Category Archives: Tramway Glasgow

Scottish Ballet, Swan Lake. Bloggers Event with NARS Make-Up, April 2016


Picture Credit: Scottish Ballet

For the first time in over 20 years Scottish Ballet will bring Swan Lake to the stage. This world premiere adaptation is a modern and imaginative retelling of the timeless tale.

It’s the love story between Siegfried and the beautiful swan queen Odette, but he betrays her by mistakenly declaring his love for the dark seductress Odile.

Odette forgives him but the trust between them can’t be repaired.

At a bloggers’ event held at Scottish Ballet headquarters in the Tramway in Glasgow, we got behind the scenes and watched a rehearsal. Precision seems to be key. It’s not just enough to get the movements in place. The choreographer gets under the skin of every move to nail down minuscule details. A very subtle adjustment or emphasis really does make a difference even something such as “lead with the foot, not the thigh”. Meanwhile a dancer is told “I want feel like I don’t want to meet you in a dark alleyway and just now I’m feeling like I could take you”. Very subtly – the movement and emphasis changes as the dancer conveys an air of jerky, aggression and menace.

And what’s the difference between Odette and Odile, the good/bad swan? There will be many ways to convey these idiosyncrasies which will be carefully scrutinized by choreographer David Dawson – who knows exactly what he is looking for.

But apart from dance, other factors will come into play to differentiate between the two swans. One white and one black costume … and a quick change of lipstick.

Scottish Ballet have enlisted the help of NARS make-up artists, who have their work cut out to ensure that make-up stays put under the testing conditions of stage lighting, heat, sweat, close body contact with other dancers and many performances.



They also have to convey the differences and changeover from Odette and Odile, often portrayed by the same dancer, in a minimal amount of time. And a quick change of lipstick does the trick. With the make-up base in place including a classic smoky eye, Odette the white queen is luminous, natural and beautiful with a subtle nude lipstick.  A quick wash with a bright red lipstick and she becomes Odile – dark, dangerous and seductive.







Swan Lake premieres at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow on April 19th, and tours thereafter. For tour dates see below.

For more information on Scottish Ballet and Swan Lake, see Scottish Ballet Website

NARS lipsticks used were: Velvet Matt Lip Pencil in Belle de Jour (nude) and Cruella (red). You can book an appointment at the NARS counter of Frasers Glasgow for advice and a make-over.  For more information see Frasers Glasgow / NARS

Theatre Royal, Glasgow
Tue 19 – Sat 23 Apr 2016
Box office: 0844 871 7647
Book online

His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen
Wed 27 – Sat 30 Apr 2016
Box office: 01224 641122
Book online

Eden Court, Inverness
Wed 4 – Sat 7 May 2016
Box office: 01463 234234
Book online

Theatre Royal, Newcastle
Wed 11 – Sat 14 May 2016
Box office: 08448 11 21 21
Book online

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
Wed 25 – Sat 28 May 2016
Box office: 0131 529 6000
Book online

Empire Theatre, Liverpool
Wed 1 – Sat 4 Jun 2016
Box office: 0151 702 7320
Book online




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Filed under Dance, Events, Make-Up, Scotland, Scottish Ballet, Theatre Royal, Tramway Glasgow

Scottish Ballet Winter Season 2015 – Cinderella

Scottish Ballet - Cinderella

During the festive season there’s a few things you can be sure of. John Lewis bringing you a heart-rending advert, parents searching for the latest must-have toys, shops seducing you with sequins making you buy an impractical party dress you’ll only wear once, while all your good taste disappears as soon as you pull on that novelty jumper with the flashing lights. And after a few drinks you’ll be misty-eyed, singing The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York, while hugging your pals. Yes, it’s the season to be silly.

But there is one reassuringly stylish event in the festive calendar, and it’s from Scottish Ballet, who inject some class into Christmas. Every year they pull out the stops to bring a sparkling and magical seasonal ballet to life on stage.

This year it’s the turn of one of our favourite rags-to-riches stories. Where the poor girl really does get it all, and there’s more sparkles than you can shake a fairy godmother wand at.

Cinderella is about to undergo her transformation and find her beau, assisted by a glass slipper and a little fairy magic.

But before the festive fun kicked off, the award winning company warmed up with their autumn season, and at a special bloggers’ preview event, I got behind the scenes at the Ballet’s headquarters located in Glasgow’s Tramway.

