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Perth pair team up for Dundee disaster play The Signalman
Former Perth Theatre artistic director Ken Alexander is getting together with award-winning Perth actor Tom McGovern for Perth Theatre’s production of The Signalman this September.
Running in Perth Theatre from Thursday 23 September until Saturday 2 October, the intimate and absorbing play based around the Tay Rail Bridge disaster is the first production to welcome audiences into the auditorium since COVID-19 closed the theatre in March 2020.
Poignantly, The Signalman was to be the next Perth Theatre production after The Importance of Being Earnest, the show that was running when the venue was forced to shut down.
Directed by Ken Alexander and starring Tom McGovern, The Signalman tells the story of Thomas Barclay, the Signalman who sent the Edinburgh/Burntisland train onto the Tay Rail Bridge on a stormy 1879 night with fatal consequences.
It poses the questions who is responsible when accidents occur? Why is there a difference between what we feel and what we know? Why do we need somebody to blame… even if it’s ourselves?
Written by Peter Arnott, The Signalman was originally performed at A Play, A Pie and A Pint in association with the Traverse Theatre. The play swept the boards at the 2020 Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland picking up Best Male Performance (Tom McGovern), Best New Play (Peter Arnott) and Best Production, with a nomination for Ken Alexander in the Best Director category.
Ken Alexander said:
“We’re delighted to be revisiting The Signalman following the original run at Oran Mor in Glasgow and the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh. Having been invited by Lu Kemp to re-imagine the piece for Perth Theatre’s main stage, we have enhanced the set and lighting design by bringing Becky Minto (Designer) and Wayne Dowdeswell (Lighting Designer) on to the team along with a further developed soundscape composed by Jon Beales. The intention, however, is to remain true to the original concept of paring everything back to the reveal power of pure storytelling with the tale of a man who is haunted by his past.
“Tom McGovern is an actor whose work I have admired for many years and, despite the fact that we both live in Perth, The Signalman provided us with our first opportunity to work together – thanks to the brilliant Peter Arnott, who has written the play. It has been a really exciting experience to witness Tom bringing Thomas Barclay – the Signalman of the title – to life. It’s an extraordinary and mesmerising performance.
“Having trained as a director at Perth Theatre with the legendary Joan Knight, and subsequently taking up the role of Artistic Director for a year in 2004/5, it feels like an incredible honour to be directing the first play on Perth Theatre’s main stage following the closure that was forced by the pandemic last year. I am sure that the beautiful and deeply atmospheric Edwardian auditorium will be the perfect setting for the story of the man who let the last train onto the Tay Bridge before its catastrophic collapse in 1879.”
The Signalman is in Perth Theatre from Thursday 23 September until Saturday 2 October. For tickets and information visit www.horsecross.co.uk or visit Perth Theatre Box Office or call the Ticketing team on 01738 621031 between 10am and 4pm from Monday to Friday.
The theatre season continues with a new Perth Theatre production of Molière’s classic comedy Don Juan in October. Reminding audiences of the days of Joan Knight when Molière was a regular crowd-pleasing favourite, the mischievous mash-up of greed, passion and playing the field is just as relevant for 21st century audiences as it has ever been. The National Theatre of Scotland’s The Enemy - a uniquely Scottish and contemporary take on Henrik Ibsen’s timeless work – tours to the theatre in November.
Perth’s much-loved panto dame Barrie Hunter returns as one half of an utterly hilarious ugly sister double act in Perth Theatre’s family panto Cinderella running throughout the festive season.
For all the info about these and other upcoming shows in Perth Theatre and Perth Concert Hall visit www.horsecross.co.uk.
Horsecross Arts is supported by Creative Scotland, Perth & Kinross Council and The Gannochy Trust.