Glasgow: The City of Culture

Glasgow was not named the European City of Culture in 1990 for nothing. It is a tremendously lively and diverse city, making it such a great place both to live and find inspiration. In reflection of this, its arts and culture scene is equally as vibrant, innovative and exciting. It is home to countless theatre companies and artists who share their creations with the city. Displayed in a range of breathtaking theatres and experimental performance spaces, as well as jaw-droppingly beautiful galleries, the locations themselves become a part of the experience. Here is a snapshot of some possible places to explore and what they will be presenting this coming semester.

One of my personal favourites is the Citizens Theatre, which you can get to easily by the Bridge Street subway station. It is home to a total of three performance spaces, with one large theatre and two smaller ones, allowing it to host a variety of stage events. At the start of September a visiting theatre company will delve into transgender and non-binary experiences through two complementary performances. Adam is based on the true story of a fleeing young trans man, whilst Eve is focused on the story of a child raised as a boy that feels all along that this is wrong. Later in the year, the satire of Faithful Ruslan shows us the world of the Stalinist regime through the eyes of a dog, whilst The Macbeths cuts down radically on the original text to fixate on the relationship between Shakespeare and his wife which is seen to be at the heart of the famous play.

Tron is yet another space in Glasgow which gives a home to innovative performance. This semester it will dish up a huge number of plays, meaning that each only runs for a short time – so keep a sharp eye on their programme to make sure you don’t miss the ones you want to see! Here are a few to whet your appetite: Striptease/Out at Sea is a politically charged play in the of Theatre of the Absurd style and is said to ‘embody European drama of the 1950s’; Fringe First winner Katie Bolan presents a comedy in the form of a Ted talk on the science of lying; on a more traditional note, the famous Russian novel the Karamazov Brothers will be dramatized to tackle some of its philosophical debates; and four styles of poetry slam will be pitched against each other in an exciting battle.

The Kings Theatre is known for its musicals. Staying true to its colours, it will host several classic hits as well as a selection of newer productions. So if you just can’t get enough of the fantastic musicals that are classics for a reason, watch out for Hairspray and the Addams Family. To get into the Christmas spirit, A Christmas Carol and Elf will be performed in the Winter season. If you would rather see something new, The Stick Man, Crazy for You, or That’ll be the Day, could be just the inspiration you are looking for.

Going to the opera may not be something you are yet experienced with, but Glasgow sees exceptional performances by the Royal Opera which are an adventure all students should make. It wouldn’t surprise me if going to one show will have you yearning for more! This semester the big production we are all looking forward to is La Traviata. Set in the period style of 1880s Paris and dramatizing a doomed love affair, it is bound to be a feast for your eyes as well as your soul.

Similarly, going to the ballet is often a new experience for many students when first watching the Scottish Ballet perform in Glasgow. Yet once again it is bound to inspire: the athleticism, choreography, and sheer beauty of its dance is truly touching. This semester’s performance of Stravinsky is set to live scores and explores the intensely contrasting plays of The Fairy’s Kiss and The Rite of Spring. Later on, The Nutcracker is bound to deepen your enjoyment of the Winter atmosphere.

This city truly is thriving with artists and has been for centuries, which is evidenced by the countless art galleries throughout the city. Some of the most renowned you will probably already have heard of. The Kelvingrove Art Gallery is an unmistakable part of the skyline, but not only its exterior is worth admiring. Its permanent exhibition is remarkable and showcases work from Rembrandt, Monet, the Glasgow Boys, and many others. Similarly, the Hunterian Art Gallery on our university campus is a tourist’s highlight. The fact we walk past it every day on our way to the library should mean that we treasure it all the more, using the opportunity to keep going back and delving deeper into its art.

Yet another famous museum is The Lighthouse in city centre, which is known not just for its exhibitions but also the awe-inspiring panoramic view from the top. The Lighthouse is Scotland’s Centre for Design and Architecture, and as such hosts a constantly changing and exciting line of exhibitions and events. This semester it might be worth your while to look at Lines of Thought, celebrating work by renowned architect Alexander “Greek” Thomson, or to pop in to admire the work of the resident Sonica artist in the exhibit called Chozumaki.

The Centre for Contemporary Arts (colloquially known as the CCA) is a student favourite. It hosts six major exhibitions a year, as well as being home to Intermedia Gallery, which curates numerous emerging artists throughout the year. There are still many great shows to come this semester. For example David Roeder will be using intermedia techniques to explore different mechanisms we use to deal with the fear that lurks in the everyday. Furthermore Mumbai-based artist Sahej Rahal imagines the destruction of the world as we know it in Barricadia.

The galleries mentioned above are all easily found by a quick Google search on what to do in Glasgow. However, the city has so much more to offer. Whilst there are some bigger galleries like Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) not discussed so far, there are also countless small jems that the city has stashed away. Some of my favourites include Streetlevel Photoworks, Hidden Lane Gallery, and Tramway. But I can only say that there are so many more out there to be found, and as cliché as it might seem, the journey is indeed the reward!

These are but a glimpse into the many treasures, in both arts and culture, that Glasgow has to offer. My best advice is: don’t be intimidated to go somewhere new. Glasgow is a friendly, welcoming city and the artists seek to share their work. Go out, explore, learn, get inspired, and most importantly, enjoy!

[Kirsty Campbell]

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