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Supporters fighting to save Dundee’s King’s Theatre take inspiration from UK City of Culture Hull

October 11 2017

Dundee needs to follow UK City of Culture Hull’s example and restore one of its most historic theatres, it has been claimed. The former King’s Theatre in the Cowgate was recently put up for sale at auction but no buyer was willing to meet its £400,000 price tag. But The King’s Theatre Trust has said it is now “exploring options” for purchasing the venue with the eventual aim of restoring the 1,000-seat theatre it to its former glory. Trust member Anya Lawrence has said Dundee could replicate the success Hull has enjoyed after its council-owned theatre was fully refurbished as part of its UK City of Culture celebrations. Ms Lawrence  said: “I recently passed through Hull, the city that got ‘UK City of Culture’ when Dundee didn’t. “Their year of culture has been a big success. The Hull City Council-owned New Theatre was given a refurbishment and the opening production was a visit from The Royal Ballet. “It quickly sold out and a further 5,000 people saw the performance relayed. Dundee doesn’t even get a visit from Scottish Ballet. “Dundee will need a new project when the V&A opens. Surely we can do what Hull City Council did?” Trust convener Richard Meiklejohn said: “We would obviously like to see the building being restored and begin to operate as a theatre again. “However, the first step is to secure the building itself. To do this we are exploring all fundraising options.” Ms Lawrence has suggested the city council purchases the building but Mr Meiklejohn said it is unlikely the council has the money to do so. He said: “I think the council buying the building is something that is definitely worth exploring although we know the council will have limited budgets.” But he added: “If the theatre was to reopen it could play a massive part in the city’s bid to become the European Capital of Culture.” The red sandstone King’s Theatre was opened in 1909 and hosted famous names including Cliff Richard and the Shadows and Sir Harry Lauder as well as being used as a cinema. It stopped hosting live performances in 1961 but continued to operate as a cinema until 1981. Since then the building has been run as a bingo hall and then partly as a number of different nightclubs. It was discovered in the 1990s that enough of the original structure, including the ceiling, remained intact and the theatre could be restored.


Dundee Rep’s Death of a Salesman leads way in theatre awards

May 18 2017

Dundee Rep's production of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman is leading the field in this year's prestigious CATS awards. The production has been shortlisted in six different categories of the Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland (CATS) , more than any other play performed in Scotland over the past year. This includes a nomination for the country's top theatre award, best production. Billy Mack has been nominated as best male performance for his take on Willy Loman, while Death of a Salesman also picked up nods in the best ensemble, design and music and sound categories. Joe Douglas has also been nominated in the best director category for the play. The Rep also picked up a second nomination in the best male category, which Robert Jack nominated for his performance as Benedick is Much Ado About Nothing. Pitlochry Festival Theatre has also picked up a nomination in the best female category. Gemma McElhinney has been nominated for her three different roles in the trio of Alan Ayckbourn plays staged by the theatre last year. The 306: Dawn, produced by the National Theatre of Scotland and Perth Theatre, has been nominated for best music and sound. The awards are decided by Scotland's leading theatre critics. The winners will be announced on June 11. Joyce McMillan, co-convener of CATS, said: "This year has once again seen tremendous creativity across the board “We’re delighted that 19 different productions have made the shortlists, from theatres and companies all across Scotland; they represent a huge range of theatre, from the smallest scale to the largest, and from complex pieces of musical theatre to the most apparently simple solo shows. "The range of new work being produced is impressive. This year 84 new plays or devised works premiered in Scotland, and many of these shows stretch and challenge our CATS categories, working with other art forms from music and dance to visual installations, and challenging traditional relationships between theatre and audience. "The sense of creative energy is immense, and we hope that these shortlists help to reflect that exciting, fast-moving theatre scene.” Edinburgh's Royal Lyceum Theatre received 15 nominations for five different productions across eight categories.  


