Category Archives: NEWS

NEWS: Bard in the Botanics 2022 Season programme announced

Bard in the Botanics has released details of the 2022 Season. Featuring four contrasting productions the popular Glasgow event will run from Friday 22 June – Saturday 30 July and see a welcome return to the Kibble Palace after two years which saw it unavailable due to Covid restrictions.

The 2022 season opens with a new production of the evergreen favourite, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (22 June – 9 July) directed by Jennifer Dick and starring Robert Elkin as Bottom. This will be Bard’s first mainstage production of the play in over a decade.

The opening show in the Kibble (23 June – 9 July) is the culmination of three years planning. Gordon Barr will direct a new version of Euripides’ Medea commissioned by Bard in the Botanics from playwright, Kathy McKean. It has been devised specifically for acclaimed actor Nicole Cooper and for performance in the Kibble Palace. This will be the Bard in the Botanics first foray into Greek tragedy.

The second half of the season (14 – 30 July) sees Cooper make her directorial debut with a new production of The Tempest staged in the Kibble Palace and featuring Alan Steele as Prospero. The line-up for the 2022 season is completed with a new production of Gordon Barr’s ground-breaking take on Much Ado About Nothing. Bertram and Benedick return to the mainstage as the gay couple at the heart of this, the original rom-com with a twist with Robert Elkin once again in the role of Bertram.

“We are delighted to be returning to The Kibble Palace for this year’s season with productions that showcase the dramatic talent of one of Bard’s long-time core artists, Nicole Cooper ” says Bard in the Botanics’ Artistic Director, Gordon Barr.

“We have been planning our first foray into Greek tragedy for three years and it is exciting to see this idea now coming to fruition. Working with Kathy McKean, whose version of Medea has been conceived not only for the Kibble, but especially for Nicole, is a tremendous pleasure.”

“Nicole will also make her directorial debut with Bard this year, creating a new version of Shakespeare’s final play, The Tempest. She has adapted the play using the unique backdrop of the historic glasshouse and tapping in to the emotions felt by so many people now as they experience the disintegration caused by dementia.”

“For our mainstage shows comedy will be to the fore this year,” he adds. “It is over a decade since we presented a mainstage version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, so the time was absolutely right to return to this ever popular play in a new version directed by Jennifer Dick. In the second half of the season we will revisit our particular take on Much Ado About Nothing bringing Bertram and Benedick back to the stage in a brand new production.”

Tickets for Bard in the Botanics Antic Fables & Fairy Toys season go on sale soon and will be available via www.bardinthebotanics.co.uk

Listings

 

24 June – 9 July 2022 at 7.45pm (no performances Sundays/Mondays)

Previews: 22 and 23 June at 7.45pm

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

Directed by Jennifer Dick

Mainstage: Botanic Gardens, Great Western Road, Glasgow, G12

 

Bard in the Botanics presents its first new mainstage production of Shakespeare’s evergreen classic in over a decade. A celebration of our freedom of expression – the right to love who we want, create what we want and be what we want – this new version features Robert Elkin as Bottom.

 

Tickets 

£25, £17 (Disabled / Student / Unemployed), £12 (Under 18s and Equity / BECTU members)

Previews and Discount Tuesday: all tickets £17

www.bardinthebotanics.co.uk

24 June – 9 July at 8pm (no performances Sundays/Mondays)

Preview 23 June at 8pm

MEDEA

By Euripides in a version by Kathy McKean

Directed by Gordon Barr

The Kibble Palace: Botanic Gardens, Great Western Road, Glasgow, G12

 

Erased from the narrative – abandoned by her husband, Jason, for a new wife and a new life – left isolated and alone in a city where she does not and cannot belong – Medea begins to plot revenge – a terrible, bloody revenge that will send a howl of rage echoing through the ages. Three years in the planning this specially commissioned version of Euripides’ classic by Kathy McKean, stars award-winning actor, Nicole Cooper, in the title role.

Tickets

£25, £17 (Disabled / Student / Unemployed), £12 (Equity / BECTU members)

Previews and Discount Tuesday: all tickets £17

www.bardinthebotanics.co.uk

15 – 30 July at 7.45pm (no performances Sundays/Mondays)

Preview 14 July at 7.45pm

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

Directed by Gordon Barr

 

Mainstage: Botanic Gardens, Great Western Road, Glasgow, G12

Bertram and Benedick return to the mainstage as the gay couple at the heart of this, the original rom-com with a twist in a brand new production of Bard in the Botanics’ ground-breaking take on Much Ado About Nothing . Robert Elkin once again plays the role of Bertram.

Tickets

£25, £17 (Disabled / Student / Unemployed), £12 (Under 18s and Equity / BECTU members)

Previews and Discount Tuesday: all tickets £17

www.bardinthebotanics.co.uk

15 – 30 July at 8pm (no performances Sundays/Mondays)

Preview 14 July at 8pm

THE TEMPEST

Adapted & directed by Nicole Cooper

The Kibble Palace: Botanic Gardens, Great Western Road, Glasgow, G12

 

On an enchanted island, a mighty magician raises a terrible storm and plots revenge on those who have wronged him. In a solitary glasshouse, a daughter must learn to say goodbye to the father she has known and loved as a terrible illness takes hold of him. Acclaimed actor, Nicole Cooper, makes her Bard in the Botanics’ directorial debut with this new production of Shakespeare’s last play featuring Alan Steele as Prospero.

Tickets

£25, £17 (Disabled / Student / Unemployed), £12 (Equity / BECTU members)

Previews and Discount Tuesday: all tickets £17

www.bardinthebotanics.co.uk

NEWS: SCOTTISH OPERA ANNOUNCES ITS 2022/23 60TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON

Scottish Opera has unveiled its 2022/23 Season which includes four new mainstage productions, with one of the four an outdoor community opera, a revival of Don Giovanni, the world premiere of a Scottish Opera Young Company production, two Operas in Concert productions, two Opera Highlights tours, a Pop-up Opera tour, and the return of the hit ‘opera for babies’, BambinO. The Company travels to over 60 locations across the length and breadth of Scotland, demonstrating its commitment to bringing opera to as many communities as possible.

A truly international line-up of singers appears throughout the Season. Making their debuts with the Company are Zachary Altman, Viktor Antipenko, Pablo Bemsch, Francesca ChiejinaJulian Close, Lauren Fagan, Samantha Hankey, Andrew Henley, Emyr Wyn Jones, Julieth Lozano, Christopher Nairne, Paula Sides, Holly Teague, Alfredo Tejada and Shakira Tsindos.

There are welcome return visits from Susan Bullock, Osian Wyn Bowen, Karen Cargill, Sioned Gwen Davies, Zoe Drummond, Máire Flavin, Justina Gringyte, Aled Hall, Charlotte Hoather, Jessica Leary, Hye-Youn Lee, Jamie MacDougall, Jonathan McGovern, Andrew McTaggart, William Morgan, Colin Murray, Samuel Pantcheff, Sarah Power, Annie Reilly, Shengzhi Ren, Phillip Rhodes, Ronald Samm, John Savournin, Shuna Scott Sendall, Lea Shaw, Dan Shelvey, Richard Suart, Elgan Llŷr Thomas, Sinéad Campbell-Wallace, Keel Watson, Kitty WhatelyLouise WinterRoland Wood and Dingle Yandell.

