War Horse, the critically acclaimed play based on the beloved Michael Morpurgo novel about the First World War, and one young man’s devotion to his horse, is coming to Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre next year.
The production has been seen by over three million people worldwide since its premiere at the National Theatre in 2007. War Horse is the powerful story of a young boy called Albert and his beloved horse Joey, who has been requisitioned to fight in the First World War. Caught in enemy crossfire, Joey ends up serving on both sides during the war, before ending up in no-man’s land, while Abert, not old enough to enlist, embarks on a treacherous mission to find his horse and bring him home.
A remarkable tale of courage, loyalty, friendship War Horse features ground-breaking puppetry work by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, which brings breathing, galloping horses to life on the stage.
On Tuesday, Joey, the life sized horse equine puppet made an early appearance at Edinburgh Castle, before showing off his considerable talents to a specially invited audience at the Festival Theatre.
Young and old alike sat enthralled as the National Theatre’s managing director Stephen Rebbeck introduced a short film showing Michael Morpurgo explain the background to the story, before handing over to Associate Puppetry Director Finn Caldwell who has worked on the play since its early development.
Finn described the work done by Handspring Puppets to bring Joey to life, then introduced him to the audience who greeted his appearance with gasps of amazement then thunderous applause, as he made his way slowly to the stage.
Joey then showed off his talents, walking, running and jumping to roars of approval, before eventually leaving the stage. The reason for Joey’s sudden departure soon became apparent when the puppeteers who operate him, Shaun McKee (Head), Matt Tait (Heart) and Sam Clark (Hind) returned for a question and answer session with the school children in the audience.
The trio revealed that it took eight weeks rehearsing before they appeared in public but they are still perfecting their art, and also that the costume weighs 11 stones, without a rider.
Joey then returned to conduct a photo shoot with the delighted children from four Edinburgh Primary Schools, Tollcross, Wester Hailes, St Thomas’s and Preston Street.
Festival Theatre Chief Executive Duncan Hendry said:- “We are thrilled to be hosting the only Scottish performances of War Horse and delighted that audiences north of the border now have a chance to see this highly acclaimed production in Scotland. We look forward to welcoming more shows of this stature in the future.”
The production will appear at the Festival Theatre between Wednesday 22 January and Saturday 15 February 2014 as part of a 43 week tour of the UK.
Tickets costing £20-£50 are still available and can be booked via the Box Office T 0131 529 6000 or online at www.edtheatres.com
Photographs by www.jonsavagephotography.com/
CATS Awards 2013 (Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland), Traverse Theatre, 9 June 2013.
Film-maker John Byrne (centre), who made the awards at the CATS (Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland) with Blythe Duff after the awards ceremony at Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre, Sunday 9 June 2013.
Colin Hattersley Photography
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The Walking Theatre Company, and their offspring ‘Canadian Walking Youth Theatre’, present the Scottish debut of an original work “Selkirk’s New Nation” at The Scottish Parliament in June.
Scottish Social Enterprise, The Walking Theatre Company (TWTC), produce a unique brand of interactive outdoor theatre, engaging audiences within the play, the cultural heritage and natural environment that surrounds them.
The Canadian Walking Youth Theatre is made up of a diverse group of pupils from Powerview School in Manitoba, descended from Canadian First Nations, (Cree, Ojibwe, Mètis) and French, Irish and Scottish settlers.
“Our fantastic story started when Powerview School teacher, Nancy Kovachik, visited Scotland in 2010. She came here to take part in a Fiddle workshop, hosted by Mari Campbell, on the beautiful western Isle of Lismore. Quite literally as she got of the boat, she was whisked along to join in a Walking Theatre Company show: TWTC working with their first youth team ‘The Lismore Walking Youth Theatre’ were doing what they do best that day; entertain!
“Nancy was in her own words “utterly swept away by the experience” and immediately after the show, she grabbed Artistic Director & Playwright, Sadie Dixon-Spain, saying “can you bring this amazing thing to Canada”; and so an unusual transatlantic adventure began.
