogy by John Byrne. They reunited the original cast of Still Life, David Hayman, Andy Gray, Alexander Morton and Gerard Kelly and set then against a background of younger actors, flashing back to the earlier plays. The production was a huge success and achieved a sell out tour of Scotland.
The next play produced was Ecstasy by Mike Leigh. Again they took a little known text and improvised round the themes and situations involved. Seven new characters were added and scenes extended. Rehearsals were now taped and those tapes became the frame work of the finished piece. Once again this style worked. The production sold out and managed to reach a large audience by touring community venues. The play spoke in a language that for some was uncomfortable but ultimately human.
It was that production that convinced the company to take a “leap of faith” and produce an entirely new piece devised and written by the company. The idea was to produce a piece on prostitution, homelessness, poverty, violence and drug addiction. A large ensemble cast came together for a week rehearsal period and from this Wasted was born. This piece was to dominate Rain Dog’s work for 2 years.
The vision that emerged was of a community of the dispossed and the forgotten, ignored by “society” and forced underground, struggling to survive by any means possible.
It had a sell out run at the Arches Theatre where it provoked a profound and immediate response from audience and critics alike. The use of video imagery, live and pre-recorded and experientation with contemporary influences was attractive to the largely young non-theatre going audience.
Wasted was re-developed and performed again to sell out audiences at Glasgow’s Tron Theatre.
In 1996 the company produced The Lucky Suit, their first Rain Dog Film Production. As with Wasted, the script for the film was improvised by the actors involved. It was a critical success at The Drambuie Edinburgh Film Festival and is currently touring Europe at various film festivals.
Rain Dog is now about to produce The House of Bernarda Alba by Lorca at Tramway in September, 1997. This will be their first major theatre show since Wasted in 1995. Again they have assembled a huge well known and talented company to produce this epic play.
This will be the 10th theatre production of the award winning company formed and run by Robert Carlyle, Caroline Paterson and Stuart Davids.
What the critics say of…
“In the time that I have been theatre critic for The Herald I would have no hesitation in describing Rain Dog as the most urgent theatre voice to emerge in Scotland”.
– John Linklater, The Herald
“The theatre that Rain Dog produce is the most powerful and depressing I have seen for a while, strongly acted, tightly focused and deeply disturbing”. The Guardian.
“Rain Dog have consistently astonished with their committed investigation of new ways of delivering theatre in Scotland.”
– The Herald
“…violent, gutsy, noble … a smack in the mouth of a play.”
– Daily Mail
“This piece has a despairing intellectual dignity about it. The most striking aspect of the show is the superbly sustained ensemble work from the 12 actors under the skillful direction of Caroline Paterson.”
– Scotland on Sunday
“The quality of acting is uniformly superb”
– The Herald.
“A breathtakingly choreographed production by Caroline Paterson”.