Stuart Stratford, Scottish Opera Music Director said: ‘I’m so pleased to have the opportunity to unearth several operatic treasures with audiences across Scotland in our 60th Anniversary Season. Each production has such a rich aesthetic. They are all so vividly different, both visually and musically. There is much for audiences to look forward to, from the somewhat berserk promenade production of Bernstein’s Candide, to the beauty of Puccini’s triptych Il trittico, and the physical, theatrical opera-meets-flamenco of Ainadamar in what will be a directorial debut for the world-renowned choreographer Deborah Colker. This is a must-see for all fans of dance, theatre, music and of course opera. I am really excited by the many wonderful singers joining us this Season, from fresh new talent, including current and former Scottish Opera Emerging Artists, to well-known names.’

Alex Reedijk, Scottish Opera General Director said: ‘We are truly delighted to be able to launch our 2022/23 60th Anniversary Season, our first Season announcement since 2019.  We are incredibly proud of our work throughout the pandemic, so much so that we have decided to continue our open-air productions with both a large-scale community opera in Glasgow and our intimate Pop-up Opera that tours throughout Scotland.

‘Partnerships are so crucial to the Company, and we’re thrilled to develop a new relationship with Maryhill Integration Network, an organisation bringing migrants, asylum seekers, and settled inhabitants of Glasgow together through art. We’ll be collaborating again with Opera Ventures after past successes with Missy Mazzoli’s Breaking the Waves and Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Greek. And we are delighted to return to the Lammermuir Festival with a hidden gem – Massenet’s Thérèse. We continue our mission to ensure communities right across Scotland can experience live opera on their doorsteps, with performances in over 60 locations in our 60th Anniversary Season. We are also launching a new series of Access Opera to help those who have difficulty attending general performances. These offer a stress-free environment, without the worry of crowded spaces or the need to be silent. We hope that the popular and wide-ranging repertoire available this Season offers something for everyone, and encourages those who haven’t yet experienced the thrill of live opera.’

Productions:

Don Giovanni

A revival of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, its first since the 2013 premiere, opened on 15 May at Theatre Royal Glasgow. Directed by renowned baritone and newly appointed Scottish Opera President Sir Thomas Allen, this dark and atmospheric production tours to Inverness, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, with a special performance on 5 June in Edinburgh to mark Scottish Opera’s 60th Birthday.

 

Scottish Opera Music Director Stuart Stratford (15 May – 25 June) and Head of Music Derek Clark (16 -18 June) conduct an exciting cast that includes Roland Wood (Falstaff 2021) and Jonathan McGovern (A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2022), sharing the role of the titular anti-hero. They are joined by Hye-Youn Lee (Nixon in China 2020), Kitty Whately (Hansel and Gretel On Screen 2021), Keel Watson and Scottish Opera Emerging Artist Lea Shaw (A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2022). Set in the backstreets of 17th century Venice, designs are by Simon Higlett, who worked with Sir Thomas on his much-loved 2019 production of The Magic Flute.

 

Don Giovanni is supported by The Scottish Opera Syndicate.

Candide

This August, a second year of Live at No. 40 takes place in Glasgow with a new outdoor promenade production of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide. There will be six performances of this vibrant and contemporary take on Bernstein’s satirical opera held under a purpose-built marquee tent at Scottish Opera’s Production Studios. The Citizens Theatre, who performed at last year’s Live at No.40, will also present a production with more details to be announced soon.

 

Candide, written by Bernstein before he composed his hit musical West Side Story and based on the novel by Voltaire, follows larger-than-life characters in chaotic adventures across Europe and South America. Full of imagination and comedy, the production is updated for the specific challenges of capitalism and globalism in today’s world, celebrating all of life’s beautiful, messy stories along the way.

 

Directed by Jack Furness (Opera Highlights 2018) and designed by Tim Meacock (Pagliacci 2018), William Morgan (The Gondoliers 2022) plays the idealist Candide, with Paula Sides as his beloved Cunegonde. They are joined by an ensemble cast that includes Ronald Samm (Pagliacci 2018), Susan Bullock (Breaking the Waves 2019), Jamie MacDougall (A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2022), Dan Shelvey (The Gondoliers 2022) and Scottish Opera Emerging Artist Lea Shaw (A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2022). Stuart Stratford conducts The Orchestra of Scottish Opera and an 80-strong community chorus, in partnership with Maryhill Integration Network, an organisation bringing migrants, asylum seekers and settled inhabitants of Glasgow together through art.

 

Candide is supported by Friends of Scottish Opera, Scottish Opera’s Education Angels, and The Scottish Opera Endowment Trust.

 

Ainadamar (The Fountain of Tears)

This October, the Scottish premiere and first fully-staged UK production of Ainadamar (the Spanish pronunciation of the Arabic name ‘Ayn al-dam’, meaning ‘The Fountain of Tears’) by Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov and acclaimed American librettist David Henry Hwang, takes place at Theatre Royal Glasgow, before transferring to Festival Theatre Edinburgh.

 

Exploring the life and work of playwright and poet Federico García Lorca, Ainadamar premiered in 2003 in Tanglewood and is Golijov’s first opera, combining opera with flamenco dance and song. This new co-production with Opera Ventures (Breaking the Waves 2019 and Greek 2017), Detroit Opera, The Metropolitan Opera and Welsh National Opera, is directed by Olivier Award-winning choreographer and director Deborah Colker and designed by Jon Bausor. Known for her intensely physical dance work with Cirque du Soleil and the 2016 Olympics Opening Ceremony, as well as her own Companhia de Dança, Deborah is making her much-anticipated opera directorial debut.

 

Stuart Stratford conducts the internationally celebrated mezzo-soprano Samantha Hankey in the role of Lorca, whose anti-fascist stance and open homosexuality led to his death in 1936 at the hands of Franco’s Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War. The story, which reimagines the political drama of the early 20th century, centres around Lorca, his muse Margarita Xirgu, sung by Lauren Fagan, and her student Nuria, sung by Julieth Lozano.

Ainadamar is supported by Scottish Opera’s New Commissions Circle and Sarah and Howard Solomon Foundation.

 

Il trittico: Il tabarro, Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi  

Following the success of his 2021 Falstaff production, Sir David McVicar returns to Scottish Opera in March 2023 with a new staging of Il trittico. This is the first time Sir David has directed Puccini’s epic triptych, and the first time Scottish Opera has staged it.

 

A new co-production with Welsh National Opera, with set designs by Charles Edwards, the trio of glorious one-act operas about love and loss will tour to Theatre Royal Glasgow and Festival Theatre Edinburgh. Il tabarro (The Cloak) sees a wife trapped in a marriage she longs to escape, Suor Angelica (Sister Angelica) tells the story of an outsider forced in to a life for which she has no vocation, and Gianni Schicchi focuses on a dysfunctional family caught in the snare of a shameless conman.

 

Scottish Opera Music Director Stuart Stratford conducts Roland Wood (Falstaff 2021), Sinéad Campbell-Wallace (The Puccini Collection 2021), Viktor Antipenko, Julian Close, Aled Hall (Falstaff 2021), Francesca Chiejina, Louise Winter (Falstaff 2021), Máire Flavin (Opera Highlights 2018) and internationally-acclaimed Scottish mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill (Bluebeard’s Castle 2017). They are joined by former Scottish Opera Emerging Artists Elgan Llŷr Thomas (A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2022) and Sioned Gwen Davies (The Gondoliers 2022).