Young actors take The Blue Road to Dundee Rep world premiere

June 22 2017

A topical play about conflict and devastation will have its world premiere at Dundee Rep on Friday as part of a double-bill featuring young actors from the city. Developed and written by acclaimed playwright Laura Lomas in partnership with more than 100 young performers, The Blue Road will be staged on Friday and Saturday. The second play will be HOME, which has been devised by members of the Youth Theatre Group aged between 14 and 16. The Blue Road is a newly commissioned collaboration between Dundee Rep Theatre, Derby Theatre, Royal & Derngate in Northampton and the Theatre Royal Plymouth. The play was created following a series of workshops with Laura Lomas and young actors, aged between 17 and 19, from the four cities where they discussed their views and concerns about the world today. The result is a play which follows the journey of six youths who, after being forced to flee from their homes, find themselves stranded in a forest. It explores themes such as loss and living in the aftermath of a crisis and how young people make sense of what has happened. Directed by The Rep’s Lisa Williamson, The Blue Road will be performed by a cast of young people at Dundee Rep, followed by performances by the partner theatres in Derby, Northampton and Plymouth. Lisa said: “It has been such a privilege to be a part of this national co-commission. "For our youth theatre to have met and worked with the writer of the play, given their thoughts, opinions and ideas and received a brand new piece of writing in return is such a unique experience. “Laura Lomas has written a challenging piece of text both in content and style and Dundee Rep Youth Theatre have relished the opportunity to work on this play. "The themes of conflict, aftermath and beginning again feel so relevant to the world we live in now and we are excited to share our finished product.” HOME forms the first act of the double-bill and has been devised by 14-16-year-old performers from The Rep’s Youth Theatre, as a response to The Blue Road. During their research and development period, the actors took inspiration from The Blue Road, personal stories and global affairs to explore what "home" means to young people in 2017. They discussed views on dissatisfaction across the UK and fear of their voices not being heard by those who will be leading them into the future. Dundee Rep’s Head of Creative Learning Gemma Nicol added: “The June double-bill is a very exciting performance for both the audience and our young actors. It has opened much debate and conversation about how young people feel in the UK, the affect that political issues have on them and how they might respond to this through theatre." Dundee Rep Creative Learning (RCL) is Scotland’s largest theatre-based creative learning department and works with an average of 27,000 people of all ages and abilities each year. Tickets for The Blue Road and HOME double-bill are now on sale at Dundee Rep Box Office on 01382 223530, or via the website at www.dundeerep.co.uk.


Dundee FC midfielder arrested after nightclub fracas

May 15 2018

Dundee FC midfielder Paul McGowan was arrested following an alleged assault outside a city nightclub. The 30-year-old former Celtic player was arrested outside the Underground nightclub on South Tay Street around 2am on Monday. A Police Scotland spokesman said: "Police Scotland can confirm that a 30-year-old man was arrested in South Tay Street, Dundee, shortly after 2am on Monday morning in connection with an alleged assault. "He was charged and released on an undertaking to appear at Dundee Sheriff Court at a later date, and a report is to be sent to the procurator fiscal." McGowan and his team-mates had attended the club's player of the year celebrations earlier on Sunday evening. McGowan, who has also played for Hamilton and St Mirren, was signed by former Dens Park boss Paul Hartley in 2014. He has made 130 appearances for the Dark Blues and scored six goals.


VIDEO: Dundee Schools Music Theatre pupils pick up circus tricks

August 10 2016

Pupils from Dundee Schools Music Theatre learned the Moscow State secrets of the circus. They visited the Moscow State Circus, which is performing in Caird Park until Sunday, to pick up a few pointers ahead of the company’s production of Barnum. The cast were given the chance to train with circus members before the first Dundee performance of the circus on Wednesday afternoon.. Dundee Schools Music Theatre will be performing Barnum at the Dundee Rep from August 17 to 20.