The autumn season was a double bill consisting of Elsa Canasta by Javier de Frutos and Motion of Displacement by Bryan Arias. An informal chat to the dancers revealed the challenges of working side by side on two very different ballets, each bringing a choreographer with an individual style and method. A tour of the costume department lead to the most important part of a dancer’s attire – their shoes.

Scottish Ballet

Scottish Ballet

Scottish Ballet

As a joiner needs a screwdriver, a ballet dancer needs their shoes. They are their tools of their trade. A dancer can use up to three pairs of shoes per performance, and Scottish Ballet uses over 2,000 pairs of shows during each winter season. Each pair of shoes costs £40. Therefore the company spends more than £20,000 on shoes each winter. That’s enough to keep Carrie Bradshaw and her Sex & The City girlfriends in Manolo Blahnik’s for a long time.

Scottish Ballet have cleverly launched their own Cinderella Shoe Appeal, and it’s where you can get involved by contributing to the cost of a dancer’s shoes. See more about this on their website and see the film below.

Meanwhile, this production of Cinderella, created by Christopher Hampson for the Royal New Zealand Ballet in 2007, comes to Scotland for its European premiere.

The show opened at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre on December 5th and remains there until the 31st. Then with a wave of a fairy godmother wand – it will cast its spell over Glasgow’s Theatre Royal in January before visiting Aberdeen and Inverness. For a list of dates and venues, see below and get a glimpse of the magic by having a peek at the official Scottish Ballet trailer.


Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
Sat 5 – Thu 31 Dec 2015
Box Office: 0131 529 6000
Book online
Full venue details

Theatre Royal, Glasgow
Tue 12 – Sat 16 Jan 2016
Box Office: 0844 871 7647
Book online
Full venue details

His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen
Wed 20 – Sat 23 Jan 2016
Box Office: 01224 641122
Book online
Full venue details

Eden Court, Inverness
Wed 27 – Sat 30 Jan 2016
Box Office: 01463 234 234
Book online
Full venue details




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Filed under Scotland, Scottish Ballet, Theatre reviews, Tramway Glasgow

TEDx Glasgow, June 12th, 2015


At this year’s TEDx Glasgow the theme was “Why Not Here?” and showcased some of the innovative and inspiring projects that are born on our doorstep. What quickly became apparent was – where it all really begins – inside yourself. A quality which was seen in all the speakers – Passion.

Behind the scenes, TEDx curator Gurjit Singh Lalli accompanied by a band of partners and volunteers put together a great event. The Tramway in Glasgow was an excellent venue, the catering was delicious, there were interesting breakout labs, everyone got a goody bag and even the weather was sunny.

The day was hosted by Sanjeev Kohli and Heather Suttie. The first speaker was Mark Beaumont, TV presenter, broadcaster, cyclist and adventurer. He’s been round the globe on an 18,000 mile bike race where he smashed the previous world record by 82 days. He appeared at TEDx not long after completing his latest trip – cycling from Cairo to Cape Town in just 41 days.


Someone who is constantly leaving home might be oddly placed on a bill discussing “Why Not Here?” but when he said “your passion is your best starting point”, you understand the catalyst – and Beaumont has passion in spades. He gave an inspirational insight into his adventures. He said we should recognise, nurture and share our passion with the world to give other people confidence, because you don’t know what you could inspire them to be.

Steve Waygood, Chief Responsible Investment Officer for Aviva Investors – is passionate about finance. It can be easy to associate finance with greed and corruption, but Steve Waygood demonstrated a passion for the collective effect of people and how we can shape companies to provide ethical funds and solutions to our banking.

Norman Drummond, CBE, FRSE, took us to the ‘hill road.’  In a world of constant communication overload via multiple mobile devices, how often do you step back and switch off? He advised us to find a “hill road”, referring to Ramsay MacDonald, who was born the illegitimate son of a housemaid and farm labourer and rose to become the first Labour Prime Minister of Britain in 1924. MacDonald reportedly said “if friends fail me, the hill road never does.”  Norman Drummond speaks of it in his book Step Back. Do you have a hill road in your life? Find a place of refuge and retreat to the solitude. It can be a physical place you can get to, Drummond’s is in the Isle of Skye, but it’s enough to switch off in your head and go somewhere in your imagination.

Judy Murray and tennis are inextricably linked and she gave a fascinating insight into her quest to bring tennis to Scotland, where there were limited opportunities for children to take up the sport. Judy’s talk epitomised creating a silk purse from a sow’s ear. She started with a blank canvas and a fierce passion. “You’re only as good as your grass roots”, she said, so she taught herself everything from nutrition, coaching, IT skills, media relations to completing funding applications. She’s shaken up the sport in Scotland and brought many benefits, including world class players and coaches. Her work continues with her Mis-Hits project where she encourages girls into the sport.