 

Puccini’s scores, including the favourite ‘O mio babbino caro’ in Gianni Schicchi, each boast their own vivid sound world yet fit together into a satisfying whole. With Il trittico’s earlier start, and a long second interval for dinner and drinks, audiences can expect a truly memorable theatrical experience and the chance to hear all three operas in one night as Puccini intended.

 

The production is supported by Dunard FundThe Alexander Gibson Circle, Scottish Opera’s ‘Play a Supporting Role’ Appeal, and The Scottish Opera Endowment Trust.

 

Carmen

Following his much-lauded production of Nixon in China in 2020, John Fulljames returns to Scottish Opera in May 2023 to direct Georges Bizet’s Carmen, concluding the Company’s 60th Season. This bold new production is sung in English with set and prop design by Sarah Beaton and costumes by Christina Cunningham. Taking place in 1970s Spain amidst the unrest and upheaval of that time, the investigation into Carmen’s murder runs alongside the systems that led to her death.

 

Justina Gringyte (Edgar 2018) sings the title role in this classic opera of jealousy, lust, and an outsider struggling to carve out a life by her own rules in a militaristic and patriarchal society. Also in the cast are Hye-Youn Lee (Nixon in China 2020) and Phillip Rhodes (Falstaff 2021), along with four of Scottish Opera’s Emerging Artists Zoe DrummondLea ShawOsian Wyn Bowen and Colin Murray.

 

Audiences can enjoy such hits as the Habanera, Flower Aria and Toreador Song, alongside Bizet’s magnificent orchestral interludes and spectacular chorus numbers. Conducted by Dane Lam (La Traviata 2017), Carmen tours to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness, and Aberdeen.

 

Carmen is supported by The Scottish Opera Syndicate.

 

Opera in Concert: Thérèse & The Verdi Collection

In September 2022, Scottish Opera returns to Lammermuir Festival in East Lothian with Jules Massenet’s Thérèse, at St Mary’s Church in Haddington. This heart-wrenching work of French Romanticism then travels to Perth Concert Hall.

 

These concert performances of Thérèse, with Justina Gringyte (Edgar 2018) in the title role, are directed by Roxana Haines and conducted by Anu Tali, making her Scottish Opera debut. Also in the cast are Shengzhi Ren (Opera Highlights 2022), Dingle Yandell (A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2022), Dan Shelvey (The Gondoliers 2022) and Emerging Artist Colin Murray.

 

Telling the story of a woman who finds herself at a crossroad, caught between her husband, a revolutionary representative, and her former lover, who is a deposed nobleman and her husband’s close friend, Massenet’s sumptuous opera sits against the backdrop of the French Revolution and Robespierre’s infamous Reign of Terror.

 

Touring to Aberdeen, Inverness, Glasgow and Edinburgh in November and February, is The Verdi Collection. These concerts, conducted by Stuart Stratford with The Orchestra of Scottish Opera, will feature the romance of La traviata, the intrigue of Un ballo in maschera, the passion of La forza del destino, the domestic tragedy of Otello, and Don Carlo.

 

Thérèse and The Verdi Collection are supported by Friends of Scottish Opera and The Scottish Opera Endowment Trust.

 

Emerging Artists

The Company is thrilled to once again offer a group of young artists a period of full-time work at the beginning of their careers. The Emerging Artists have opportunities to perform with Scottish Opera in live productions throughout the year, as well as work in-house with staff and visiting coaches to develop their skills. Our 2022/23 artists are soprano Zoe Drummond, mezzo-soprano Lea Shaw (returning for a second Season), tenor Osian Wyn Bowen, baritone Colin Murray and repetiteur Kristina Yorgova.

 

The Emerging Artists, supported by Scottish Opera’s Emerging Artist Benefactors and Elizabeth Salvesen, will perform in the Company’s productions as well as three recitals in University of St Andrews, University of Glasgow and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

 

Opera Highlights

There will be two tours of the much-loved Opera Highlights in Autumn this year and Spring 2023, when four talented singers and a pianist travel to local venues all over Scotland. Emma Jenkins (National Opera Studio’s Anarchy at the Opera 2022) directs Scottish Opera Emerging Artists Zoe Drummond and Osian Wyn Bowen, along with Shakira Tsindos, and Christopher Nairne in the Autumn, and Holly TeagueAnnie ReillyAndrew Henley and Emerging Artist Colin Murray in the Spring. Once again, the music is skilfully curated by Scottish Opera’s Head of Music Derek Clark, who combines operatic favourites with lesser-known gems. The Music Director/Pianist is Emerging Artist repetiteur Kristina Yorgova (Autumn tour), and Janis Hart returns as designer.

 

The Autumn Tour, from 22 September to 29 October visits Dundee, Markinch, Fraserburgh, Forres, Banchory, Cullivoe, Lerwick, Linlithgow, Town Yetholm, Stranraer, Castle Douglas, Dunlop, Gartmore, Biggar, Glenuig, Gairloch and Durness. Tickets are on sale this summer.

 

The Spring Tour, from 14 February to 25 March in 2023 visits East Kilbride, Crail, Garvald, Perth, Stonehaven, Boat of Garten, Invergarry, Wick, Kirkwall, Ullapool, Torridon, Isle of Skye, Oban, Campbeltown, Bowmore, Gretna, Hawick and Ayr. Tickets are on sale this winter.

 

Opera Highlights is supported by Friends of Scottish Opera.

 

Pre show talks, Accessible and Audio-described performances

The Company recently launched new afternoon Accessible shows to allow audience members the flexibility and freedom to relax and move about as required during performances. This Season there will be Accessible performances (supported by Scottish Opera’s Education Angels) of Don GiovanniGianni Schicchi and Carmen in Glasgow, Inverness, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

 

With Dementia Friendly values at their core, these shorter performances (under two hours including an interval) are open to all, whether you’re recovering from an operation, have breathing difficulties, are living with dementia, have a young baby or on the autism spectrum.

 

The Access performances, which include a presenter to help guide audiences through the story, are conducted by Head of Music Derek Clark, and performed by a cast of singers. Doors open 45 minutes before the start time so there’s no need to rush, brighter lighting levels than usual in the auditorium and there are television screens around the theatre if you’d prefer to watch in the lobby or sit in a quiet area.

 

Half-hour pre-show talks, delving into the detail of AinadamarIl trittico and Carmen are also available this season. Those who are visually impaired can take advantage of audio-described performances, where a live commentary is provided, describing the action on stage without compromising the music. As part of the experience a recorded introduction to the opera is provided in advance, and there is a free Touch Tour of the set and a live audio introduction before the start of the performance.

 

Education and Outreach

 

Pop-up Opera

This summer, audiences can look forward to three brilliant half-hour Pop-up Opera shows. Touring around Scotland in June and July are A Little Bit of Barber and A Little Bit of Figaro, two cleverly-rewritten versions of Rossini’s and Mozart’s classic comedies. Arranged by Scottish Opera’s Head of Music, Derek Clark, they follow the adventures of the mischievous barber Figaro.

