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Profile on: Graham McLaren

Graham McLaren, director and designer, has several accomplishments under his belt.  Having put himself through his paces at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, he then spent time acting, and eventually co-founded the internationally-prized theatre babel.  Recently he simultaneously took on the role of co-creative director at Perth theatre.

Graham McLaren and theatre babel

Graham McLaren on set of Hedda Gabler; Photo: Douglas McBride

Graham was just 25 when he co-founded the acclaimed theatre Babel.  His first production followed in 1999.  Under Graham’s direction, theatre Babel has flourished into ‘one of the UK’s most exciting companies celebrated for ambitious programming and stylish, evocative design’.

In 2000, he directed a trilogy of Greek tragedies, performed in one day of ‘epic theatre’.  The Scotland of Sunday described it as ‘...a bold, brazen triumph…a milestone in the development of Scottish theatre...’

Since then Graham has directed and designed the majority of Babel’s productions, and has toured them extensively both at home and abroad.  He has a knack of pulling together great talent in his projects.  Accomplished playwrights such as Liz Lochhead and Tom McGrath, and excellent designers such as Kai Fischer are often credited in Graham’s work.

Graham on classical theatre

Theatre babel’s repertoire of reinvigorated classical theatre has never been doubted by Graham.  Referring to Thebans, he has made clear his respect for the classical: 'Show me a playwright who's ever written something as great as Oedipus [Rex].' 'Euripides says just about everything there is to say about human nature, about how we live spiritually, mentally, emotionally and sexually in 75 minutes. No modern playwright could do that.'

Graham appreciates a need to move with and guide the times.  'There are people who want to keep the tradition of ancient Greek plays, but that doesn't work. The society of audiences has changed. The language has to become like the way you and I would say it,'  And in an era where the visual has surpassed the word, Graham asks, 'why can't we have both? To be appealing, a piece of work must excite me spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and sexually.'

Other work

Along with Ian Grieve, Graham was appointed Creative Director of Horsecross at Perth Theatre in March 2005.  Directing and designing outwith Babel, Graham's work includes Blood and Ice for the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh in 2003. 

Graham McLaren with Peter D'Souza; Photo: Courtesy New Century PR

He has also been involved in participatory work, for example contributing to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama as a guest director.

Classical theatre
* Theme - Classical theatre
* Focus on - theatre babel
Related links
* theatre babel
* Horsecross at Perth theatre
* Royal Lyceum Theatre Company
* Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama
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