Attention! Gary Tank Commander goes back to school

When Greg McHugh was a school boy at St Thomas Aquinas in Edinburgh, he decied to take Drama as one of his Highers. What he had not expected was that his teacher would make the class join in the Class Act programme at Edinburgh's Traverse Theatre, through which pupils came into contact with working theatre professionals.

In Greg's case, the professional they got was a certain David Harrower, now one of Scotland's top three playwrights. The class was required to see Harrower's play Knives in Hens, at the Traverse, a play which has been in production around the world almost ever since. Harrower came to help them with the pieces they were creating for their exam.

As Greg says now, it was what turned him on to writing for the theatre and, in the long term, led to the creation of the permatanned, self-obsessed tank commander from Dalgety Bay in Fife, Gary McLintock.

And while Greg went on to a Business Studies degree at Stirling University before eventually going to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, he says he spent the whole of his time at University "writing, just writing and writing".

And it was that formative experience that has led him to become the poster boy for Class Act as it celebrates its coming of age this week with a series of special peformances at the Tron in Glasgow and the Traverse this week culminating in a special gala night hosted by Greg - or will it be Gary? - on Saturday night in Edinburgh.

"Do they want me to do the whole thing as Gary", he wonders, alarmed by the prospect. Recently he was invited to be a guest of honour at a real soldier's wedding and did a 29 minute stand-up routine. But even there he eventually came out of character.

"People eventually want to know who they're speaking to" he explained. And that's why its Greg, as much as Gary who will be celebrating 21 years of Class Act.

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