 

Children aged four to eight can enjoy Be A Sport, Spike!, a Scottish Opera original composed by Karen MacIver with words by Ross Stenhouse, first commissioned for the 2018 European Championships Festival in Glasgow. It tells the story of Mike ‘The Spike’ McTavish, the greatest sportsman the world has ever seen. There’s no-one who can run faster, jump higher or swim further than mega-fit Spike. But there is one thing that Spike can’t do – sing! Audiences will join Spike and his friends as he starts to exercise those vocal chords, and finds out that a little perseverance can go a long way.

 

Each outdoor performance is brought to life by a series of colourful illustrations, storyteller Allan Dunn, sopranos Sarah Power and Jessica Leary, baritone Andrew McTaggart, cellist Andrew Drummond Huggan and guitarist Sasha Savaloni.

 

The tour kicks off on 3 June in Glamis, then travels to Dundee, Glasgow, Mugdock, Aberdeen, Ellon, Stonehaven, Inverness, Strathpeffer, Coatbridge, Greenock, North Bragar, Carradale, Rothesay, Dumfries, Musselburgh, Bearsden, Stirling, Perth and Edinburgh Park.

 

Pop-up Opera is supported by Friends of Scottish Opera.

 

BambinO

This August and September, audiences have the chance once again to see former Scottish Opera Composer in Residence Lliam Paterson’s five star ‘opera for babies’, BambinO, in East Kilbride, Perth, Inverness, Banchory, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Motherwell with more venues to be announced.

 

A co-production with Manchester International Festival and Improbable, director Lissa Lorenzo revives this delightful piece of music theatre for infants up to 12 months, originally directed by Phelim McDermott.  With stunning designs by Emma & Giuseppe BelliBambinO tells the story of a young bird leaving its nest for the first time. Charlotte Hoather and Samuel Pantcheff reprise the roles of Ulcellina and Pulcino, accompanied by cellist Andrew Drummond Huggan, and percussionist Darren Gallacher.  The musical director is Chris Gray.

 

Since it premiered in 2017, BambinO has toured around the world to great acclaim, including to New York and Paris, as well as Manchester International Festival, Edinburgh Fringe and Glasgow.

 

BambinO is supported by Scottish Opera’s Education Angels and New Commissions Circle.

 

Rubble

This July, Scottish Opera’s Elmbank Crescent premises hosts the world premiere of Rubble, a new piece from acclaimed composer Gareth Williams and Scottish theatre legend Johnny McKnight. Specially commissioned for Scottish Opera Education’s 50th Anniversary, members of Scottish Opera Young Company, who are aged 17 to 23, are joined by professional soprano Shuna Scott Sendall (The Tsar Has His Photograph Taken 2021), to tell this searingly honest, at times darkly comedic, story. Roxana Haines directs and Chris Gray, Scottish Opera Young Company Artistic Director, is the conductor.

 

Rubble follows a group of young people as they stand amongst the debris of Findenterran Farm, until recently a children’s home. As they pick through the shattered fragments of their childhood, they speak of what really went on in that largely ignored property on the outskirts of town. Rubble gives a voice to those who were ignored and overlooked by society while their youth was quietly stolen from them, and the cast and creative team have worked with ARTiculate Art Therapy to being this world safely to life.

 

This production is supported by Scottish Opera’s Education Angels, Scottish Opera’s New Commissions Circle and The Leverhulme Trust Arts Scholarship Grant.

 

Breath Cycle

The Company’s groundbreaking Breath Cycle returns for three more 10-week blocks in October, January and April. The free online project, designed to benefit those suffering from a range of conditions affecting lung health, in particular long Covid, was made with support from key NHS consultants.

 

Composer Gareth Williams and singers David DouglasJessica Leary and Daniela Hathaway lead the weekly sessions via Zoom, introducing participants to fun and stimulating songs, vocal exercises and breathing techniques in the comfort of their own home. The benefits of singing regularly are widely recognised, from improved lung function, posture and circulation to a strengthened immune system and core, better breath control and relief from stress and anxiety.

 

Participants can also sign up for song writing workshops with performance poet, Martin O’Connor, which run for eight weeks alongside each Breath Cycle block. These sessions are aimed at giving participants tools to get songs on paper and into the world. The songs will be arranged and recorded by Scottish Opera to create a free digital resource for individuals and singing groups worldwide as a positive musical legacy of the past two years. The Covid Composer’s Songbook will officially launch later this year, and a selection of songs composed during the song writing workshops are available to hear now on Scottish Opera’s website.

 

Breath Cycle is supported by Cruach TrustThe Murdoch Forrest Charitable TrustW M Mann FoundationSouter Charitable Trust, and Scottish Opera’s Education Angels.

 

Memory Spinners

Memory Spinners, a project designed to engage with people living with dementia through music and art, returns for more free sessions in Glasgow. First launched in 2012, these use music, storytelling, movement and the visual arts to help participants and their carers relax, get creative, and form new support networks. Over an eight-week period, rehearsals and visual arts activities build towards a short performance inspired by the music, characters and storyline of a popular piece from the operatic repertoire to which friends and families are invited.

 

The R S Macdonald Charitable TrustLife Changes TrustSylvia Aitken Charitable TrustBellahouston Bequest FundRKT Harris TrustJ Macdonald Menzies Charitable TrustTrades House of Glasgow (Commonwealth Fund), and Scottish Opera’s Education Angels supports Memory Spinners.

 

Sweet Sounds in Wild Places

On display this Season in the Borders, Edinburgh and Glasgow (venues to be announced on the Scottish Opera website) is original art from Sweet Sounds in Wild Places, a series of free workshops led by Scottish Opera to help build creative skills and increase self-confidence and self-expression, in partnership with The Abbotsford Trust and Live Borders!

 

During the sessions artists from the Company used music, creative writing, film and photography to empower those who have been struggling during lockdown. Forming part of the 250th anniversary celebrations of Sir Walter Scott, his novel The Bride of Lammermoor was used as inspiration to explore issues such as loneliness, isolation and lack of empowerment, as well as the impact, for good and bad, that landscape and environment can have on mental health and well-being.

 

Sweet Sounds in Wild Places is supported by The Cruden Foundation and Scottish Opera’s Education Angels.

 

School activity

This Season, The Last Aliens and The Curse of the MacCabbra Opera House are available to schools. Teachers can sign up to access online teaching resources to work through with their pupils, which includes audio and video teaching aids, as well as a series of practical tasks and exercises, or choose to work in person with our highly-trained artists.

 

The Last Aliens, a newly commissioned work from composer Alan Penman with lyrics by Ross Stenhouse, is an intergalactic adventure for primary 5 to 7 pupils. A funny and relevant story about saving Planet Earth, they learn five fantastic songs in their own classrooms, and then the Scottish Opera Teaching Artists team arrive at the school for a morning to teach movement and choreography to prepare for a 30-minute performance in front of fellow pupils, friends and family. In a normal year, close to 9,000 children across Scotland take part in these performances with many more thousands of friends and families coming to see them in action.

 

The Curse of the MacCabbra Opera House, on tour in 2023, is a 30-minute opera for primary 5 to 7. A chilling gothic tale with a good dose of comedy, The Curse of the MacCabbra Opera House features music from Alan Penman and lyrics from writer and director Johnny McKnight.

 

Scottish Opera has expanded its resources for school-aged children to reach secondary students. A series of special lessons for students are designed around Donizetti’s classic comedy, L’elisir d’amore, where they will learn about history, drama and storytelling. This includes several newly-written endings devised by the Company. More information will be available soon from the Scottish Opera website.

