3 - 10 OCT  

17 – 24 OCT

31 OCT – 7 NOV

To mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Close Theatre, the radical, anarchic and experimental Studio Theatre adjacent to the Citizens, three of the brightest voices in Scottish theatre will present work rarely seen on the Scottish stage in the Citizens Circle Studio from 30 Oct – 7 Nov.

Debbie Hannan, Matthew Lenton and Gareth Nicholls will direct work by Howard Barker, Sławomir Mrożek and Sam Holcroft.

In 1965 the Close Theatre Club was established as a private members’ club attached to the Citizens Theatre. It enjoyed the freedom to present plays which would otherwise have been censored.  The controversial, challenging, risqué programming in the Close laid the foundations for the productions in the 1970s – 90s that made the Citizens famous across the world and still influences programming at the Citizens Theatre today. The Close Theatre Anniversary Season celebrates the club’s formative influence on the Citizens Theatre and its role in Glasgow’s theatre history with a programme of visceral, experimental and challenging work inspired by the spirit and ethos of the original Close Theatre.

Opening the season is Lot and His God by Howard Barker directed by Debbie Hannan. Barker’s unconventional and challenging work is relatively unknown in his native Britain. A devoted following in continental Europe see his plays regularly performed and this performance offers a unique opportunity to see his work performed on a Scottish stage. ‘Lot and his God’ is a subversive re-telling of the ancient Old Testament tale of Lot and his Wife and the fall of the city of Sodom. It receives its Scottish premiere in Hannan’s production.

Debbie Hannan directed ‘Notes from the Underground’ at the Citizens Theatre in 2013 and assisted Dominic Hill on ‘Crime and Punishment’ and Stuart Laing on ‘The Maids’. She has most recently completed a Director Traineeship at the Royal Court.

Matthew Lenton directs a double bill of surrealist drama by Sławomir Mrożek. Lenton founded Vanishing Point Theatre Company in 1999 and has directed all of the Company’s productions. Recent work for Vanishing Point includes ‘Tomorrow’, ‘Wonderland’ and ‘The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler’.  In 2010, Matthew was chosen to be the first British director of the École des Maîtres’, a European theatre laboratory led by preeminent European artists and directors.

In Striptease, two men are periodically instructed to remove an article of clothing by a gigantic menacing hand, while in Out at Sea three men try to apply logic to decide which becomes dinner for the others. Both embody the Theatre of the Absurd, a distinct form of European drama that utilised surrealism to launch cutting attacks against the political establishment of the 1950s.

Fresh from his five-star production of Into That Darkness, Gareth Nicholls closes the Close Theatre Anniversary Season with Vanya written by Sam Holcroft. Having debuted at Traverse Theatre under Citizens Theatre Artistic Director Dominic Hill’s leadership, Holcroft is now Writer-In-Residence at National Theatre and recently received the prestigious Windham Campbell prize of $150,000 in recognition of her emerging talent as a playwright. Vanya is Holcroft’s response to Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya. Chekov’s work is condensed to fours characters and distilled to create a thrilling and evocative new text.

Nicholls is co-Artistic Director of Utter and currently holds the position of Main Stage Director in Residence at the Citizens Theatre. His previous directing work includes ‘Donald Robertson Is Not A Stand-up Comedian’ which was awarded the Scottish Arts Club Award for Best New Production and Fringe First winner ‘Educating Ronnie’.

All three productions in the Close Theatre Anniversary Season can be enjoyed for a discounted price if booked altogether. Receive £3 off each full priced £14 ticket and get the entire season for £33.

Tickets for the Close Theatre Anniversary Season are on sale now and available from citz.co.uk or by calling the box office on 0141 429 0022.

The season is supported by the Goldberg Charitable Trust in memory of Michael Goldberg, former chair of the Citizens Theatre.

For more information, interviews and images, or to request tickets, please contact Claire Lowney, Marketing Officer claire@citz.co.uk 0141 418 6232.


DATES: 6 – 10 Oct 7.30pm
Preview: 3 Oct 7.30pm
Matinee: 10 Oct 2.30pm

DATES: 20 – 24 Oct 7.30pm
Preview: 17 Oct 7.30pm
Matinee: 24 Oct 2.30pm

DATES: 3 – 7 Nov 7.30pm
Preview: 31 Oct 7.30pm
Matinee: 7 Nov 2.30pm

TICKETS: £14 full price / £13 matinees
£9 previews / concessions
Book all three productions and receive £3 off each full price ticket - £33 for entire season.



The Close Theatre Club was created in 1965 by the Citizens Company as a studio theatre in an adjoining dance hall, mainly to get around the laws of censorship, which forbade showing of certain plays deemed to be unsuitable for general public viewing. The bar remained open after normal drinking hours and it was known as one of the few places you could get a drink on a Sunday. The Club was founded with the financial assistance of Michael Goldberg, who was at that time Chairman of the Citizens Theatre. By creating a club, the Citizens could circumvent the censor and present plays which otherwise would not have been seen. It housed a 150 seat auditorium and its aims were to present already established work in a new form and also to encourage the writing and presentation of new and experimental plays. The Close was successful up until the early 1970s, although by that time theatre clubs were becoming obsolete as a subversive means of expression, as censorship laws were repealed in 1968. The Close Theatre was destroyed by fire in 1973.


