Saturday, 12 September 2015

SPECTRETOWN on the road!

We cannot believe we're more than half way through this mad tour! We wanted to share some pics of our journey sooner but we've been running around like banshees on stages, motorways, ferries, and wee roads across the country :-) Since setting off at the crack of dawn last Thursday to catch an early ferry to the isle of Mull, we've played 6 shows across 5 venues, met so many wonderful people, taught workshops grounded in the heritage of the North East, sung to eachother in cars and vans, negotiated our fairly complex set into all kind of spaces, and last night we even had a cabinet minister in our audience - what a week! Here's some shots from our travels and adventures - it's a privilege to be telling this story to audiences all over the country...


 The road to Oban....



Waiting in Oban for the ferry to Mull


 And it was a glorious day for the crossing :-)


 
Actors Mark Wood and Elspeth Turner! Mark was very excited to go see Mull for the first time!

 
Fitting up at Mull Theatre - one of our favourite theatres to play in - always so magical :-)

 
Roll up! Posters up at Mull Theatre - Elspeth trying to stop traffic :-)

 
 
Big thanks to Martin and Sheena and all the lovely folks at Mull Theatre for the warm welcome - hope to be back soon :-) 
 
We left early the next morning to head to the Macrobert Arts Centre near Stirling, where we had lots of help doing our get-in into the studio space. It was a really special, intimate show, and our producer Aiyana showed up too - she can't get enough of this story! It was a hectic day so we didnae get ony snaps like :-( but a braw time was had by all - we love the lay-out and energy of the space there. Thanks Julie Ellen for having us, and all the best to her in her new post as Artistic Director - exciting times ahead!
 
Early net morning we zoomed off North to Aberdeen and the Arts Centre Theatre! While our wonderful crew unloaded into this lovely space....
 
 
Artistic Director Elspeth and Composer Matt Regan began a day of workshops with these wee rascals in our 'Fairytale of Aberdeen' workshop! They acted out all the characters in bothy ballad The Guise o' Tough with great relish - and two Dads stayed to join the fun too! Great to hear the young folk singing these songs :-)
 
 
 

 
After this, our awesome Assistant Director Rob Jones arrived to lead our workshop for adults, with a focus on devising theatre from local material, called 'A Local Beauty'. Elspeth helped out too, and the group was led in two new bothy ballads by the great Sheena Blackhall - Aberdeen's own Makar and an amazing human being :-)
 

 
For the final session of the day, local Torry man and actor Mark Wood led an action and story-packed workshop with some very energetic and clever Aberdonian youngsters! In this workshop, 'My City, Early Days', Mark, Sheena, Elspeth and Rob encouraged the young folk to create stories and sketches based on their own experiences of growing up in Aberdeen...and it grew into an epic tail of secret rowie-recipes, local politics, revenge, crackens under the sea, and crazed zombie seagulls.....of course it did!!
 


 
What a RIOT :-)
 
Then, after a wee lie-down (phew!) the crew did a show in ACT's gorgeous theatre! Wonderful to hear the Doric echoing around that space :-)
 
On Sunday afternoon, Elspeth, Matt, Sheena, and Stage Manager Simon sped off to Torry, for a visit to Balnagask House, a Residential Home for the elderly, where it was a huge privilege to play some music, songs, and swap stories with the residents there. And great that they were up for a sing-song! Many thanks to Julie and the team there for the welcome :-) Several people in our audience were living with dementia, and it was so heartening to see them recall moments in their lives through music. Sheena, after the show, chatted to one lady who had lost the power of speech. Sheena asked her to squeeze her hand if she had enjoyed it, and she gave it a good tight squish!
 


After this lovely wee concert, Simon kindly took the crew to the Torry Battery, to see if we could spy some dolphins at the Bay of Nigg!
 


 
 We were in the midst of a late summer - what sunshine!
 
On Monday, Elspeth, Matt and Mark returned to ACT in the afternoon to work with the senior drama students from Aberdeen Grammar School and Kincorth Academy, and also the HND students from North East Scotland College. It was a fruitful and inspiring afternoon of exercises, exploration, and devising - we were so impressed by the imagination and daring of all the young thesps! After sharing the work created that afternoon for eachother, the group was treated to a tour of the SpectreTown set! Matt Regan took them through all the gadgets at his on-stage sound station, and answered questions on how he'd gone about creating the score for the show. Lastly, our Production Manager Susan Martin gave a talk on working backstage in theatre, and the various routes available to those with an interest in this. She's also a wizard with lighting, is our Susan, so it was great to see the young folks asking questions about the lighting design and how that works on the road. Pics off this lovely afternoon to follow - big thanks to the tutors for bringing their classes to hang out with us for the day :-)
 
On Monday night, we had a huge audience at ACT for our performance - and what an atmosphere! It was the first time we'd had so many teenagers in the house, and it made for an amazing show. here's hoping we can show it to many more school and college students along the way! It must've set their brains firing, because in our post-show talk there was a flurry of questions from our eager audience...here's Mark Wood demonstrating some of the techniques used in rehearsal for getting under the skin of the text in the play...
 
 
We'd like to send a BIG THANK YOU to Aberdeen City Council, North East Arts Touring, and ACT Aberdeen for so generously supporting this brilliant weekend of activities and performances in the city! Big thanks too to Paula at ACT for all her wonderful work making it happen - what a force of nature!
 
 
Aw...thanks ACT!

 
Actors gettin' ready at ACT!
 
So after a jam-packed 3 days in Aberdeen, it was back down to the central belt for a wee rest, then on Thursday we arrived at Platform in Easterhouse for our only Glasgow date. We hadn't ever been to this building - and what a place. So full of energy, colour, light, and wonderful people!
 

 
We were wondering how our Doric play would go down with the Easterhouse/Glasgow crowd - and they loved it! Lots of laughs and a great reception :-) Massive thank you to Matt and all the team at Platform for having us. All power to your theatre, music, community-building, performance-making arms!
 
Platform Brochure - go check them out!
 
And yesterday - it was off to Crieff for our first village hall show - at the beautiful Strathearn Arts Space.
 
Our get-in was pretty funny...a treacherous walk across the A85 to get from van to door....luckily our mannequin Pam and Matt Regan made good lollypop men....

And a lovely piece in the local paper!

 
Susan and Simon had their work cut-out, fitting up and lighting the space, but it was worth it as the show looked beautiful, and what a resonance the cast had to play with in the hall :-) The audience were so engaged and responsive - we love getting up close and personal in village halls! Big thank you to David for all his help - this arts space has everything, from Life-drawing to Yoga to art installations to stand-up to theatre - a great asset to the area :-) And we were THRILLED to have the lovely Cabinet Minister Roseannah Cunningham, who Tweeted us after - magic!
  
 

And today we head to The Brunton Theatre in Mussleburgh - off to the seaside we go! It might be grey and rainy, but we shan't be kept from our 99 cone! Looking forward to meeting our audience tonight, and we'll post some more pics from the road this week - as we head to St. Andrews, Inverness, Fife, and spend our last few days of the tour with the good people of the rural North East thanks to North East Arts Touring - canna wait min :-)

Stoirm Òg xxx

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