Twenty years after it was last seen in full-scale production, The Gaiety Ayr, Perth Theatre and Cumbernauld Theatre Company are combining to present a brand-new tour of Ann Marie Di Mambro’s modern Scottish classic Tally’s Blood.
Directed by Ken Alexander, who also directed the 2003 production, Tally’s Blood will open in Perth Theatre from Thursday 21 until Saturday 30 September 2023 before touring to Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock; Cumbernauld Theatre at Lanternhouse; Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock; Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling and Theatre Royal, Dumfries, concluding its run at The Gaiety from Wednesday 1 until Friday 3 November.
There is hardly a town or city in Scotland that doesn’t have its own Italian café, chippy or ice-cream parlour. And it’s in one of these much-loved establishments that the story of Tally’s Blood starts…
Lucia can wrap her aunt and uncle around her little finger, cry to order, and she doesn’t like going to school. She likes Hughie though, so much so that they seal their friendship with a secret ceremony in the storeroom of her family’s ‘Tally’ shop – aided by an illicit bottle of ‘ginger’.
Auntie Rosinella loves Lucia like all the children she never had, but will anyone – particularly a ‘Scotch’ boy – ever be good enough for the girl she loves ‘best in the whole wide world’’?
As their childhood camaraderie blossoms into romance, Lucia and Hughie face more challenges than their countries taking opposing sides in the Second World War.
Told with heart and humour, Tally’s Blood follows the lives of an Italian immigrant family in Scotland, from the 1930s through to the 1950s, in a sweeping tale of poverty, passion and prejudice that travels from the west of Scotland to the sun-baked Italian countryside.
First performed at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh in 1990, Tally’s Blood is a Set Text for National 5 English.
Welcoming the new tour, announced on Italian Liberation Day – 25 April 2023 – Ann Marie Di Mambro said:
“Of all the pieces I’ve written in the last 30+ years Tally’s Blood is closest to my heart. It delves into my own Scottish-Italian heritage and the stories I was told growing up. I’m very excited at the prospect of a tour marking the 20th anniversary of the last production and I’m delighted that Ken Alexander is returning to direct it once again.”
Ken Alexander said:
“I have been keen to revisit the play for some time as it has become something of a Scottish classic, known by people across the country but infrequently produced.
It is a piece that, although set between the 1930s and 1950s, has a lot of contemporary resonances – particularly those around multiculturalism and the immigrant experience, and contemporary issues that make us question what brings us together and what pushes us apart in society. However, the thing that appeals to me most is the huge heart that is contained in Ann Marie Di Mambro’s play – drawn very closely from her own family experience as Italian immigrants that settled in Scotland. Her storytelling is full of warmth, nostalgia and affection without ever being overly sentimental. Audiences can expect a rattling good story, laughter, tears and a good night out!”
Jeremy Wyatt, Chief Executive of The Gaiety said:
“Tally’s Blood is about a key part of Scotland’s history, and the strong bond between Scotland and Italy. And it’s also about the immigrant experience so it’s about Scotland’s present too. On top of that it’s funny, with a dash of romance. No wonder it has a special place in the hearts of so many people I speak to.”
Fraser Morrison, Creative Producer at Cumbernauld Theatre said:
“At Cumbernauld Theatre we recognise the strengths of working in partnership and are delighted to join forces with Perth Theatre and Ayr Gaiety. This powerful and poignant play immediately captured our attention as it explores key themes that are not only relevant to our modern society today, but also resonate deeply with us as a Scottish community. We are confident that this story will strike a chord with our local audience who appreciate stories rooted in truth and authenticity, and who value the power of connection. Furthermore, this collaboration provides a unique opportunity for school groups to engage with our Creative Learning programme alongside this work, and for the general public to enjoy a modern Scottish classic. We look forward to embarking on this exciting journey with our partners and sharing Tally’s Blood with audiences across Scotland.”
Nick Williams, Chief Executive of Perth Theatre and Concert Hall said:
“We’re delighted to be working in partnership with our friends at The Gaiety and Cumbernauld Theatre Company to bring Tally’s Blood to the stage again. Twenty years since it last toured, I’m sure that Ken Alexander’s new production will provoke warm memories from its many fans and resonate with a new generation of young theatre lovers who are just discovering this poignant love story with its enduring themes and relatable characters.”
Tickets for Tally’s Blood will go on sale this summer, with further information and cast announcement to follow.