In homage to this colourful heritage, and in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Close Theatre, the Citizens Theatre will launch a brand new programme of work dedicated to the radical, anarchic and experimental history of this former cultural institution. With a series of three short seasons (autumn 2015, spring 2016 and summer 2016) this programme will reflect the original Close Theatre’s artistic character, presenting challenging works by European playwrights such as Arrabal, Strindberg and Copi, or radical re-workings of classic plays by contemporary authors such as ‘Vanya’ by Sam Holcroft. Each season a company of actors will present 3 or 4 shows (7 performances per show) with an emphasis on the acting style rather than a reliance on costume, set and design. Performances will be deliberately anarchic and challenging and the theatre will aim to work mostly, but not exclusively, with up and coming directors who can use the space to develop their practice.
As part of the Citizens Theatre’s redevelopment plan, which is projected to be completed by 2019, a permanent space dedicated to the cultivation of this type of experimental theatre is envisaged. The current Close Theatre Anniversary Season acts as a sampler for the kind of work that is planned will be programmed to compliment the work on the main stage.

Debbie trained in directing at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. She directs a range of work originating from a variety of sources, including text-based work, and has a particular interest in work which crosses between theatre and live art, event-theatre, collaborative and cross-form work, non-traditional spaces, and combining text and movement. She was a recipient of the Bank of Scotland New Director’s award with the National Theatre of Scotland, where she assisted John Tiffany and Vicky Featherstone on Enquirer. Previous directing work ‘Hamlet’ (Globe Education), ‘You Cannot Call it Love’ by Howard Barker/Shakespeare (On the Verge festival 2012, Arches), and Pamela Carter’s ‘liberty, equality, fraternity’ (Tron Theatre, Traverse).

Other work includes the development of ‘Yellow Pears’ with Swept-Up Theatre (2012 winner of Bruce Millar award), ‘Roses are Dead’ (Arches Live 2012) and ‘Notes from the Underground’ (Citizens Theatre, September 2013). Her most recent role as Trainee Director at the Royal Court saw her co-direct Theatre Local’s ‘Peckham: The Soap Opera’. She has worked as Assistant Director on various other productions at the Royal Court including ‘How To Hold Your Breath’ by Zinnie Harris, ‘Teh Internet is Serious Business’ by Tim Price, ‘The Nether’ by Jennifer Hayley, ‘Primetime’ by various primary school children, ‘Birdland’ by Simon Stephens and ‘The Mistress Contract’ by Abi Morgan.

Matthew founded Vanishing Point in 1999 and has directed all of the Company’s productions. His current and recent work for Vanishing Point includes ‘Macbeth’ at the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts in Beijing, ‘Tomorrow’, a co-production with Brighton Festival 2014, Cena Contemporânea Brasilia, Stanislavsky Festival Moscow and Tramway, Glasgow; ‘The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler’, a co-production with the National Theatre of Scotland; ‘Wonderland’ at Napoli Teatro Festival Italia, Edinburgh International Festival and Tramway, Glasgow; ‘Saturday Night’ at Teatro Nacional São João in Porto, Teatro São Luis in Lisbon, Centro Cultural Vila Flor in Guimaraes and Tramway; ‘The Beggar’s Opera’ at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, Tramway, Glasgow and the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry; ‘Interiors’ at Napoli Teatro Festival Italia, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh and Lyric Hammersmith and ‘Little Otik’, an adaptation of the film by Jan Svankmajer for National Theatre of Scotland.

His recent credits elsewhere include ‘Home’ for National Theatre of Scotland; Mister Holgado at the Unicorn Theatre, London; ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh and ‘Charlie Sonata’ by Douglas Maxwell at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. His work has been performed in 17 countries, and in 2010 he was the first British director of the École des Maîtres, a European theatre laboratory led by leading European artists and directors. In 2010 he directed his first film, ‘Boy’, for Touchpaper Television and Channel 4.

Gareth trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and currently holds the two-year post of Main Stage Director in Residence at the Citizens Theatre (formerly in partnership with Untitled Projects).

He is co-Artistic Director of new work company Utter and as a freelance director has worked with most theatres in Scotland. His directing credits include ‘Into That Darkness’ by Gitta Sereny (Citizens Theatre); ‘The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot’ by Oliver Emanuel (Macrobert Arts Centre/The Arches), ‘Under Milk Wood’ by Dylan Thomas (Tron Theatre), ‘Donald Robertson Is Not A Stand-Up Comedian’ by Gary McNair (Traverse Theatre), ‘Voices From The Black That I Am’ by Karl O’Brian Williams (Òran Mór/the National Theatre of Scotland) and Fringe First winner ‘Educating Ronnie’ by Joe Douglas/Gareth Nicholls (Utter). Gareth is also an Associate Artist of Company of Angels, London, while previously he’s been a National Theatre of Scotland Emerging Artist and an Imaginate Artist in Residence.

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