 

There is also The Water Rabbit, a brand new online resource for all Primary Confucius Classroom Hubs.

 

These projects are supported by Harbinson Charitable TrustDavid & June Gordon Memorial TrustHayward Sanderson Trust and Scottish Opera’s Education Angels.

 

Disney Musicals in Schools

Scottish Opera and Disney Musicals in Schools are once again collaborating to give primary schools in Scotland the opportunity to learn and produce their own Disney KIDS musical, which are shorter stage adaptions of classic Disney stories written expressly for primary school performers. The programme aims to build skills and confidence in both pupils and teachers, encourage participation and collaboration, and leave a sustainable arts legacy for years to come, especially in schools that are actively seeking greater engagement with the arts.

 

Over a 17-week period, the Scottish Opera teaching artists guide pupils through music and movement, and work with staff to give them experience in singing, stage directing, choreography and stage management. The schools are also provided with a Disney Show Kit including scripts, director’s guide, music score, choreography DVD, and rehearsal and accompaniment CDs.

 

The programme with Disney and Scottish Opera first took place in Scotland in 2019 and involved primary schools in Irvine, Paisley, Stirling, Galashiels and Johnstone, but was sadly cut short due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The schools involved, from Glasgow, Wemyss Bay, Faifley, Renfrew and Kilmarnock, have since been able to continue the project over the last few months, and will present their shows in Spring 2022.

NEWS: MAISIE SMITH TO JOIN KEVIN CLIFTON IN THE CAST OF STRICTLY BALLROOM

Strictly Come Dancing finalist and former EastEnders star, Maisie Smith, will make her musical theatre debut later this year, as she co-stars in the 2022/23 UK tour of Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom The Musical in the lead female role of Fran, alongside her former Strictly dance partner, Kevin Clifton, who she waltzed her way to victory with in the Strictly Come Dancing 2019 Children In Need Special.

The musical, based on the award-winning global film phenomenon of the same name, inspired the world to dance and spawned the smash hit TV series Strictly Come Dancing. And now, new for 2022/23, this all-singing, all-dancing and all-glittering show – directed and co-choreographed by Craig Revel Horwood – is set to dazzle audiences once more with this glittering cast. Kicking off in Portsmouth on 26 September, the musical will then waltz around the UK before culminating in Bristol in July 2023. Tickets are on sale now from strictlyballroomtour.co.uk

The show will visit Glasgow in 2023 at The Theatre Royal from 5th to 10th of June.

NEWS: SCOTTISH OPERA YOUNG COMPANY PRESENTS THE WORLD PREMIERE OF RUBBLE THIS JULY

The world premiere of Rubble, a new piece from acclaimed composer Gareth Williams and director and pantomime legend Johnny McKnight, takes place this summer in Glasgow.

Gareth Williams and Johnny McKnight – Image: Sally Jubb

Members of Scottish Opera Young Company, who are aged 17 to 23, are joined by professional soprano Shuna Scott Sendall (The Tsar Has His Photograph Taken 2021), to tell this searingly honest, at times darkly comedic, story. Roxana Haines (L’elisir d’amore 2021 and La bohème 2020) directs and Chris Gray, Scottish Opera Young Company Artistic Director, is the conductor.

Four performances of this new work, written in Scots dialect and originally commissioned as part of the Scottish Opera Outreach and Education Programme’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2021, will be staged at the Company’s Elmbank Crescent premises on 30 and 31 July.

This is Gareth Williams and Johnny McKnight’s third collaboration for Scottish Opera, having previously worked on The Last One Out (2012) and Hand for the 2013 Opera Highlights tour. Gareth is also one of the leads on Breath Cycle, the free online project designed to benefit those suffering from a range of conditions affecting lung health, in particular long Covid.

Inspired by English writer Graham Greene’s short story The Destructors, Rubble is set in both the 1980s and present day Glasgow, and tells a harrowing yet inspiring tale of surviving trauma and the power of vulnerability. This part horror, part black comedy follows a group of young people as stand they amongst the debris of Findenterran Farm, until recently a children’s care home for those abandoned and forgotten in a broken system. As they pick through the shattered fragments of their childhood, they speak of what really went on in that largely ignored property on the outskirts of town. Bold, moving and only too close to real life events, Rubble gives a voice to those who were ignored and overlooked by society while their youth was quietly stolen from them.

Scottish Opera Young Company in Rehearsals – Image: Sally Jubb

Composer Gareth Williams said: ‘I initially found inspiration for Rubble in Graham Greene’s short story The Destructors. It’s got young people with agency, and they’re quite dark, scary creatures in a way. There is an ethically grey world that you don’t normally get when talking about teenagers. And, I know whatever I bring to the table, McKnight will do something completely different with it. It’s our job to make sure as many people as possible can access work like this, as both participants and as audience. Programmes like the Young Company are what will keep the doors open and the lights on for years to come.’

Librettist Johnny McKnight said: ‘I’d never seen young people be allowed to speak up on stage on behalf of another generation of young people and their trauma. Now this generation is holding people accountable for things that have gone on too long – like #MeToo – there’s a resurgence of young folk claiming authority. We still try to keep a humorous lens – I think that’s how Irish and Scottish nationalities delve into this type of thing, where there’s real darkness there’s also real humour. And, the rehearsal room is joyful – the darker the material, the more joyful the room needs to be. It’s exciting to be working with young artists at the start of their professional careers to be able to tell this kind of story.’

Director Roxana Haines said: ‘Rubble is a fast-paced ensemble piece performed by our Young Company with stylised movement and physical theatre, so you are never sure if you’re seeing memories, dreams or nightmares. Prepare for the dizzying heights of teenage love, the resilience of young people in care, and a hope-filled journey towards healing.’

Due to the difficult nature of this show, the cast and creative team have worked with ARTiculate Art Therapy, which uses art to improve emotional well-being, to bring this world safely to life. This production deals with themes of child abuse and child sexual assault within the care system and as such has an age recommendation of 14+.

Scottish Opera Young Company offers young singers and stage managers a unique and practical introduction to the world of opera. Rehearsing throughout the year, they work with a range of opera professionals to hone their skills, culminating in their own performance.

Rubble is supported by Scottish Opera’s Education Angels, Scottish Opera’s New Commissions Circle and The Leverhulme Trust Arts Scholarship Grant.

Tickets for Rubble are available to buy now from www.scottishopera.org.uk/shows/rubble/

Images – Sally Jubb

NEWS: The Glee Club Go Bananas to Mark First Anniversary

The Glee Club Glasgow served up a slice of comedy gold last night at their eagerly awaited first birthday bash. An edible pair of The Big Yin’s ‘big banana boots’ took centre stage and proved to be the icing on the cake at the popular comedy club’s celebratory show.

Guests were able ‘to fill their boots’ with slices of the eye catching life-size birthday cake which was created by award-winning Scottish cake designer 3D cakes. Handcrafted from toffee sponge and airbrushed to depict detail, the comedy cake was the brainchild of The Glee team who voted Billy Connelly’s famous fruity booties their favourite Scottish comedy icon.

A stellar line-up of Scottish comics entertained the crowd throughout the evening, including the award winning Mark Nelson, the hilarious Christopher KC and Ashley Storrie and up and coming stars Christopher Macarthur-Boyd and Shona Lawson . Freshly made food, drinks and a lively after party ensured that a fun-filled evening was had by all to mark the one year milestone.