Rachel Robyns Laird said she shouldn’t be here. She went to the doctor aged 17 and as she described it – heard  the three words which changed her life – “you have cancer”. She has now been in remission for two years since she received the shock diagnosis of Leukaemia. While having treatment she started her blog called Rachel Bouncing Back. At TEDx she was supporting a campaign to encourage more people to give blood. Around 40 blood transfusions kept her alive during her treatment, and she told us how just one donation can save up to three lives.

Rachel’s Blog – Rachel Bouncing Back

Karen McCluskey is the Director of the Violence Reduction Unit. Straight talking and fiercely passionate, she’s the type of person you would go to if you ever needed someone to fight your corner. She showed us a Glasgow we don’t want to see or we deny exists. Thankfully people like McCluskey don’t shirk, deny or shy away from problems but tackle them and get straight to their roots. She said early years are crucial for children as they follow their parents lead and she spoke of Scotland’s Dandelion Children – the children who emerge through the cracks, fighting to survive and strive in a world where they have no positive male role models around them.

As part of a project she rounded up gang members and listened to statements such as “without a gang I’m nothing” and also let them hear the words of a mother who had cradled her 16-year-old son as he lay dying, the victim of a gang. Those gang members then received a confidential escape route, a helpline to contact for advice on where to go and what to do if they wanted to make different choices. McCluskey never expected to hear from any of them – but hundreds made contact.

She also spoke about an employment scheme where some people who had never worked were helped into work around the time of Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games. The fact that now 80% of those people are still in full time employment is vitally important to McCluskey as between them they had around 100 children. She left us with three questions to ponder: Who are you? What do you do? Why does it matter?

Professor Jim Duffy is listed as the Chief Executive Optimist of Entrepreneurial Spark. He told us to stop the negative self talk that appears in our heads. He said we should move outside our comfort zone and think and act like an entrepreneur in everything we do in life. And Why Not Here, Why Not Now?  Take action he said #GoDo.

Dr Libby McGuigan has been an NHS emergency medicine consultant for nine years. She posed the question – why do some people survive, recover and thrive against the odds? She argued that our thoughts influence our physiology and used the excellent example of Viktor Frankl who wrote his book Man’s Search for Meaning after he survived imprisonment in a Nazi concentration camp. She cited his quote “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”  Viktor E. Frankl

She also mentioned Cathie Grout’s book “Rabbits Don’t Get Lymphoma, Kissing My Cancer Goodbye”, where Grout imagined her tumors shrinking.

The message from McGuigan was – what we think matters, and repetitive practiced thought changes outcomes. You have to want to live and engage with life. Studies have shown that optimists live longer and have better immunity. She said, true empowerment is choosing how you think and feel – Why not here? Why not now?



Image from MadeBrave – for more on their design see: MadeBrave Website

Phil Smith is the CEO of Cisco for UK and Ireland. He represented Team GB in his age group at the Triathlon World Championships in Edmonton , Canada in August 2014. His used his passion for sport to explain the business world. Key elements of competing in triathlons include making good use of resources, how you react and adapt to transitions, and having the stamina to complete something. Three also seems to be a magic number, as Smith identified the three components of change – business is changing, people are changing and change is changing. He saw the future of business as being a battle for talent and he stressed that it’s important to be seen as someone who is human rather than a business leader.

Amos Miller is director of Enterprise Strategy Microsoft Asia. He was born with sight but with a genetic condition which meant he knew he would lose the ability to see. By the time he graduated from university he had his first guide dog and he also became a trustee of the Guide Dogs’ Trust.  He knew technology had a part to play in helping blind people and he set about developing headsets that describe surroundings and paint a visual picture. Miller reminded us of things we take for granted – the everyday getting from A to B, the lights were dimmed and he said “you have to feel that very experience in your bones.”  We went on a few journeys, one where the world was chaotic and another wearing an imaginary headset which added information and colour, and in Miller’s words “light up the world with sound.” The headset journey reminded of the movie Amelie,  when she took  a blind man by the arm, lead him through the streets of Paris and described the world around him in great detail, and the blind man’s face lit up with joy. Miller reminded us that there is much more to a journey than orientation and that blind people do have imaginations. On trialing his headset he has received feedback from participants who have said  “I feel more connected, I felt more confident, I feel more resilient and I am more aware of my surroundings.”

