30 years ago today

Posted on 13 Apr 2018 in News

On 13 April 1988, legendary theatre director Peter Brook staged his epic nine hour play The Mahabharata at the Old Transport Museum, Glasgow.

The building – which is now our home, Tramway -  began life in 1893 as the Coplawhill tram shed, served as the city’s main tram terminus, depot and factory until 1962 and was the Museum of Transport from 1964 until 1986. 

Consequently, the vacant building faced demolition until ambitious plans were developed during the late 1980s in preparation for Glasgow’s year as City of Culture 1990.
It caught the eye of Brook when he was invited to scout for locations in the city and decided that the building would be perfect for him to stage the work.

The unrivalled scale of the former tram depot, and the flexibility offered by its industrial architecture, meant that the building was uniquely placed to house such a momentous production.

It was only venue in the UK that year where the work was staged.

The original stage play was performed at the 39th Avignon festival, on July 7, 1985 and toured the world for four years.   

“The Mahabharata'' is the longest single poem in world literature. Consisting of 18 volumes and 90,000 couplets, it is a compilation of the myths, legends, wars, folklore, ethics, history and theology of ancestral India.”

Brook’s theatrical adaptation was presented in a cycle of three plays (''The Game of Dice,'' ''The Exile in the Forest'' and ''The War'').

Following the hugely successful staging of 'The Mahabharata,’ Tramway began to build an international reputation as a space for experimental, cutting edge contemporary art.
30 years on from The Mahabharata, Tramway’s latest programme presents an exciting range of contemporary visual art and performance from acclaimed and emerging artists this spring and summer.