When Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange first landed on film screens in the early 1970s, it was wrought with controversy.
Its visceral, violent scenes challenged the boundaries of modern cinema.
Kubrick opted to pull the film from circulation a few years after its release in the UK – its original novel by Anthony Burgess also received several banning attempts from the early 60s onwards.
But one new Aberdeen theatre company is unfazed about taking on the notorious work for their very first production.
Taylormade Productions, run by director Bruce Taylor, will be bringing A Clockwork Orange to Aberdeen Arts Centre from Thursday June 30 to Saturday July 2.
Originally scheduled to take place in 2020 then again in February this year, the pandemic has forced the company to wait a long time to perform.
But now that the time has finally come, Bruce cannot wait to reveal what the show has in store for Aberdeen audiences.
Something different for Aberdeen
“I think (A Clockwork Orange) is something different for Aberdeen,” Bruce enthuses.
“I can’t recall a play ever being played here of it before, but I know it has a good following.
“It of course has a notorious reputation, but what we’ve tried to do is keep the content exceptionally relevant – if anything, it’s more relevant now than it was back then.
“We’ve naturally had to adapt things, particularly the way in which women were addressed in it, which wasn’t great.
“I’m hoping it will go down well.”
Born in Aberdeen and raised in Stonehaven, Bruce has been a notable figure in the north-east’s amateur theatre circuit in recent years.
He studied acting at Aberdeen College before moving into directing with Studio Group in Aberdeen and later setting up Taylormade Productions.
Compared to other cities in Scotland, Bruce feels that Aberdeen’s theatre community is bubbling with talent.
“I think in Aberdeen, we’ve got one of the brightest amateur theatre communities in Scotland,” says Bruce.
“There’s so many musical theatre companies and drama companies and the concentration of it all is something that you might not see in the likes of Glasgow’s city centre, for example.
“There’s a lot of opportunity here, particularly coming out of lockdown. I think it’s very vibrant.”
With A Clockwork Orange being a popular title both in film and book, Bruce feels that one of the biggest obstacles the production will face will be the audience’s own preconceptions of the original story.
Audiences can expect a few original elements to take centre stage in Taylormade Productions’ performance of A Clockwork Orange.
The company’s cast is diverse both in age and experience and Bruce feels that this will also add to the energy of the performance.
“We’ve taken in quite a lot of young cast members, especially guys with this being a predominantly male cast, which has been great,” says Bruce.
“Everyone’s melding together and sharing their experiences and it’s great to see so many new faces.
“We’re going to be running the play with one act and no interval.
“The language is there, as well as the young, violent, crazy and frenetic energy that characterises the original, which lends itself so well to physical theatre.
“There’ll be a lot of movement going on with some dance elements brought into it. We’ve had a lot of jokes about how we’re doing certain bits that aren’t quite in the script!
“There’s also some gender-swapping in the roles, which have helped to address the gender balance and update it a little into this day and age.
“I feel like we’re re-enhancing things in a lot of ways.”
Making an impression
A mixture of nervousness and excitement is how Bruce says he feels as the show opens for its first performance at Aberdeen Arts Centre.
With the play being over two years in the making, Bruce hopes it will leave a lasting impression on audiences.
“I think that our production of A Clockwork Orange is going to grip people, make them laugh, probably make them quite uncomfortable at times and also pose a lot of really big questions,” he explains.
“I want to make quite a strong statement with our first production and I feel that A Clockwork Orange has a strong base to do this with alongside the scope for putting our own twist on things.
“It will be something that people may not necessarily expect.
“It’s definitely at its best in every regard, and now we just want to get out there and do it!”