Shakespeare staged at the deep end of southside theatre

Shakespeare comes to Govanhill Baths this week as part of the Southside Fringe programme, as Hamlet is given a female touch.

The Govanhill Theatre Group have broken away from the Strathclyde Theatre Group (the company behind last year’s Steaming), and first production Hamlet features an all-female cast — as well as a seal of approval from the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Morna McGeoch co-directs and stars as Hamlet in Govanhill Theatre Group's Southside Fringe production

Morna McGeoch co-directs and stars as Hamlet in Govanhill Theatre Group's Southside Fringe production

Co-director Bruce Downie told The Extra: “I’ve realised that we have to be more focused on this particular venue and on the southside.

“It takes a lot of dedication to make the baths work as a venue e, and I think in order to create a viable performance space, you have to work hard to connect with the community.

“It’s Glasgow’s own courtyard theatre in a sense, and one of the biggest stages in the city. And what better way to kick off our new group than with one of the great plays, in association with one of the greatest theatre companies in the world?”

The RSC involvement is part of the Open Stages programme, and cast members have been attending workshops at Dundee Rep, as well receiving advice from RSC mentor, director Joe Douglas .

Bringing Hamlet to the stage has been a long time coming for Bruce, co-directing alongside lead actress Morna McGeoch.

He said: “Everyone has a connection to Hamlet, and any actor worth their salt wants to tackle it one day.

“It’s been a dream of mine to direct it — and with a venue worthy of the great play, now was the time to do it.”

The all-female cast ties in well with the Southside Fringe’s Women in the Fringe strand — but for the Govanhill company, it’s about allowing actresses to step into unusual roles.

Bruce added: “Women don’t get to play the tragic hero or the tyrant very often. It’s exciting for them to have the opportunity to play emotions which are common to everyone, but that women don’t always get to play — to go on that emotional journey on stage.

“This time, they get to be hell-bent on revenge, or take part in the big sword fight.”

Hamlet opens alongside the Fringe tomorrow (May 9) and runs until May 17 . Tickets are £10 (£8) from Brown Paper Tickets.