Monday, 9 January 2017

'Take your broken heart....'

Happy 2017 :-) Wishing you all good things in life and work this year, and here's hoping we're all feeling strong enough to greet the challenges ahead with hope, love, and solidarity with the oppressed. I started my year by reading 'Fight Like A Girl' by Clementine Ford....this book should be required reading for all genders! Earth-shaking...

'Take your broken heart and make it into art'. RIP Carrie Fisher - thank you for your courage and wisdom. And thank you Meryl Streep for an earth-shattering call to arms for artists at the Golden Globe Awards. Let's get right to it. One way to challenge the kind of hateful polemic becoming all too familiar in our media, on political platforms, and on our streets, is to make art, to make art of quality, power, and truth, and to make it accessible and affordable so that as many people as possible can go and see it, can be faced with challenging questions in a space devoted to letting them ponder them, and can leave a different person from how they entered. I am really excited and inspired at all the great work being made in Scotland just now - it's an intensely complex and wonderful fabric to be a part of.



At the moment I am continuing my development of Buaireas anns an Uisge / Trouble the Water. I was so happy to be named as one of the National Theatre of Scotland's Starter for Ten artists, and used my residency at the brand spanking new Rockvilla to explore some more ideas with an amazing group of artists. Head to the Trouble the Water page for news on this.

This year we're also developing a musical inspired by Aberdeen's Beach Ballroom, and some other things in that fine city. We're hopeful we'll get to spend some more time in the North East soon :-)

As ever, come say hi on Twitter @StoirmOg or @bettywrote

Els xo

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Elspeth shares new Gaelic work in progress, Buaireas anns an Uisge

Hello!

Elspeth here :-) Whilst Stoirm Òg has been busy getting our accounts in (the joys, right?), this January I had the huge privilege of being commissioned to develop an idea by Glasgow Life. My proposal was to explore the possible connection between Gaelic psalm singing and the roots of African American music, focusing on the call and response style of worship found in many churches, past and present. Taking this as a starting point, I began my research in December, then I worked with 2 dancers, 3 actors, a musician, and a sound/video artist for 2 weeks (two of them in America, via Skype!), culminating in a public sharing of some of what we'd explored, at Tramway. Here's some lovely photography by Geewhiz Digital, Glasgow.

Many thanks to all the brilliant artists involved, and to our producer at Glasgow Life, Rona MacDonald.

This was presented by Glasgow Life in association with National Theatre of Scotland, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and the Gaelic Books Council.

You can find out more about the project and the team here.


















Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Happy Holidays!

While we get all our bizniz affairs in order after a busy year with SpectreTown, Elspeth is off beginning development on a new project with Glasgow Life called Buaireas anns an Uisge / Trouble the Water. She's going to be teaming up with our Assistant Director from SpectreTown, Rob Jones, and working with dancers/actors for 2 weeks in January 2016, before presenting a sharing of a work in progress at Tramway, Glasgow. Here's a bit more about the piece so far, below. Stay tuned for more info!

Stoirm Òg xxx




Buaireas anns an Uisge

Aig toiseach na linne seo, 2000, bha Uilleam Ruff, fear ainmeil mar neach-ciùil jazz Amairicanach, ag agairt gu robh mòran de cheòl African-Amairigeanach, gu mòr an crochadh air modh seinn nan salm as na h-Eileannan an Iar, a chaidh tarsainn a'Chuan Mhor nuair a bha am malairt nan tràillean a'tachairt. Is ann do dhualchas Africa-Amearaga a bhuinneas Ruff, is na bharailsan, ‘chan eil a’ bhreug ann an ceòl’ - ged tha e doirbh gabhail ris a-seo; bhon an uairsin chaidh a’chàineadh mar neach-brathaidh do chinneadh. Mas e an fhirinn gu bheil dualchas an latha an diugh air a’ sniomh a beartais is co-ionnanachd a’chinne-daoine, carson a theireamaid gur ann a-mhàin leinn fhein a tha e? Is e seo turas nan òrain is dannsa, a’ rugadh le cràdh an fhulangais, is gu h-aithghearr a dh fhàs gu glaodhaich is casaid.