Since opening its doors in early 2019, The Glee Club Glasgow has welcomed a raft of top comedians to its stage, including Sean Lock, Joel Dommett, Larry Dean, Janey Godley, Suzi Ruffell, Tom Stade, Fern Brady, Rosie Jones, Gary Meikle and Des Clarke. In addition to its popular weekend shows, the club has hosted a series of sell-out events such as book tours, drag shows and a hugely successful series of Christmas and Hogmanay comedy nights.

To further fly the flag for Glasgow’s thriving creative and entertainment industries, The Glee Club partnered with leading Scottish festivals throughout the year to deliver a series of unmissable events including Celtic Connections, Glasgow Film Festival and Glasgow Comedy Festival.

The Glee Founder Mark Tughan commented: “Billy Connelly has some pretty big boots to fill in terms of Scottish comedy, so what better way to celebrate our first year in the city than by paying tribute to him with our wonderfully banana’s cake.

We opened the club to showcase and support stand-up comedy in the city and we are thrilled that our first year has been such a success. Glaswegians are known for their humour, so the top notch acts that the club has attracted and sold out shows really is testament to this. Our team is incredibly excited to bring more must-see shows to the city and fly the flag for Scottish comedy’”.

The Glee Club Glasgow’s 400 seater interior, is theatre-style with great views to the round Glee stage, plus excellent lighting, acoustics and atmosphere. An extensive menu of delicious freshly made food and a great quality drinks offering enables guests to enjoy both an evening of entertainment and dining experience under one roof.

Prices: Friday night tickets £11 / students £8 / ticket + food £20, Saturday night tickets £17 / students £8 / ticket + pizza + drink £27

The Glee Club box office: 0871 472 0400 / info@glee.co.uk

www.glee.co.uk

www.facebook.com/gleeglasgow, www.twitter.com/GleeClubGlasgow

www.instagram.com/gleeclubglasgow

NEWS: STAR OF STAGE AND SCREEN, AND NEW PACE PATRON, JAMES MCARDLE REVEALS LOCATION OF SCOTLAND’S FIRST DEDICATED YOUNG PEOPLE’S THEATRE

PACE Theatre Company is delighted to announce actor James McArdle as its first patron. James is a former PACE Youth Theatre member and since graduating from RADA in 2010 he has garnered a string of impressive credits including title roles in James I, Platonov and Peter Gynt at the National Theatre, a Broadway transfer of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, and as the Earl of Moray in the 2019 feature film Mary Queen of Scots.

This announcement comes as the company reveals the location of the building which is to be transformed into a new community theatre space, EXCHANGE, dedicated to promoting and developing theatre for children, young people and families; as well as promoting participation by young people through performance and creative learning opportunities.

The vacant building on Old Sneddon St in Paisley, was most recently the site of a former nightclub (Mannequins) but was built as the New Templar Hall in 1932 and has been variously used as a dance hall, cinema and telephone exchange in its lifetime.
The building will provide a home venue for PACE’s own performances (almost 200 annually) as well as hosting a programme of professional touring productions, and offering an alternative venue for Renfrewshire’s thriving community performance scene. It’s planned flexible-use spaces will also allow for a host of creative learning opportunities.

Jenni Mason, Artistic Director of PACE, said:
“We’re thrilled that James has accepted our invitation to become a patron for PACE. He has always been incredibly supportive of our work and generous with his time when it comes to our young people, and we know that his achievements to date are an inspiration to many of our young people.

“With the development of Exchange, our aim is to create a welcoming space for children, young people and families – from igniting a passion for theatre and performance in the very young, right through to supporting and nurturing emerging artists at the start of their careers.”

Speaking today, James McArdle said:

“I’ll always be grateful to PACE for the start that they gave me on my journey to becoming an actor, not just the skills I learnt when acting but how to have confidence in myself and hold my own. It is a privilege to be able support them in their ambitions.

“I have experienced first-hand that theatre has the power to be lifechanging and already, it’s clear that through this building they will be able to create even more opportunities for young people and their families.

“It’s still the happiest time of my life, I felt like I had a voice and was listened to at PACE even though I was young. It taught me I had value and worth which has been a vital part in becoming an actor but also just in growing up.”

The proposed model for the building model is inspired by young people focused buildings in England such as Unicorn Theatre, Polka Theatre, Chickenshed and Half Moon Theatre in London, Hullabaloo in Darlington, Contact in Manchester and Greenwich Young People’s Theatre.
Renfrewshire Council has already pledged an award of £300k from Renfrewshire’s £1.46m share of the Scottish Government’s £50m Town Centre Capital Fund – aimed at bringing vacant buildings back into use, improving infrastructure and supporting community-led regeneration.

Cllr Lisa-Marie Hughes, of Renfrewshire Council, added: “PACE Youth Theatre have been at the heart of the local area for more than three decades – in that time many thousands of young people’s lives having been enriched by that experience, and this new venue will open up those benefits to the next generation too.

“Of course, there is a long list of those young people for whom time spent at PACE was their springboard to stardom in the world of TV, film or theatre – and it’s great to see James McArdle coming back to where it all started for him to be part of this announcement today.

“Renfrewshire Council is putting culture at the heart of our plans to help transform the area’s fortunes, through the Future Paisley programme – which includes major investment in our own cultural venues such as Paisley Museum and Town Hall, as well as funding to help local creative groups like PACE grow.

“So we are delighted to have been able to make available funding, which will help PACE bring a long-term vacant building back into use and bring new footfall and vibrancy to the town centre.”
The award is a the first committed towards the project’s capital development total, expected to be in the region of £2.4 million, and PACE is actively seeking funding from sources to achieve this. Full details of the new building and ways to support the campaign can be found at www.exchangetheatre.org<http://www.exchangetheatre.org> .

FEATURE: The Tron Ambassadors Programme Part 2

Since 2003 the Tron have enabled young people to experience a range of the career opportunities available within a fully operational theatre via the one-year Tron Ambassadors scheme. Through this scheme they foster deeper connections with the theatre itself, and the work they do both in-house and within the community, as well as an understanding of the wider theatre and creative arts industries.

Tron Ambassadors take part in regular workshops with Tron staff, external visitors and leading professionals to identify and develop transferable skills. Previous Tron Ambassadors have worked with the Tron’s production, marketing and front of house departments, theatre critics, set and costume designers and professional actors and directors. The programme also allows the Ambassadors to gain an Arts Award qualification from their full participation in the programme.

For the past four years, I have been lucky enough to work with these talented young people on the theatre criticism element of the programme. Always a joy to discover new voices and foster new talent in the field of arts criticism, I have also had the privilege of working with the most talented writers at The Reviews Hub.

Published here are the next batch of reviews of How Not to Drown, Dritan Kastrati’s perilous asylum story.

Reviewer: Helena Leite

ThickSkin’s production of How Not To Drown, the story of eleven-year-old asylum seeker Dritan Kastrati’s unaccompanied journey to the UK, pulls on the heart strings and leaves us all questioning how much we should appreciate our own lives.

Kastrati’s journey begins in 2002 within the aftermath of the Kosovan War and at such a young age is sent away by his parents to be smuggled to the UK for safety. His journey is perilous and the only things he has in order to survive are his wit and charm. Kastrati struggles to cling to his identity and feels a sense of self-loss when he is put into the British care system.

