Oir Nan Speur | The Edge of the Sky

Oir Nan Speur | The Edge of the Sky is a bilingual theatrical adaptation, in Gaelic and English, of Roberto Trotta’s acclaimed short book, in which the Italian astrophysicist tells the history of the Universe in only the 1000 most commonly used words in the English language.

The project had its first public performance at An Lanntair on Friday 18 February 2022 as part of the Hebridean Dark Skies Festival, and we are now developing towards a full production.

Adapted and directed by Laura Cameron-Lewis, and starring Elspeth Turner and Daibhidh Walker.

As part of the project, sruth-mara commissioned Peter MackayElspeth Turner and Rody Gorman to create new pieces of writing in Gaelic, each inspired by Roberto Trotta’s book and, wherever possible, restricting themselves to only the 1000 most commonly used words in Gaelic. The commissions were supported by funding from Bòrd Na Gàidhlig.

Roberto and Laura discuss the project in this podcast for the Hebridean Dark Skies Festival.

The Edge of the Sky | Oir Nan Speur is supported by Creative Scotland and Bòrd na Gàidhlig.

A Hebridean Happening for John McGrath

John McGrath event poster

On 22 January 2022 we hosted an online event to mark the 20th anniversary of John McGrath’s death. We revisited McGrath’s 1969 play Random Happenings in the Hebrides, with rehearsed readings of four scenes by John Stahl, Jane Paton, Laura Cameron-Lewis and Daibhidh Walker, and insights from writer, broadcaster, actor and former 7:84 cast member Dolina Maclennan, Scotsman theatre critic Joyce McMillan, playwright Alan Bissett and surprise special guest Richard Eyre, who directed the original production at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in 1969.

Thanks to Kate McGrath and the estate of John McGrath for allowing us to do this event.

Move ~ Gluasad

Kinloch Community Hub, Monday 27 January 2020
Carloway Community Centre, Wednesday 29 January 2020
Uig Community Centre, Thursday 30 January 2020
Back Football and Recreation Club, Friday 31 January 2020

Copyright Alicia Bruce

Move~Gluasad by Julia Taudevin premiered at community centres across Lewis in January 2020 as a co-production between sruth-mara and Disaster Plan, a new company set up by Julia and her partner Kieran Hurley. Following its Lewis dates it was also staged at Platform in Easterhouse, Glasgow on the final night of Celtic Connections.

Inspired by ancient keening rituals, Move~Gluasad is a multi-story performance about migration, loss and the common human experience of grief. Weaving multi-lingual storytelling, choral soundscape and Gaelic song, five women build a picture of the ebb and flow of people across the globe through the ages.

Move Gluasad Nerea Bello PHOTO BY SANDIE MACIVER

The show’s premiere on Lewis followed an initial period of development at Uig Community Centre in June 2018 with three performers, produced by sruth-mara.

The Uig Community Centre performance in January 2020 had a four-star review in the Guardian. The show was later selected for the Made in Scotland showcase at the Edinburgh Fringe.

The project was supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland, and Bòrd na Gàidhlig, in association with An Lanntair.

‘It’s one of those rare shows that can communicate a specific emotion purely through its theatricality, and the result is, indeed, deeply moving.’The List.

‘It is a production at once rooted and outward looking, unsentimental and sincere, with a sound, if not to die for, then at the very least to be reborn to.’The Guardian.

Soil and Soul – first performance

Development week, Aras Nam Fir Chlis, October 2019
Script-in-hand performance, An Lanntair Wednesday 30 October 2019

Soil and Soul full cast WEB

sruth-mara is currently developing a theatre adaptation of Alastair McIntosh’s acclaimed book Soil and Soul with leading Scottish playwright Alan Bissett. Following an initial research trip to Lewis in June 2018, the latest stage in the project’s development has been a script-in-hand, work in progress performance at An Lanntair on the opening night of Faclan: the Hebridean Book Festival, with Dolina Maclennan, John Stahl, Elspeth Turner, Daibhidh Walker and Mairi Campbell, who is creating the music for the show. The cast was assembled by Laura Cameron-Lewis who has also joined the creative team as director. Rehearsals took place at Aras Nam Fir Chlis in Uig.

Soil and Soul is a vivid, inspirational account of how Alastair’s Lewis upbringing shaped his life’s work as a prominent environmental activist. The book’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 perfect opportunity to share it with a Hebridean audience and get their feedback – all of which has been a vital part of the development process.

Supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland.

Withered Hand (residency and live show)

Aras Nam Fir Chlis, June 2019
Live show, Uig Community Centre, Sat 8 June 2019

Withered Hand in Uig small

Withered Hand is the songwriting output of Dan Willson. A cult figure in the Scottish music scene for ten years, Dan has released two widely acclaimed albums, New Gods (2014) and Good News (2009) and several lo-fi EPs. In June 2019 Dan became sruth-mara’s second musician in residence, taking some time out to work on new songs for his third album and playing a solo show at Uig Community Centre for which audience members travelled from all over Lewis and Harris. Dan is one of our favourite people and it was lovely having him as a house guest for the week. The show was brilliant too.

Withered Hand on stage in Uig

Juliana Capes (residency)

Aras Nam Fir Chlis, October 2018

Juliana Capes in Uig

Juliana Capes is an Edinburgh-based visual artist who makes installations and durational artwork. In October 2018 Juliana was sruth-mara’s first visual artist in residence at our new base in Aird Uig, developing work for 2019 exhibitions at the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh and An Lanntair.

Kirsty Law (residency and live show)

Uig Community Centre, 3-5 September 2018

IMG_0125Kirsty Law at Uig Community Centre

Singer-songwriter Kirsty Law is developing a new piece of work exploring the sense of place found through folksong (particularly when listening to field recordings), and the sense of empowerment that can be found, in an ever-scarier global world, through the sharing of songs and the development of writing in a minority language.

In September 2018 sruth-mara supported a three day residency at Uig Community Centre, during which Kirsty explored her ideas in conversation with people from the area, premiering her new songs as part of a live performance on Wednesday 5 September.

Kirsty draws on Scots musical traditions while frequently collaborating with other artists. Her latest album project Young Night Thought is an audiovisual exploration of the ‘inner child’ concept through folklore, song and film.

Soil & Soul script development

An Lanntair, 14 July 2018, and in residence in Uig, 12-14 July

Alan Bissett at Callanish
Alan Bissett at the famous Callanish stones

Alastair McIntosh’s extraordinary book Soil & Soul describes how his early years as a ghillie on Lewis shaped his life’s work as a prominent land rights activist. sruth-mara is producing a stage adaptation by acclaimed playwright, novelist and performer Alan Bissett. For the project’s first stage of development, Alan spent several days travelling around Lewis, from sruth-mara’s base in Uig, while on the island performing his hit show (More) Moira Monologues.

Alan visited the Callanish stones – which feature on the cover of Alastair’s book – and the Gearrannan blackhouse village, and spoke to numerous  people who know Alastair, his book, and the culture it describes, both privately and publicly at a meet-the-writer event at An Lanntair.

Move ~ Gluasad – development week and work in progress performances

Uig Community Centre, 26-29 June 2018
An Lanntair, Stornoway, Saturday 30 June 2018

Move cast at Uig
Anna Porubcansky, Mairi Morrison and Beldina Odenyo at Uig Community Centre

Move ~ Gluasad is an ambitious new work in Gaelic, English and other languages, by award-winning theatre maker Julia Taudevin, exploring themes of migration and loss: our loss of loved ones, loss of home, loss of identity, loss of faith and loss of empathy for those other than ourselves. In many parts of the world, death is as much women’s responsibility as birth.

In many traditions women are the composers and singers of powerful, sophisticated, mischievous and scathing oral lament poetry, providing a musical and verbal accompaniment to individual and communal grief. We know this in Scotland as keening, or caoineadh.Throughout the show’s development, Julia has been working as a composer and playwright, incorporating musical styles as diverse as Gaelic psalm singing, Swahilli lullabies, and Epirus Polyphony to create a sonic space into which stories of loss and migration are dropped like the ebb and flow of the ocean – a space to celebrate our shared humanity and mourn our losses at a time when insularity and xenophobia are on the rise.

sruth-mara rehearsal pic 1

sruth-mara supported a week of development for the project at Uig Community Centre in June 2018, with performers Anna Porubcansky, Mairi Morrison, and Beldina Odenyo, pictured above, culminating in two work-in-progress performances, at Uig Community Centre and An Lanntair.

Following the incredibly positive feedback from audiences during this process, Julia successfully applied to Creative Scotland to premiere the finished show at four community centres across Lewis in January 2020.

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