Carrie Fisher’s Dashing White Sergeant on Dundee station platform

January 4 2017

Carrie Fisher went from a galaxy far, far away to dancing the Dashing White Sergeant at Dundee railway station, it has been revealed. The actress, best known for playing Princess Leia in Star Wars, died at the age of 60 on December 27, four days after suffering a heart attack on a plane. Her mother Debbie Reynolds died the following day after suffering a stroke. But is has now been revealed Ms Fisher enjoyed a trip to Scotland that culminated in a ceilidh on the deserted platform at Dundee railway station. Writing in The Times, journalist Roderick Grant recalled travelling around Scotland on board The Royal Scotsman with the actress. While The Blues Brothers star was one of the fee-paying tourists on the trip, he had been commissioned to write a magazine article about the journey. He revealed Fisher, accompanied by her French bulldog Gary, had been unimpressed by a visit to Glamis Castle — the Queen Mother's ancestral home — because of the dim lighting within the building. But that did not stop her splashing out £500 on a cashmere dog coat from the castle's gift shop before both Carrie and Gary took part in some Scottish country dancing in Dundee railway station. At midnight, an accordion orchestra led the 28 passengers on the £1,500 a day trip on to the deserted platform at Dundee railway station where they danced The Dashing White Sergeant and eightsome reels. Gilchrist wrote: "I partner Carrie, and Gary is here too of course, dashing in and our of the dancers' feet. Carrie appears transfixed with joy by this simple pleasure." Ms Fisher's daughter Billie Lourd broke her silence about the deaths of her mother and grandmother, who died within a day of each other, on Monday. The 24-year-old posted on social media site Instagram: "Receiving all of your prayers and kind words over the past week has given me strength during a time I thought strength could not exist.” “There are no words to express how much I will miss my Abadaba and my one and only Momby. Your love and support means the world to me.” A joint funeral is planned for the two actresses.


Conde Nast provides international recognition for Dundee’s renaissance

December 15 2017

One of the world's leading travel magazines has singled out Dundee as one of the main reaons to visit the UK in 2018. Condé Nast Travller magazine also includes an articled by Dundee-born comedian and writer Danny Wallace about the city's recent renaissance. Including the UK in its 10 destinations to watch in 2018, the magazine cites Dundee as  one of the main reasons to visit the UK, along with London and Bristol. It states: "A surprise entry this year: Dundee. Its soon-to-be-launched V&A Museum of Design, large populations of galleries and art students, and plum spot on the Firth of Tay make a strong case for a highland fling." * For more on this story — including why Dundee is no longer the butt of jokes for comedians — pick up Saturday's culturally cognisant Courier, also available as a digital edition.  


Dundee man seeking to solve Alien mystery

April 28 2016

A Dundee man is hoping to find proof his baseball cap has origins that are out of the world. Science fiction fan Donald Suttie bought a hat in September that he believes was worn in the movie Alien by cult actor Harry Dean Stanton. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYPaQfLg08c He is hoping to get the cap authenticated as the genuine article worn by the actor when he played the role of doomed technician Brett in Ridley Scott's 1979 classic. Harry Dean Stanton's character Brett is the second person to die in the movie, after John Hurt is killed by the creature bursting from his chest. Stanton has starred in a host of cult films including Repo Man, Paris, Texas, Red Dawn and Pretty in Pink. He also made a cameo appearance in Avengers Assemble. Donald, a collector of film memorabilia, acquired the cap last year. It bears the logo of the USCSS Nostromo and he believes the prop was originally acquired from film studio 20th Century Fox for the Alien War interactive experience which was launched in Glasgow in the early 1990s. He has now sought the advice of experts, including some who worked on the original Alien move, in a bid to verify its authenticity. He said: "I bought if from a chap who wasn't quite sure of its background and so sold it to me on that understanding. "He had got it from one of the guys behind Alien War, which began at The Arches in Glasgow." Donald said he thinks the cap, which has the initials HDS written inside, was made for Harry Dean Stanton for the movie, although may not be the exact one he wore on screen. "I spoke to Dennis Lowe, which was involved in Alien as a special effects technician , and he said the badge appears genuine. "I also spoke to Lee Stringer, who is a film-maker and Alien fanatic, and he told me they made caps for all the cast members but only Harry Dean Stanton wore his in the film." Alien was filmed at Pinewood Studios in England and has inspired numerous sequels and prequels. Other movie props owned by Donald include the sunglasses worn by Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible. Remarkably he owns two other Alien caps - although these are only replicas of the one worn in the film.  


