Andrew Quinn

Deputy Editor-in-Chief

London-based actors Scott Mackie and Santino Smith bring their newest play to Glasgow.

PACE Youth Theatre graduates and West of Scotland natives Scott Mackie and Santino Smith are bringing their new play After(s) to the Old Hairdresser’s for two dates in February. From 3 February to 8 February, the production will run at the White Bear Theatre, London.

Scott, from Bridge of Weir, says the play is about “two childhood friends. One who has stayed in Paisley, works in the same Spoons (The Last Post) that he worked at when he was 16, still lives at home, just goes out drinking all the time. The other friend has moved to London, works in finance, has his girlfriend that he’s going to propose to, has his flat, is becoming an adult, in the conventional sense. The play begins with them bumping into each other for the first time since they were teenagers.”

“It’s a comedy farce with lots of very silly humour. It’s become about all the things that are on our minds as young people today, like identity and sexuality and moving away from home and losing touch with your friends, framed around an afterparty that lasts two days.”

The play very much comes from their own experiences. Scott and Santino met at Paisley’s prolific PACE Youth Theatre as teenagers. The group has had much success, with six of its former students performing in Peter Gynt at the National Theatre last year. Famous alumni include James McAvoy, Richard Madden and Paolo Nutini.

Despite being close friends now, the boys didn’t always see eye-to-eye. Santino, from Shawlands, says, “Initially me and Scott didn’t like each other. We saw it as a battle of alpha males.”

However, after writing together for a show at PACE, they got on really well. They wrote their first play, The Unemployed Actors Union, while still at the youth theatre. It debuted as a fundraiser for drama school, with Santino studying at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and Scott learning his trade at Guildhall School of Music and Drama. In February 2018, they took The Unemployed Actors Union to London, where both actors are based.

Scott, 23, and Santino, 25, have used their own struggles of moving to the Big Smoke as inspiration for the play. Santino explains: “Everyone assumes that when you move to London that you’ve made it. I struggle as there’s less individuality in London than in Glasgow. People are awed by the big lights and the big city, but I don’t feel that at all any more. I feel like you have to big up more what London is like or what you’re up to.”

Santino and Scott are joined onstage by actors Lucy Heath and Laura Singleton. Tickets sold out for the Glasgow dates less than 48 hours after they opened. The final London show on 8 February has also sold out.

Fortunately, there are plans to take the play to Scotland again soon: “We’re trying to get a spring run in London and then a fringe show,” says Santino. “Hopefully we’ll have longer runs in both London and Glasgow later this year.” added Scott.

 Scott and Santino want to change how young people are presented in their field. Scott explains: “So often in theatre, with younger characters, it’s so clear that an old man has written them. It’s an older person’s view of what young people are, and often it’s very judgemental. We are writing from the position of being in it.”

Santino believes that the production is perfect for young adults, who are often apathetic towards theatre: “It’s a play written by young people, about young people, for young people. It’s called After(s). Everyone’s been to an afters where they’ve stayed too long, the sun’s started to rise and they’ve got the fear. It’s an ideal play for students. It’s so relatable. It’s not three and a half hours long. It’s in a pub. It’ll be a good time.”

 Scott wryly concludes: “This will make you want to go out after it.”

After(s) performs at the White Bear Theatre, London from 3-8 February and the Old Hairdresser’s, Glasgow on 12 and 13 February.

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