Dritan himself tells the entire story, and in a Brechtian style of switching roles suddenly, other members of the cast also play the role of Kastrati as well as the influential people in his journey. This aspect of the performance stands out, catching the attention,  leaving you curious to see the other actors’ interpretation of the eleven-year-old Dritan.

The set design is simple but affective, showing the limited amount of supplies Dritan had, and also, the fact the acting space is a raised, relatively small, wooden platform, emphasises this young boy’s isolation. The platform is also on a slight gradient, seemingly representing the mental and physical struggle Kastrati faced on his journey, the actors having to work tirelessly to keep up their energy.

How Not To Drown is more than worthy of its Scotsman Fringe First Award and is definitely to be recommended to anyone who enjoys true theatrical authenticity, and also those who are willing to learn of the trials asylum seekers must go through in order to survive.

 

Reviewer: Holly Morton

Forward, forward, forward. Or Down. Or Nothing. The mantra Dritan Kastrati repeats to himself in How Not To Drown, his intensely emotional life story.Through his play, Kastrati sheds light on the previously unseen side of foster care in the UK, and the unfathomable difficulties faced by refugees.

Kastrati himself is brilliant, laying his whole life out for the audience to step into, and punctuating every scene with his real, raw emotion. The five fantastic actors, who perfectly flick between roles throughout, manage to perform flawless choreography on a tilted, rotating stage. Words cannot encapsulate the effect How Not To Drown has on the audience, which shares an essential message on family that all deserve to see.

Reviewer: Abbie Miller

This amazing tale tells the extremely hard but true story of a young Albanian/Kosovan child named Dritan. Dritan’s father forces him to leave his home country for his own safety. This amazing young boy has only ever known war and violence now must take on a whole different type of challenge in the British foster care system. This tragic yet inspiring story is by the Thick Skin theatre company and they manage to do an amazing job telling it.

Even though not everyone can relate to this show, especially this reviewer as a sixteen-year-old Scottish girl, the message behind the show is still very clear. It teaches you to have strength, gives you perspective on your own life and even changes the way you view things.

The character Dritan is played by Kastrati himself which only makes this show even more special. This cast, although small, are an extremely strong team who all trust and rely on each other, making the show ten times better, as you can practically see their bond.

The characters in the show are not restricted by age or gender or even race, and no one actor is set to play the same character for the whole play, which shows us just how truly talented these actors are. To be able to change to a completely different character in a second is truly phenomenal.

It is impossible not to enthralled when watching this play even though there are no dramatic costumes or intricate sets, the story is the only thing needed. They way the lights are used is enough to keep you on your seats too, when Dritan is on the raft heading for England there is a red floodlight used to represent the danger he is in and when he falls into the water the red floodlight changes to a blue one, this represents the water that surrounds him as he tries to escape it.

We watch as Dritan makes the hard and gruelling journey to England and then his terrifying experience whilst trying to get registered as a British citizen, then as he suffers in the foster care system after being taken away from his brother who had been sent to England a few years before Dritan. At school, there is no respite as he is constantly bullied for not being white and not being able to speak English. Throughout the play you have the urge to stand up and tell Dritan that everything will be alright whilst also being too scared to move a muscle in fear you miss something.

How Not to Drown is a truly exceptional play that will have you leaving the theatre an emotional wreck with a new point of view on the world. This story will hopefully become known across the world so that people know they are not alone and teach people how hard life can be for different people; you should always treat people the way you want to be treated yourself – no matter what.

Reviewer: Danny Taggart

The moving story How Not to Drown is the story of the hard life of Kosovan/Albanian boy, Dritan Kastrati, who is forced by his father to seek a new beginning in a new country. The young kid who has previously grown up surrounded by war and destruction, now must face another kind of hardship in the UK foster care system. The uplifting, but traumatic show is by the theatre company Thick Skin.

While the show is hard to relate to as a 14-year-old Glaswegian teenager it is easy to see the message is very important. This play changes your outlook on life by making you think about how easy you have it. And the fact that Dritan is played by Dritan Kastrati himself, makes the whole thing even more powerful.

The show cleverly has interchanging roles, allowing you to see each one of these talented actors’ performance of Dritan. The cast seamlessly switching between roles without breaking the atmosphere. The small cast seem to have a very strong relationship which only adds to making you feel like part of the action.

Like the rotating roles, the stage also rotates giving you different perspectives of the action. Allowing you to never become bored of the one very simple-seeming set. This is not the only clever aspect of the set design with a chain that allows the actors to lean into the audience which connects you to them.

There is clever use of light too, when a character leans into the audience, a very simple white light shines on them showing their emotions or thoughts at that time. The sound and music immerse you into the show making you feel like you are that little scared young boy.

As you follow Kastrati from his journey on the boat trying to make his way to the UK, to the tough asylum seeking process and then through his horrible experience in the foster care system where he was so excluded from his normal way of life, you just want to tell him everything is going to end up fine, How Not To Drown is a phenomenal play. It will have you walking out at the end with a new perspective.

This show should be remembered and will hopefully make many people have a new outlook on the tough prospects that people on our very doorsteps go through every day of their lives.

 

Reviewer: Jack Byrne

Fringe First Award-winning How Not to Drown, manages to defy expectations and leave a lasting impact.

How Not to Drown focuses on the true story of Dritan Kastrati, writer and star of the play. It tells of how, when he was only 11 years old, his father sent him on his own to the UK from their home in Kosovo, to escape the Kosovan war.

Before the performance even begins, we are met with the stage; a makeshift raft made from planks of wood nailed together, raised up at one side to create a downward slope. Very clever, from the outset, it creates a sense of imbalance. The actors are constantly working to stay upright as they move around the stage.

From the outset we are drawn into Kastrati’s story. It is a harrowing yet uplifting tale, full of humour and heart. The fact that Kastrati himself is telling the story, makes it more real. It takes great bravery to stand in front of an audience and share intimate details of your own personal experience.

The storytelling is fast paced and, as we move from scene to scene, Kastrati and the four other actors are constantly changing characters, with each actor playing Dritan at least once. The idea that they are all Dritan symbolised how we can all relate to his story in some way or another. By the end of the performance you will be in tears, completely moved by the performance, unexpectedly deeply affected by the show, with new-found respect for Kastrati and everyone who has gone through the same thing.

The show is outstanding and definitely to be recommended. Go and see it if you get the chance.

 

Reviewer: Ros Butchart

How Not to Drown is an emotive and captivating play based around the true story of a young boy’s journey from his conflict endangered home to England. It is thought provoking and strikes the perfect balance between heartbreaking and humorous.

Throughout the play there are certain powerful themes that are emphasised, one being that the young boy, Dritan Kastrati or Tan as he is known, is unable to swim. Tan repeats a sort of mantra to himself “forward, forward or down or nothing”, and this serves as a powerful metaphor for the obstacles he faces while growing up and struggling to get to England, the struggle find a home there and then find a place that really feels like home at all. This play deals with real life issues such as the difficulties people in war effected countries face, being an immigrant in a foreign country and the overwhelming bureaucracy of the care system.

At the very beginning of the show we see Dritan being thrown into a river by his older brother and his brothers’ friends, and this is done beautifully as Dritan is tilted forward at an impossible angle of an already tilted stage when he says his mantra for the first time.