“Selkirk’s New Nation” was born! The play written by Sadie Dixon-Spain, shaped by the youth teams own heritage and cultural references, explores the impact of Lord Selkirk’s ‘Scots’ Settlers upon Canadian history and the legacy shared by the Canadians and the Scots today. A TWTC team worked in Manitoba for 3 weeks, this May, forming the very first ‘Canadian Walking Youth Theatre’ and producing the play to 4 public performances around the province over 1 very hectic and hugely fun weekend. Politically with the Mètis people this year, being granted their own ‘land rights’ by the Canadian Government, after an ignored treaty of 1870, the story has held a special connection for many of our audience and the Scots Diaspora. For 100’s of years the Mètis people have been a ‘hidden people’ without land, or identity, lost like the generations of cleared Highlanders, however, like Selkirk’s people, they have found their ‘own way’.
“Nancy’s extraordinary vision was so much more than the creation of a play, and a transatlantic collaboration. The inspirational work of Staff, pupils and the community of Powerview has led to over $100,000 Canadian, being raised to enable their Youth Team to come to Scotland in June and perform the play at Holyrood and on the Isle of Lismore in June 2013, thus beginning their own Scottish adventure. This visit is very poignant to many of the youth group who feel they will be visiting their ‘home from home’ for the very first time and represents a lifetime opportunity, and to perform at Holyrood with the support of Scottish MSP’s is an extraordinary boost, the event has been kindly sponsored by Mr. Mike MacKenzie MSP.”
The Isle of Lismore performance Sunday 30 June 2013 at 14.30hrs is a public event, followed by tea in the Café.
For more information, and Guest List enquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01369 820 115.
Visit the website: www.thewalkingtheatrecompany.com
Townsend Productions and The Assembly Rooms present the world premiere of WE WILL BE FREE a new play by Neil Gore. Directed by Louise Townsend & Richard Stone Designer: Fine Time Fontayne Musical Director: John Kirkpatrick Cast: Neil Gore and Elizabeth Eves
DATES 4– 25 August 2013 at 12.30pm (no performance 12 Aug)
RUNNING TIME: 1hr 10mins
VENUE: The Ballroom, Assembly Rooms, 54 George Street, 54 George Street, Edinburgh
Following their sold-out national tour and critically acclaimed run of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Towns End Productions are set to return to the festival from 2-25 August at The Ballroom in the Assembly Rooms to premiere their latest, We Will Be Free a new drama set around the story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs.
Set in 1834 We Will Be Free follows the extraordinary true story of George and Betsy Loveless. He was a Methodist preacher and the leader of the six Dorsetshire farm labourers who were tried, convicted and condemned to harsh transportation by an oppressive Government for having the temerity to swear a secret oath and form a union to fight against a succession of wage cuts inflicted by the local landowners.
This vitally important story is told using the entertaining theatrical style developed through our production of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists; through Andy Vine’s powerful political cartoons and animation; through puppetry and the exquisite musical arrangements by revered folk singer and squeezebox player John Kirkpatrick, of the songs and rallying hymns of the Dorset labouring classes that resound down the years.
We Will Be Free’s excellent cast features Neil Gore (Song of Singapore, West End & Chichester Festival Theatre, Little Britain Live & The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists) and Elizabeth Eves (Twelfth Night, Nuffield Theatre, Southampton). The production is directed by Louise Townsend and Richard Stone, with the creative team including designs by Fine Time Fontayne and lighting by Brian O’Carroll.
The production will also feature songs from the highly acclaimed folk singer and squeezebox player, John Kirkpatrick. During his distinguished career John has worked with artists like Roy Bailey, John Tams, Richard Thompson, Martin Carthy and Steeleye Span. He is also a regular session musician and has played on numerous film sound tracks most recently the Oscar nominated Pirates – Adventures with Scientists, as well as in The Royal National Theatre Production of ‘Lark Rise To Candleford‘.
