Although the West End of Glasgow is dominated by the University, it has fewer theatres: The Oran Mor on Byres Road is home to A Play, A Pie and A Pint, a lunchtime season of new works which has successfully exported its format around Scotland, but has only sporadic touring companies (most recently, The Sam Shepherd Roadshow did a few nights); The Cottier’s, with a troubled history of opening and closing; Webster’s Theatre, a recently converted church.
Despite this, the West End is a vibrant hub for the arts, not least due to its annual Festival, which brings together music, performance and comedy during July and makes extensive use of
Cottier’s for both its Chamber Music project and informal plays. The Cottiers was also the location for the Glasgow Cabaret Festival in 2011. Its success, however, has led to expansion and , Pete Sneddon of SCENEGINEERING explained in The Evening Times (10/4/2014) that ‘we plan to… is utilise Cottier’s as more of an event space, for concerts and weddings, which allows us to develop Webster’ as a theatre complex.’ Indeed, the popular pantomime has been transferred from Cottier’s for December 2014.
The programming at Cottier’s and Webster’s does not follow the mainstream of Glasgow’s city centre, but offers space for smaller companies, often outwith the touring circuits or as part of other festivals.
A Play, A Pie and A Pint, however, has established a clear identity.
Now in its twenty-first season, it was founded by David MacLennan in 2004. Running for an hour at lunchtime, it offers a new play every week, and has a loyal audience. Authors featured range from the established - Rona Munro, David Greig and David Harrower have all contributed - through Glasgow favourites such as Kieran Hurley, AJ Taudevin and Gary McNair - to emerging names like Sylvia Dow.
Despite the high turnover of plays, and an emphasis on the script, many successes have begun their life here: most recently, Peter Arnott’s Full Tilt (directed by Cora Bissett and exploring the life of Janis Joplin through a concert format) transferred to the Edinburgh Fringe.
A Play, A Pie and A Pint has become the most energetic producer of new plays in Scotland: the supportive audience, the company’s willingness to take risks on young writers and the week long runs are attractive - even Untitled, a well established Scottish company, have presented a ‘classic cut’ of Hamlet - and the long seasons ensure that there are plenty of opportunities.