Dundee smokers needed for university’s vaping study

January 27 2017

Smokers in Dundee are being recruited for a new study that will examine the potential health risks of vaping. Researchers at Dundee University are looking for 135 volunteers who have been smoking for at least two years and who smoke more than 15 tobacco cigarettes a day, or the equivalent amount of rolling tobacco, for the vital research. The effects of smoking on blood vessels will then be compared to the blood vessels of those who use e-cigarettes. The VESUVIUS study is being funded by the British Heart Foundation who say more work is needed to understand the potential impact of vaping on heart and circulatory health. Smokers who sign up for the study will be put into one of three possible treatment groups: continuing with tobacco cigarettes, switching to e-cigarettes with nicotine or e-cigarettes without nicotine. Dr Jacob George, who is leading the study, said: "Many people are using e-cigarettes to help them stop smoking and they are sold on the principle that they're a much safer alternative to traditional cigarettes because they don't contain harmful substances like tobacco and tar. "But just like traditional cigarettes, most of the do contain nicotine, which can be harmful to blood vessels. "So it's essential to know how much safer they really are, compared to tobacco cigarettes." Participants will have to make two visits to Ninewells Hosptial, four weeks apart. There, they will provide blood and breath samples as well as receiving a blood pressure check and undergoing a non-invasive ultrasound examination of blood vessels in their arm. British Heart Foundation Scotland director James Cant said: "We all know that smoking tobacco raises our risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease. "E-cigs have been hailed by some as a great way to help smokers quit but little is actually known about their impact on our heart and circulatory system. That's why we're delighted to funding this important research." Anyone who wants to take part should contact trial manager Pippa Hopkinson on 01382 383195 or 07850 540230. Alternatively, they can email vesuvius@dundee.ac.uk


Scottish Water warning after Monifieth drain blocked by wet wipes

January 29 2018

Scottish Water has reminded homeowners not to flush wet wipes down toilets after they clogged up a Monifieth sewer. Engineers from Scottish Water removed thousands of the items after they were called to a blockage in the Angus town earlier this month. In total, the team filled five rubbish bags with wipes that had been dumped into a single section of sewer. Scottish Water’s Cycle Campaign urges customers to use the "Three Ps rule" reminding them to flush only "pee, poo and toilet paper". A spokesman for Scottish Water said dispatching articles such as wipes, nappies or cotton buds down the toilet could cause drains to block. Offending items should go in the bin, not down the toilet, even if the packaging claims they are flushable. Sanitary items , condoms, incontinence pads, colostomy bags, used bandages and contact lenses are also on the no-no list. Gavin Noble, Scottish Water sewer response team teader for Angus said: “The volume of wipes from this recent blockage in Angus is an ideal chance to remind customers of the consequences of putting inappropriate items down the toilet. “Every year there are around 37,000 blocked drains and sewers across Scotland, which can cause flooding and pollute rivers, burns and coastal waters. “Around 80% of these blockages that clog up the cycle are caused by either inappropriate items being put down the toilet, or fat, oil and grease being put down the sink. “We believe the best way to tackle blocked drains and sewer flooding is to work together to help prevent blockages that can clog up the cycle in the first place and we would urge customers to follow the Scottish Water Cycle Campaign.” Wet wipes are also known to contribute to the formation of "fatbergs" in sewers. These are massive blockages caused by fat, wet wipes and nappies congealing. Last year Thames Water revealed it had discovered a 250-metre long fatberg beneath Whitechapel in London. It weighed the same as 11 double decker buses and could have caused raw sewage to spill onto the streets. Workmen spent three weeks breaking up the mass with shovels and high-powered hoses.