The play has had the backing of the unions ACCORD, NASUWT, UNITE, SWTUC, SW Unison
Tickets for ‘We Will Be Free are priced at £15 (£14 previews, Concs available) and can be purchased at the Box Office on 0844 693 3008 or online at www.arfringe.com
Scotland’s forgotten bloodiest battle is brought back to life
A university has joined forces with local dramas groups to commemorate Scotland’s near forgotten ‘Battle of Pinkie Cleugh’.
The battle between the Scots and English at Pinkie in Musselburgh, is thought to be one of the bloodiest ever to take place on Scottish soil. However, although local historians know that 10,000 Scots died, most people are completely unaware of this tragic historical event which took place in 1547.
The play, which is called the ‘Battle of Pinkie Cleugh’ unveils an important time in Scots history known as ‘The Rough Wooing of Mary, Queen of Scots’. It highlights a period of time when Henry VIII demanded the hand of the infant Queen Mary, for his son, Edward. However, the battle ensued as King Henry’s request was denied.
Community drama students from Queen Margaret University have joined forces with local interest groups to put on the play at the Brunton Theatre. Students on the Costume Design and Construction degree have created stunning period costumes for the drama and the QMU student playwright, Rory Edrington, has developed the script.
Three different community groups make up the cast – The Brunton Players, The Brunton Senior Youth Theatre and the Prestongrange Players.
Irvine Allan, Lecturer in Drama and Performance at Queen Margaret University, has worked with Lesley Smith, East Lothian Council’s Principal Arts Officer and local interest groups to produce the new play. He said: “The River Esk ran red with the blood of both Scots and English solders, but yet most people know little or nothing about this fascinating event.
“This project has been a real eye-opener. Our playwright researched and wrote the play in association with the Pinkie Cleuch Battlefield Group advisers, so we have made great efforts to ensure historical accuracy.”
English war ships, as well as Spanish and Italian mercenaries, joined the English land forces to take Musselburgh, and seize East Lothian. The aim was to force the Scots into the marriage of the infant Queen Mary to Edward. The resistance led to a vicious battle with heavy casualties, mostly borne by the Scots, who were defeated on the day.
Irvine Allan continued: “The play is a stunning linguistic, visual and musical commemoration of the event. Our students are really proud to be involved in such an interesting collaborative project which will bring an important period of history to the attention of a wider public.”
Councillor Tim Day, Cabinet Spokesperson for Community Wellbeing, East Lothian Council, said: “This project has given our local community drama groups the opportunity to work with students from Queen Margaret University to bring a significant period of Scottish history to life through the medium of theatre. I am delighted that the play will be presented in Venue 1 at The Brunton and make use of the fantastic technical facilities that this refurbished venue has to offer.”
In September 2013, The Pinkie Cleugh Battlefield Group will launch, The Battlefield Trail, which visits the key sites of the battle. It is hoped that the area will develop as a visitor attraction.
The Battle of Pinkie Cleugh will take place in the Brunton Theatre’s newly developed Venue 1 (Musselburgh) on Thursday 18 April 2013, 7.30pm.
Tickets are priced at £6.75.
Box Office: T: 0131 665 2240.
Online booking at: http://www.bruntontheatre.co.uk/webpages/howtobook.php
Edinburgh’s award-winning Arkle theatre company present a rare chance for audiences to enjoy one of David Mamet’s most sparkling comedies.
’Boston Marriage’ is a stylish historical snapshot of same-sex commitment that clearly resonates with current debates. Acid-tongued Anna and the doomed romantic Claire are old sparring partners reuniting after the latter has been on a long vacation. However, during their separation each has acquired a new paramour. For Anna, it’s a wealthy man who has given her a valuable necklace. For Claire, a beautiful ingenue unaware of her new friend’s intentions. Oh, and Anna has hired a maid: a rough-hewn Orcadian wench who might just be every bit as sharp-witted as her tormentors.
