Our Autumn Programme Recap!

As we have come to the end of our August to November Arts Live programme we would like to take some time to reflect on the fantastic events that we have had throughout Dumfries and Galloway this Autumn.

Bush by Alice Mary Cooper

Kick starting our autumn programme was Alice Mary Cooper with her fantastic one-woman show Bush. In this performance, Alice recalled the inspiring true story of thirteen, 1970’s ‘housewives’ who battled for ten years to save bushland in her native Sydney – starting a nationwide movement of Green Bans, protecting land and the natural environment from destruction across Australia. This event took place at the Crichton gardens, Gracefield Arts Centre and at Market Hill at Castle Douglas. Audiences enjoyed the performances, with one audience member commenting that the show was “Absolutely fabulous! Funny & thought provoking”.

Magnetic North presents Lost in Music

Our second event took place at the Theatre Royal when Magnetic North brought their show Lost in Music to Dumfries and Galloway in September. Lost in Music is a gig-theatre show inspired by the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, fusing live music, storytelling and micro-cinema. Lost in Music featured a group of local young musicians who applied to be a part of the performance. The performers were James Jones, Shaunie Craig, Oliver Twynolm, Rory Buglass and Sonny Riddell. The young musicians were involved in a series of workshops with the cast, and wrote a unique song especially for the Dumfries performance. One of the young musicians, Oliver Twynolm, said the following about the experience:

 I was new to musical theatre, but I was delighted to discover that my experiences of music and performing still fitted well.  I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and working together with other local talent, as there have not been the opportunities to do this recently.  During the workshops, we were able to improvise and put together our own musical creation – when we got to perform this it really felt like it was our own work, not just a piece of music that had been given to us.  Meeting the cast was great – it was lovely to learn about their experiences as professional musicians and to perform with them was an incredible experience which I will cherish forever.

Lost in Music was a great success and provided opportunities for young people in the region to be involved in the arts, and to work with a professional touring company. As we look forward to next year’s programme, we will continue to provide more opportunities for young people in the region.

549: Scots of the Spanish Civil War by Wonder Fools

As part of October’s performances Dumfries and Galloway saw three shows by Wonder Fools called 549: Scots of the Spanish Civil War. The first two performances took place at Castle Douglas Town Hall, and the last performance took place at Moffat Town Hall. This show had excellent engagement at all three performances and sold out at the last show in Moffat.

549 explored the stories of the Scottish volunteers who were involved in the war, focussing on four miners from Prestonpans who fought as part of the international brigade. The story began in 2022 in Prestonpans Labour Club where four millennials are told about George Watters, Jock Gilmour,
Jimmy Kempton and Bill Dickson travelling to Spain to fight for a cause they believed in. As the play progressed the four millennials enacted the story, becoming the four miners, and transporting themselves and the audience from the mines of East Lothian, across the mountains of the Pyrenees, to the frontline in
Spain. The four learn about the history of their forefathers and values that will inspire their actions for years to come.

In response to the archive Wonder Fools created about the 549 volunteers alongside this production, show that linked to Dumfries and Galloway, research was undertaken by our intern Erin about links from people in Dumfries and Galloway to local people who fought in the war, and can be read about HERE.

Performance Collective Stranraer presents Unsupervised Adulting

The second October performance that took place across the region was Unsupervised Adulting by Performance Collective Stranraer. This fun-filled show took its audiences on a journey without any spoken word, using dance, expression, and physical comedy to create a heart-warming story that was filled with awesome music. The first night of this performance took place at Brigend Theatre in Dumfries, the second performance took place at the CatStrand New Galloway, and was filmed for online audiences, and the final performance took place at Stranraer Millennium Centre. An audience member said the following about the show:

“The show was amazing! The choreography was insane and it was incredibly entertaining to watch. It’s a great way for people to forget about their problems and absorb themselves among the silly shenanigans that happen in the performance. It’s a great reminder that people (especially adults) are allowed to have fun and enjoy themselves no matter what age they are[…]”

Jordan & Skinner present The Time Machine

The final show that took place as part of our Autumn programme was The Time Machine by Jordan & Skinner. The performance took place at the CatStrand in New Galloway and saw audiences enjoy a night of feminist dystopian theatre.

The Time Machine is a radical feminist reimagining of H.G. Wells’ science fiction classic, and is told by a group of female and non-binary people who are waiting for the world to end whilst pondering where it all went wrong for ‘mankind’. The show covered important topics such as human evolution, survival and the complex themes that surround those subjects all whilst retaining moments of fun.

Audience members noted that the performance “Was amazing! Really good show” and that it was “freaking powerful! So witty!”.

As well as this performance, Jordan & Skinner hosted a Devising Physical Theatre Workshop also at the CatStrand. Melanie from Jordan & Skinner led those attending the workshop through an accessible introduction to the process of exploring themes, developing characters and shaping these into stories for the stage.