|The director of a Fringe play has turned one of its famous characters into a cocaine addict because Scotland's smoking ban prevents him lighting up on stage. Ben Waring, director of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, said the play had to be 'modernised' because smoking was a key characteristic of one of its lead roles.|
Critics of Scotland's smoking ban have said it is suppressing artistic freedom and spoiling some productions in which smoking is an integral part.
In Waring's version of the Tom Stoppard play, one of the main characters, Rosencrantz, will now be snorting the Class A drug to explain his erratic behaviour, previously put down to his persistent habit of smoking cannabis.
The move comes after a series of high-profile actors and directors have threatened to ignore the ban on smoking in public places. Last week, council officials threatened to shut down the Assembly Rooms if actor Mel Smith, playing Winston Churchill in Allegiance, lit up one of his character's famous cigars on stage.
Smith, who is a cigar-smoker off-stage, criticised the law saying: 'It would have delighted Adolf Hitler. Congratulations, Scotland.'
Waring, whose production is being staged at C Venues, said it was disappointing that the original version had to be changed. He said: 'The scene is a speech which contemplates what death would be like. Rosencrantz rambles on about this as his mind wanders and Guildenstern has to keep stopping him.
'For this performance we modernised the play, just as Hamlet has been modified many times. We basically thought that Rosencrantz's behaviour was very much like the behaviour of a stoner, so when we performed the play in England we had Rosencrantz smoking a joint.'
For the Edinburgh Fringe performance, it has been turned into a 'coke-addled rant'.
Waring said that, although it was a small part of the play, it was disappointing that it had to be changed. 'It is the loss of liberty that is the most disappointing part.' He has, however, inserted a joke into the play about the ban.
Rosencrantz attempts to roll a joint, but is told by Guildenstern that smoking is banned. Rosencrantz's response is to throw down the joint he has just rolled in disgust.
He picks up his powder box and delivers the same speech as a cocaine-induced rant.
The independent MSP Brian Monteith has said the ban was making Scotland the laughing stock of the artistic community.
He said: 'The purpose of the smoking ban, particularly as it affects stage plays, is not based on any measurable health risk but it seeks to de-normalise and ostracise smokers. 'All this does is make Scotland less free than North Korea or Cuba, and it makes us the laughing stock of the artistic community.'
Last week, Edinburgh City Council warned the Assembly Rooms that it faced fines of up to £5,000 and could lose its entertainment licence if Mel Smith puffed on one of his Churchillian cigars while on stage.