This opening is extremely effective in grasping the watcher’s attention, but more so than that, keeping it with the same enchanting intensity consistently present throughout. The ideas of repeated patterns and themes, for example Dritan’s mantra and his ability to read the true intentions of others (which proves to be a key skill that helps him on his journey) , these factors are both impressive and impactful as they really help the audience sink into the rhythm of the play.

Another impressive aspect of the show is the set and staging, with a small cast of only five the storytelling is seamless and engaging. The play is set on a raised, angled wooden surface that represented a raft, the actors ducking behind the stage and appearing again as a different character or to bring on props so smoothly it contributes to the overall dynamic of the play. The piece also incorporates a lot of physical theatre and this is executed flawlessly, the group moving as one.

This is a sharp and well executed production, and the raw emotion displayed on stage leaves you breathless. Without a doubt one of the most impactful pieces of theatre on the current theatrical scene.

Beautifully constructed, this truthful play tells a story that needs to be heard.

Images: Mihaela Bodlovic

NEWS: War Horse’s Joey visits Glasgow before its run at the SEC Armadillo

The National Theatre’s acclaimed production of War Horse, based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo arrives at The SEC Armadillo from 15 January – 2 February 2019 as part of a national tour.

Joey, the life-size equine puppet from War Horse made a special early appearance in Glasgow next to The Duke of Wellington Statue last week as well as his home for January – The SEC Armadillo. The event also included a talk about the history of the show from War Horse’s Assistant Puppetry Director, Matthew Forbes.

 

The puppeteers operating Joey in Glasgow are: Gareth Aled (Head), Michael Taibi (Heart) and Antony Antunes (Hind).

NEWS: Variety stars to shine at the Festival Theatre this October

Marie Duthie, June Don Murray and Doreen Leighton-Ward are three women from the golden age of Variety.  Aged 94, 90 and 85 respectfully, they are all still dancing. Brought together by director and choreographer Janice Parker these consummate dancers are guaranteed to both awe and entertain.

In early 2016 Janice was approached by the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh to contribute to their engagement programme.  Interested in the idea of authorship, agency and the legacy of older performers in today’s dance world, she put out a call looking for dancers from the Variety era who had at one time or another performed on the stage of The Empire, now Festival Theatre, Edinburgh.

Marie Duthie (nee Pyper) was born in 1923 and trained in Edinburgh. She first danced publicly as a toddler at her father’s amateur concert parties where she met her dance teacher Constance Gabrielle. By 1930 she was also training in ballet, tap and acrobatics with another Edinburgh teacher, Marjorie Middleton. In 1932, at the age of 9, Marie performed the dying swan solo and was noted by Edinburgh’s Evening Dispatch newspaper who said, “memories of Pavlova are brought to mind”. By 1940 she toured the country with The Ganjou Brothers and Juanita. Acrobatics was her speciality and in 1942 she became one half of The Raymond Sisters, extensively touring the UK on the renowned Moss Empire Circuit with her double act, which ended with them in mini kilts singing and tap dancing to Macphersin’ is Rehearsin’ to Swing.

Janice Parker Project – Festival Theatre Edinburgh

Marie  herself says: “I’ve been dancing from the word go. My mother used to say whenever there was any music on I was twitching and moving, always dancing and doing my own version. I feel so at home the minute I put my tap shoes on”.

June Don Murray was born in 1927 into a theatrical family in Scarborough, the daughter of performer and theatre manager Roy Don Parker and dancer Phyllis Ward and grand-daughter of renowned Variety performer, Happy Tom Parker. The family moved to Edinburgh when June was three and her father became manager of the Palladium Theatre. June began her formal training at Madame Ada’s dance school and went on to perform across Scotland and the UK with the Adaline Calder Girls, the Hamish Turner Dancers and then with the Moxon Girls. In 1955 June became the assistant to Australian illusionist The Great Levante, taking part in disappearing acts, bullet tricks and was regularly fired out of a canon.

June says: “Oh, it’s a laugh a minute, we love it, but nobody knows what goes into making a show, the time it takes, how hard we work, the precision”

Doreen Leighton-Ward was born in 1931 in Edinburgh and began her dance training in Madame Ada’s Dance School in Picardy Place Edinburgh as one of the Calderettes. At the age of 15 she becomes a Calder girl and toured in pantomime across the country before becoming head girl with The Hamish Turner Troupe. In 1953 Doreen attended an Equity meeting, initiated a strike, and successfully challenged and changed the working pay of dancers in Variety theatre. She appears as an unnamed mystery woman in a photograph of that meeting in The Scotsman. Doreen went on to dance in musical theatre and to appear in many TV dramas. She was recently choreographer for The Last Post, directed by Susan Worsfold as part of the Made In Scotland Showcase 2017.

Doreen says ‘’Ours was a small piece of a large jigsaw from which other dance styles evolved. I’ve a renewed sense of worth in the work we did 65 years ago. This is exciting, heady stuff.”

Director Janice Parker commented: “These women have never stopped dancing and continue to transmit their love of the art form and for the act of dancing. They have so much knowledge, skill and passion. True forces of nature. For a year now we have been working together a day a week collecting, gathering, exchanging and dancing. We have two young dancers in their 20s in the company, Katie Miller and Daisy Douglas, who are learning choreography and technique from Marie, June and Doreen. They are also learning about the life of these women and its relevance and contribution to dance now.

We are three generations of dancing. I turn 60 this year and long to give agency, authorship and relevance to older women dancing, to their continuing possibilities and to the stories our bodies tell.

There is so much to share. At the peak of their careers Variety dancers were in the main unnamed.  Some weeks they were doing 13 shows a week and travelling to the next venue with their costumes, sheet music, and the occasional dog and kangaroo. And all on their day ‘off’!” An Audience With… is a way of giving voice and recognition and a means to share the energy and vivacity of these dancers.”

The live events take place, aptly, in the Festival Theatre’s Empire Rooms. Structured loosely around a guided tour. An Audience With… is a live and virtual experience with six dancers, from three generations who share their dancing lives, past, present and future.

Marie, June and Doreen say: “We dance. We talk about dance. We talk about the profession then and the profession now. We talk about ourselves. We’ve danced in the studio, the dressing rooms, in the theatre bar, in the foyer and back on the main stage Janice, Katie and Daisy are learning to tap dance. We do the five positions of ballet. We work on portable tap mats and sometimes ballet barres. We experiment with seated dance, and a bit of creative contemporary. We teach class. We talk about dance not just as the mastery of steps but also as the ‘feeling’ of movement, swinging, hanging loose and feeling the music. We know the importance of rehearsal and repetition. We choreograph. And we think about what it means to be an older dancer, what it feels like to not be able to do what you once could and did do, and what it means to do it differently.”

Paul Hudson, Forget Me Not Co-ordinator says: “To actually have people in-residence in the building has brought our history and our stories alive and gives perspective on what we are doing now. The staff love watching these women dance and hearing about their time on the Empire stage.”

In 2018, An Audience With… will also produce a book and a film, and the dancers will continue meeting weekly. They are also interested in meeting other dancers from that era.

An Audience with… will be at the Empire Rooms in the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh on Saturday 21, Thursday 26 and Saturday 28 October 2017  from 3pm to 4.30pm.

The venue is wheelchair accessible and guide dogs are welcome.

Images: Greg Macvean 

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