THE shy teenager who walked into the Citizens Theatre six years ago is nothing like the relaxed, confident actor posing for pictures outside the Gorbals venue on a sunny summer afternoon.

Adam Kashmiry says his spell in community theatre at the Citz, not long after he had arrived in Glasgow from Egypt, changed his life.

“I went in a very lonely soul and came out hopeful, smiley and walking with a swagger,” he laughs.

Adam’s memories of the theatre have been captured in Citz Stories, a competition launched by the venue as it prepares for a massive, multi-million pound redevelopment.

Bosses invited everyone who had ever worked in, performed at or visited the Citizens to share their memories and the resulting tales could rival anything seen on stage.

Funny, fascinating and moving, the short stories brilliantly capture the history and character not just of the venue, but of the city and its people.

There is much more to Adam’s story - he grew up as a girl in Egypt, escaping the country in fear of persecution. While he fought for asylum in the UK, he also began the process of gender reassignment, making his first two years in Glasgow a difficult and confusing time.

“I was lonely and had no friends,” he recalls.

“When I did the community theatre show, everything changed. The Citz was my safe place to go, where everyone was kind and respected me just for who I was.

“I met my wife, Toni, there for the first time. She is my light, my everything. The amazing people at the Citz make it what it is.

“Without the people it is just a beautiful building. It would have no soul, no charisma without them. They change lives.”

Adam’s story was picked up by theatre director Cora Bissett, who turned it into a National Theatre of Scotland play. Adam played himself, and the production is about to tour to London and New York.

“At the Citz, I did my first ever (small) performance, and four years later, one of my biggest,” he smiles.

“It took a lot for me to go to that first group because I was so shy. But then, something changed in my heart and I thought, okay, why not just give it a go?”

He smiles: “Acting is now my passion and I will never forget the Citizens, it changed my life.”

Adam’s story is one of seven chosen for the final shortlist in the Citz Stories contest.

The writers have all received Christmas show tickets and now all seven tales are open to a public vote, starting this week.

The winner will receive a coveted Timeless Token, entitling them and a plus one to attend every Citizens Theatre production at the theatre, for life.

You can read all seven stories on the website but this week and next in the Evening Times, we will be revealing a little bit more about the writers and their terrific tales.

Paul Climie has been visiting the Citizens since he was a young child, with his mum Linda.

“My grandparents were from the Gorbals and lived near the theatre, and my great-grandparents stayed above the Linen Bank, in the old tenement which is still standing across the road from the Citz,” he explains.

“My great-grandad, Peter Donnelly, was a dentist at Gorbals Cross.

“My grandad, Duncan Speirs, was a joiner who worked on Rutherglen Road, and he often worked in the theatre, constructing stage sets.”

Duncan’s wife, Catherine, used to regale her young grandson with all kinds of stories about the people she knew in and around the Gorbals.

“When I was a teenager I started writing it all down,” smiles Paul.

“My gran was full of stories about people in our family, going all the way back to the 1700s. It was fascinating. When I was older I looked into a lot of them and they were all true.”

He adds: “Visiting the Citz, I always think of my relatives who worked, lived and played here. It has always been a vital part of the local community and long may it continue.”

The funniest story to make it to the final seven is Iain Wilson’s memory of visiting the Citz in 1976, when he was in second year at Queen’s Park Secondary.

“Our English class was dragged kicking and screaming to the Citz for a production of Dracula by The Pip Simmons Theatre Company,” he recalls.

“I don’t know how aware the teaching staff were, as we trudged towards the theatre that night, of how much full frontal nudity our innocent eyes were about to be exposed to.

“But I do know that the following week’s production of The Dream Of A Ridiculous Man by the same company was a sell out - attended almost exclusively by Queen’s Park Secondary School pupils....”

Vote online for your favourite Citz Stories at

Read about the other three winners in next week’s Thanks for the Memories slot in the Evening Times and online at

Do you have memories of the Citz?

Share them by emailing or writing to Ann Fotheringham, Thanks for the Memories, Evening Times, 200 Renfield Street, Glasgow G2 3QB.