2015-06-12 17.36.31

Anne Richards is the Chief Investment Officer for Aberdeen Asset Management. She gave an honest insight into her family, and used the example to illustrate the changing roles of women. Richards’ great grandmother didn’t work and had 10 children but contrast this to Richards’ own mother, 60 years later, who graduated in law. We heard that in 1911 35% of women in the UK worked while in 2014 that figure stood at 68%, and we also heard how technology changed women’s lives – especially inventions like the washing machine. She also identified a need to get more girls interested in STEM  (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). She said the media was often guilty of reinforcing stereotypes and some employers succumb to gender bias. It was suggested we remove our names and the school we attended from our CVs to get a more open recruitment process and she emphasised that mixed teams make better problem solvers, as she called for more diversity.

Paula McGuire is listed as a recovering recluse and is the author of blog Paula Must Try Harder. Like a little ball of energy Paula lit up the stage during her talk about anxiety. She’s an amazing example of how to turn something which appears negative into a positive. For her, going into a shop at age 32 was as big an adventure as leaping out of an airplane. And while her adventures are very different from cyclist Mark Beaumont, the two of them share an intrepid travelling spirit. Their adventures start from within. Paula said “adventure is in the inside, you have to take it with you.”  To battle her extreme anxiety she became known as the girl who tried everything – including all 17 Commonwealth sports. She even tried triathlon when she couldn’t swim. Her talk was full of great inspirational soundbites such as “Don’t think you don’t deserve adventure, adventure is a part of you” and “turn anxieties into your biggest adventures”.

And what about barriers?  Paula admitted that she had lots, but she turned her “barriers into climbing frames”.  She said her climbing frame was her twitch – something she hated about herself and made her want to hide but now she uses it to give people an insight into her and help them lower their guard. She reminded us “own your faults and then they can’t own you.” 

Paula’s Blog – Paula Must Try Harder

Professor James Brewer is chair in Basic Immunology at University of Glasgow and in a fascinating and entertaining talk, he likened our immune systems to dating. Sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time. We heard how our immune system produces millions of cells called lymphocytes. Each lymphocyte is specific for something but they need to find their partners among the millions of potential options travelling around the body.

Sometimes you just have to have an unshakable belief even when people scoff at your ideas. When Craig Clark, CEO of Clyde Space, said  Glasgow was going to be a space capital of the world, more than a few people raised a cynical eyebrow and retorted “we don’t do space in Glasgow”.  But now the city has 35 satellites waiting for their final destinations with the first one being launched this year. This is a new breed of satellite, lighter, cheaper and smaller, and they can be used to tell us so much more about our environment. The Space Capital of The World? Why Not Here?

Create your own CubeSat from Clyde Space website

Create your own CubeSat from Clyde Space website

Alice Thompson is co-founder of Social Bite, a Scottish based sandwich shop that operates with a philosophy to change people’s lives for the better. She told us about Joe who was homeless and how Social Bite offered him a job and a different way of life. This wasn’t a sugar-coated Hollywood movie story but a realistic and rocky journey, with many challenges along the way for both Alice and Joe. The experience has proved invaluable to Social Bite as it has helped them form a strategy where adequate support networks are in place for employees. Now Social Bite currently has 16 members of staff who have come from homeless backgrounds and Alice reiterated that all employers can play a part, that they have the capability to change a person’s life by giving them a job and a chance. She said “Break the chain and employ a homeless person. Why now here? Why not now?”

For more information: Social Bite website

Finishing off the day was Chris Hampson, the Artistic Director of Scottish Ballet who are a great example of creativity born on our doorstep and taken all over the world to thrill, entertain and inspire others. He introduced us to Scottish Ballet’s Oxymore, a “duet” of two solos choreographed by Sophie Laplane.

If ever we needed proof that this is a great country  – events like TEDx Glasgow are there to remind, reinforce, educate and inspire us.

For more information see: TEDx Website




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Filed under Events, Glasgow, TEDx, Tramway Glasgow

Macbeth, Tramway, Glasgow, June 26, 2012

Alan Cumming is brilliant in National Theatre of Scotland’s production of Shakespeare’s murderous play. I sat through the whole 100 minutes mesmerized by his one-man Macbeth performance.

Alan Cumming as Macbeth. Picture credit Albert Watson

Alan Cumming as Macbeth. Picture credit Albert Watson

Set in a Victorian hospital, we are introduced to Cumming, a disheveled wreck of a man, as a male nurse (Ali Craig) and female doctor (Myra McFadyen), take his possessions, strip him, give him pyjamas and admit him to the ward. Then as they part, confined within the high green tiled walls, Cumming shouts in dismay the play’s opener “When shall we three meet again?”

