Glasgow Citizens' Theatre 1957-1969 : the middle years
The early years of the Glasgow Citizens' Theatre were dominated by its founder, James Bridie, and by the influence which his legacy exerted over those who worked there in the time immediately following his death. This period can be said to last from the Theatre's opening (1943) until the arrival of Peter Duguid, the first director not immediately influenced by Bridie's aims and objects (1957). From 1969 until the present day, Giles Havergal and his associates have been in charge, and they have created, in its international-style motivation, something unique in British theatre, famous outside these shores, but totally at variance with the founder's aspirations. These two eras bear their own recognisable stamps, but in between stretch the 'middle years' - twelve seasons parcelled out among seven directors, an extraordinary series of lofty peaks and corresponding valleys, but comprising, in spite of - or because of - their diversity, a remarkable sum total of achievement. And yet thi s is the period when - many believe - nothing really happened. Why were these years so fragmented? Three of the directorships lasted for one season only, and the others had individual styles of their own: Duguid was in sympathy with American plays, Callum Mill with European; Michael Meacham and Michael Blakemore were, on the whole, more English orientated, and the work of Iain Cuthbertson probably came nearer than anyone's, in content, to the Citizens' of James Bridie's vision. Every individual regime of these twelve seasons had its glories, and it is perhaps, the series of 'new beginnings' which give the 'middle years' their lasting impact. Relationships between Director and Theatre Board were frequently difficult; both were true to their principles, but these were times when the whole moral and social climate of Britain, its type of 'media appreciation', were in flux. The ideas of 1943 were no longer valid twenty years later and the problems of adjustment between 1957 and 1969 came close, in the end, to wrecking the whole enterprise. It is only now, with the dust of battle cleared away, that it is possible to see the era in the importance of its true perspective.