Premiered in the US in 1999, the play takes its name from a late 19th century term for a variety of all-female domestic partnerships. It is also Mamet’s response to charges that he cannot write convincingly about or for women – and what a bejewelled riposte it is. Zipping along on waves of Wildean wit punctuated with bawdy jokes, the play is a fully-rounded entertainment that joyfully provokes questions about monogamy, passion and age.
Director Phil Barnes sees the range of language and mood as a key attraction: ’I always want to choose a script that is demanding for the actors, that will bring the best out of them. My strength lies in comedy but I enjoy the rollercoaster ride you can give the audience if that is mixed with true tender or even sad moments, so that they leave having run the whole gamut of emotions.’
Arkle Theatre Company have an impressive record in staging contemporary work. In 2011 they secured first amateur rights to present Patrick Barlow’s spoof of ’The 39 Steps’ and won top prize in the Edinburgh Evening News Drama Awards. Later this year one of their two Fringe shows will be the first UK amateur production of Yasmina Reza’s smash hit ’God of Carnage’. Full info about the group can be found at http://www.arkletheatre.co.uk.
EDINBURGH – at St Mark’s Unitarian Church, Castle Terrace
Tuesday 23rd April
Wednesday 24th April
*NO PERFORMANCE THURSDAY 25TH*
Friday 26th April
Saturday 27th April
at 7.30 pm
All tickets £10.00 (available on door)
or book on 0131 332 6510
Submitted by Lorraine McCann
Will you make it? That is what LAStheatre’s Deadinburgh would like to know. Scotland is ravaged by an unknown disease and those of you who are left are kindly invited to the Summerhall, the former Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies near the Meadows. Full of old laboratories, professional actors and real scientists you have only hours to save Edinburgh …
Dates: 19 April, 2013 – 21 April, 2013
Times: Show Duration 7.30pm – 10.00pm
Trystan Davies spoke to Deadinburgh director Barra Collins:
Edinburgh College Breeds BAFTA Success
Two former Edinburgh College students have proved they are the cream of the film making crop at the prestigious British Academy of Film and Television Arts New Talent awards.
Garry Fraser took home the top gong in the factual film category for his acclaimed autobiographical short Everybody’s Child, which details the hardships of growing up with a life of drugs and crime in Scotland through the gritty lens of reality.
Fellow student John Campbell was also celebrating after learning the lead actress in his film Aurora, Sophie Gane was nominated in the category Best Acting Performance, for her performance as Bailie, one of only two survivors on a mission to reach Earth to save the human race.
John, now 27, first attended Edinburgh College at the age of 18 to study NC in Dramatic Arts and returned in 2010 to begin a HND course in Creative Industries: Television.
When asked about the nomination John said: ”Although it’s disappointing not to win the BAFTA, the fact that we were nominated is a fantastic honour in itself and I am delighted that my film has gained the recognition it has.
“I have to attribute some of this success to Edinburgh College who provided unique opportunities for me to gain vital practical experience. Aurora was actually made for my final end of year project in 2012, so with out support from the college and lecturers I wouldn’t have had the idea let alone be able to make the film.
“In particular I would like to thank my lecturer, Fraser Mansell, who provided an abundance of inspiration and motivation not to mention reminded me about the awards and encouraged me to enter.”
Aurora which was filmed in just over 24 hours and made with virtually no budget indicates the skill of John as a writer, actor, producer and director. Aurora won the Audience Award for Best Film at Edinburgh College’s degree show last year and in 2011 John also picked up the Best Film award for his first year project film entitled, Claire.
The film, set in space, tells the story of a fleet of 50 transports that are travelling back to Earth with a life saving vaccine. Aurora stars Sophie Gane and John Campbell as Bailie and Sam, crew members of the cargo ship, the USCSS Aurora. The Aurora is the last one and the last chance but when tragedy hits the ship, it’s not a question of when they’ll make it back to earth, but if they’ll make it back at all.