Trouble the Water

In the early 2000s, eminent American jazz musician Willie Ruff suggested that much of African American music has its roots in the Gaelic psalm singing of the Western Isles, which crossed the Atlantic in the same years as the slave trade. Ruff, an African American, insists that although it’s painful, ‘the music can’t lie’, and he has since been called a traitor, and a puppet of white polemic. If most of contemporary culture is a maelstrom of influences, why do we want to claim ownership of it? This is a journey of dances and songs which begin as cries of suffering, and become the most urgent calls of protest.


Saturday, 31 October 2015

A huge Thank you to Cumbernauld Theatre

We've almost finished wrapping up all of our post-production work following our wonderful run of SpectreTown. Last week we had a fulsome de-brief with the lovely Ed Robson and Tony Cownie from Cumbernauld Theatre - there was a lot to catch up on :-) We are so grateful for the past year and a half we've spent working with Cumbernauld Theatre, growing as a company, and realizing a project with them that was a year and a half in the making.


SpectreTown, 2015. Image by Mihaela Bodlovic.

It is largely due to the faith, support, guidance and encouragement of our host theatre that through all the twists and challenges of producing new work, we were free to create and present the work we felt compelled to make. Once more, a huge thank you to the whole team at Cumbernauld for having us this past year.

If you are interested in applying to be the next Company in Residence at Cumbernauld Theatre, click here. We HIGHLY recommend working with these folks!

In case you haven't seen it yet, have a look at our stunning trailer for SpectreTown, created by Yutsil Martinez and Aaron Cairns. So proud of the show we made :-)

Love, Peace, and a Happy Halloween :-)

Stoirm Òg

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

TOUR COMPLETED!

Massive thank you to all who came out to see SpectreTown on the road! We're knackered :-) and off on a break - see you in October!

Gaol mòr,

Stoirm Òg xxx

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

Thursday, 6 August 2015

SpectreTown hits the Fringe!

Greetings from the Edinburgh Fringe, where SpectreTown had its first preview today at Assembly Hall - woop! A smooth (ish!) get-in, and a lovely first audience - we're very happy :-) Remember we've got some 2-for-1 shows coming up - so grab a pal and come on down!



It's been a belter of a week! Last Friday we had the first of two preview performances at Cumbernauld Theatre. The place was packed both nights, and the people of Cumbernauld loved the show, which was wonderful to hear. One audience member dropped the theatre a line after it...

'My friend and I came to this evening's performance of 'Spectretown' and I felt I just had to write and let the actors, musician and supporting company know how much we enjoyed the experience.

The acting was superb (how the cast remember all the dialogue, and their stage positions, I don't know!), the setting etc. was perfect, the scene and staging atmospheric, the musician invaluable, the acting superb and the story itself intriguing. The whole play was innovative and very cleverly staged and we were riveted all the way through, to the extent that we were sorry when it finished.

Thank you to all involved, and to the Theatre for bringing this production to Cumbernauld.'


We've had some lovely preview pieces come out this past week about the show, too. Gareth Vile published an interview with Elspeth on the writing / dramaturgy of SpectreTown - check it out here - a great insight into the creation of the play. In the North East, the Press and Journal geared up for our visit there in September with a lovely interview with Elspeth, and fellow actor Bridget McCann. And on Monday The Skinny published a really insightful interview with Elspeth on Stoirm Òg's journey so far - read it here! Oh, and the lovely folks at The Scots Language Centre published a piece on the play too - a great read :-)

Right, enough bletherin' fae us! Time to get some kip ahead of tomorrow's second preview - hope to see you all at Assembly over the coming weeks!

Stoirm Òg xxx