It’s an engaging start and from therein Cumming commands the stage as every twist and turn, slight nuance, movement and intonation sees him shape shift on stage, sometimes in contortions, sometimes more subtly, seamlessly slipping out of one skin into another, through the key characters of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, King Duncan, Banquo, Macduff and witches.

The effect is dramatic, dark and disturbing. Occasionally the doctor and nurse appear to administer drugs, mostly they watch from a window above. There are CCTV cameras and sometimes distorted noise.

As the play unfolded the air was deathly silent. The silence only broken by a standing ovation at the play’s conclusion, when Malcolm (played by a doll), took his rightful place on the throne.

As a concept, it worked. The setting of a psychiatric hospital fitted with Macbeth’s unhinged mind, (“full of scorpions”) and the descent into mental illness, which is also displayed by Lady Macbeth. Having Cumming play all the parts could also be seen to further emphasize mental illness through split personalities and having other people and voices occupying someone’s head.

However, a lot of questions were left hanging in the air and at the performance I attended, Cumming and director John Tiffany conducted a question and answer session chaired by journalist Janice Forsyth.

Cumming has been working out. He’s lean, fit and agile, sometimes arching and twisting with the sly, sleek, suppleness of a cat, especially during a scene where Lady Macbeth seduces her husband. He often appears with a bare torso, he strips off to get in a bath and he is often only wearing pants. It’s showing someone at their most vulnerable.

“It’s the most fun you’ll ever have watching someone wearing grey pants” jokes Cumming. But he admits it’s draining, not only physically (he has new bruises every day) but emotionally.

He admits he’s been in places before where he’s not managed to let some roles go at the end of the night and he’s struggled, but this time all the characters are left at the stage door.

The play is directed by John Tiffany, known for the Black Watch, and Andrew Goldberg. Tiffany has recently won a Tony award for Once, an adaptation of the film starring Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová.

Tiffany was also reminded recently of an interview he gave to a newspaper years ago, when he claimed he would “never do Shakespeare.” On stage Tiffany laughed and explained that as a 14-year-old boy he didn’t understand the Bard’s writings. He felt too stupid for Shakespeare and the experience stayed with him.

There were a few school groups in the audience and perhaps the teenagers related to these sentiments. Some of them seemed quite awestruck at seeing Cumming, a Hollywood star who they’ve no doubt seen in films like Goldeneye and X2: X-Men United. They were eager to ask lots of insightful questions.

Tiffany also concluded that another advantage of their adaptation was that they could cut out the “boring parts” but still retain all the important text and plot, and some characters like Lennox and Scottish lords fell by the wayside.

The identity of the man in hospital caused debate. Initially he appeared as a victim but by the play’s conclusion he was the perpetrator of a heinous crime. Apparently during rehearsals he had the name of Fred.

And during rehearsals the characters seemed to take on their own identities. Tiffany said he would sometimes turn up on set and say “Lady Macbeth isn’t happy with her part.”

During discussions held with various medical professionals and psychiatrists it was revealed that Lady Macbeth is often looked at as an example for students studying OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).

One of the interesting parts of the play which Cumming highlighted was the impact of how split decisions can alter your life. In Macbeth, the decision was made to murder, and the eventual and inevitable descent followed.

It seems Cumming is a bit of a workaholic, this was his “break” from his other job, where he stars as Eli Gold in the American legal drama series The Good Wife. Even during time off from Macbeth, Cumming has been giving interviews and appearing on television. And prior to rehearsals he recorded an audiobook of the play as well as Macbeth: A Novel by David Hewson and A J Hartley. Cumming seems to have a problem with sitting still, something which Tiffany joked about.

When asked who would play Cumming in a film, the answer was Cate Blanchett. It must be to do with her fabulous bone structure, something Cumming is also not short of.

Moving on to future work Cumming said he didn’t want other actors thinking – “oh that’s him – he’ll be wanting all the parts for himself.” He laughed “I will work with other actors. I’ve loved doing this but I don’t think I’ll be doing something like this again in a hurry.”

The play has finished its run in Glasgow and moves the Lincoln Center Festival in New York from July 5 – 14.

National Theatre of Scotland

Lincoln Center Festival

Alan Cumming Blog


Filed under National Theatre of Scotland, Theatre reviews, Tramway Glasgow