Soil & Soul

Soil & Soul is a vivid, inspirational book by Alastair McIntosh describing how Alastair’s early years as a ghillie on Lewis shaped his life’s work as a prominent land rights activist. In 2018 sruth-mara began developing an ambitious stage version of the book with a script by playwright and novelist Alan Bissett.

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As part of his research, Alan travelled around Lewis in July 2018 from sruth-mara’s base in Timsgarry, visiting the places described in Alastair’s book and talking to various people with knowledge of the book, its writer, and the culture Soil & Soul describes. Following this early period of development, we staged a first ‘work in progress’ performance at An Lanntair in October 2019 on the opening night of Faclan: the Hebridean Book Festival, directed by Laura Cameron-Lewis, with Dolina Maclennan, John Stahl, Elspeth Turner and Daibhidh Walker and music by Mairi Campbell. Rehearsals took place at Aras Nam Fir Chlis in Uig.

Soil and Soul full cast WEB

While the project’s progress was slowed down by the Covid-19 lockdown, we hope to stage a full production in the near future.

‘The audience response has been overwhelming. Several people said to me how important this is for the island and a wider Scotland today…. that only now, all these years down the line, are people ready for a deeper cultural appreciation of it all.’ Alastair McIntosh on Soil and Soul’s first performance.

Soil and Soul‘s admirers include Thom Yorke of Radiohead, journalist and activist George Monbiot, who has called it “a world-changing book”, and Ricky Ross of Deacon Blue, who has described Alastair as “a living prophet”. The Sunday Herald likened Soil and Soul to Naomi Klein’s international bestseller No Logo.

We’re really excited about this project, delighted to be making it here on Lewis (following Alastair’s wise advice to ‘dig where you stand’), and grateful to An Lanntair for giving us the opportunity to share it with a Hebridean audience and get their feedback – all of which has been a vital part of the development process.

Soil & Soul is supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland, and An Lanntair.

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