An Edinburgh College representative said: “We were delighted to hear of Aurora’s nomination and although the guys did not come away with the top award, the sheer fact that their talent has been recognised is reward enough in itself.
“John and the team did a fantastic job on the film, creating something which was both professional and very real at the same time. Directing can be a tricky job, as you have to communicate and work closely with your actors to get the possible performance and through Aurora John certainly does that.
“Visually, it is a very striking film, set in the future and in space, with a vast amount of special effects needed to realize it.
“Along with the staff and students at Edinburgh College, I would like to congratulate John on his nomination and of course Garry Fraser for his award win and hope that these are the first of many bright new talents to come out of Edinburgh College.”
The HND Creative Industries Television course is a 2 year course designed to develop the technical, practical and critical skills required by the film and television industries. Students on the course develop a broad range of skills from directing, lighting and camerawork to editing and post production.
More information the Creative Industries course and all other courses at Edinburgh College can be found at www.edinburghcollege.ac.uk
Comedy and tragedy make unsettlingly close bedfellows in Donna Franceschild’s big, popular drama about the precarious revival of a radio station in a Glasgow psychiatric hospital. And although Mark Thomson’s slick, pacey staging – a co-production between the Lyceum and Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre – brings plenty of laughs, there’s an undercurrent of threat and unpredictability, even violence, that raises darker questions about patients’ freedoms, and about the sanity of the mental health system itself.
But make no mistake – it’s a hugely enjoyable evening, full of thought-provoking fun and often rowdy laughter. Based on scripts from Franceschild’s successful 1990s BBC TV series of the same name – but substantially rethought for this 21st-century theatrical reincarnation – it follows failed DJ and double-glazing salesman Steady Eddie McKenna (a quietly strong performance from Iain Robertson) as he brings his cherished collection of Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding and Sam Cooke LPs to entertain the patients in the St Jude’s mental institution on its almost-defunct hospital radio system.
It’s not long before the new arrival starts to transform the lives of patients – from hyperactive young Campbell (a brilliantly volatile Brian Vernel) to cleanliness-obsessed Rosaline (in a touchingly warm performance from Caroline Paterson). But as their confidence, creativity and involvement increase, so does conflict with the institution’s subtly repressive management.
Franceschild is good at pointing up blurred lines between sanity and insanity – in the alcoholism of the supposed level-headed Eddie, for example, or the barely suppressed violence of nurse Stuart. And she’s keen to show the role that circumstance has played in the patients’ conditions, for instance in the understandable reaction to abuse exhibited by the fragile Francine, played with tenderness by Helen Mallon.
But she also seems keen to cram as much as she can into what feels like quite a long two and a half hours. As more and more of the patients’ back stories are revealed, Franceschild’s narrative thread seems increasingly to lack focus – by the end, we have so many tales to take on board that a sudden tragedy goes all but unnoticed.
Nevertheless, it’s a powerful, thoroughly entertaining evening, and Thomson draws exceptionally fine performances from his extremely strong cast. Without the slightest hint of voyeurism, it’s as though we can only truly find order and meaning by staring into the chaos.
Following the success of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Fantastic Mr Fox last year, Napier University Drama Society (NUDS) Easter performance this year will be Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett. Promising to take you to the ‘magnificent confusion’ called Discworld, the play will be staged at The Scottish Storytelling Centre.
Brano Mizenko, Marketing Manager, said: “NUDS’ production of Terry Pratchett’s comic fantasy Carpe Jugulum will take you to the town of Lancre exploring the traditions of vampires and witches giving you a true cultural experience all thanks to fantastic cooperation between the directors, actors, and technical team.
“It is an amazing play offering lots of fun, vampires, witches and much more. The actors definitely enjoyed rehearsing for the play, even though it was very busy; they have had to meet regularly in order to make sure everything is well prepared. It’s different to our previous shows as it much bigger in terms of the cast and duration.”
Tickets are available to be purchased through the Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh. Doors open at 7pm, with an estimated end time of 10pm. Price: £6/£5 conc. (inc. students).