Soil and Soul
Alastair McIntosh’s acclaimed book Soil and Soul is a vivid, inspirational account of how his 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.
sruth-mara is developing a theatre adaptation with leading Scottish playwright Alan Bissett. Following an initial research trip to Lewis in June 2018, Alan has now completed a first draft of the script, and we’re delighted to announce that we’ve secured further support from Creative Scotland and An Lanntair to do a second development week, with a script-in-hand, work in progress performance on the opening night of Faclan: the Hebridean Book Festival following rehearsals at our studio space in Uig. The cast will include folk musician Mairi Campbell and the show will be directed by Laura Cameron-Lewis. Please join us afterwards for a lively discussion with Alastair, Alan and the creative team.
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 very grateful to Faclan for giving us the perfect opportunity to share it with a Hebridean audience and get their feedback – all of which will be a vital part of the development process.
Supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland.
Withered Hand (residency and live show)
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.
Juliana Capes (residency)
Aras Nam Fir Chlis, October 2018
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
Kirsty 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.
Alan Bissett: Soil & Soul (script development)
An Lanntair, 14 July 2018, and in residence in Uig, 12-14 July
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)
Beldina, Mairi and Anna in rehearsal 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 is 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.
Anna Porubcansky, Mairi Morrison and Beldina Odenyo at Uig Community Centre
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. Feedback from audiences during this process was incredibly positive, and Julia is now working towards a touring production in 2019.