AS one of the Highlands’ most successful acting exports, Jimmy Yuill’s career has taken him around the world from the West End to Broadway and even Hawaii.
Now living back in his home town of Golspie, Yuill is hoping to help giver younger acting talent from the north a break as with a new play from Eden Court, Never Land, written by Elgin actress, musician, writer and journalist Morna Young.
The play will tour across Scotland in October, but first needs to find four young actors, two male and two female, to join a yet to be cast Scottish veteran.
In keeping with the aim of developing Highland talent, the production is specifically looking for actors from or living in the Highlands and Islands who have graduated within the last five years.
"I started in 1976 and you realise, if you come from an area where there is no tradition of theatre, that you have to work a lot harder," Yuill said.
"I don’t think that’s changed now. I came home six years ago to live and it’s just the same."
Yuill’s own acting career has ranged from the Royal Shakespeare Company to EastEnders, although to television viewers he will probably be most familiar as Inspector Doug Kersey in Cornish set detective series Wycliffe and, closer to home, as Lachie in Hamish Macbeth.
A long-term collaborator of Kenneth Branagh both on stage and in film, he is teaming up with Sir Kenneth again for another Macbeth as they take "the Scottish play" to New York.
Yuill plays Banquo, and yes, Banquo will have a Sutherland accent.
"The Highland accent alone, you still hardly ever hear it," Yuill said.
"We had to hide it, especially in our own country. When I went to London to start with, people thought I was Irish.
"But we need to look to the future. There’s a university coming up now and I think there’s a drama department in that, Eden Court are doing fantastic stuff, and what we need to do is produce stuff from our area."
Yuill has found that in the new play from Young, who also co-wrote B-Roads, part of the Play Pieces lunchtime theatre series.
"I don’t want us saying: ‘Ochone! Ochone! Look at the glens...’ There’s been enough of that. I want to look to the future and have something with universal themes," Yuill said.
"Morna came up with this idea of Never Land, which is the place between life and death. I had meningitis when I was young and actually died twice. I told Morna about it and she came back with this great idea about a young person who tries to end it and comes across this older man who has a parallel with her."
Yuill and Young have developed the play alongside John Cairns, who directed Eden Court’s Para Handy, but it will be Yuill who takes the director’s chair.
Yuill admits he has limited directing experience, but it will put his young cast among some impressive company.
His previous experience of directing was at the RSC with Sheila Hancock and Dexter Fletcher — now a director himself with the film version of Sunshine on Leith to his credit.
More recently Yuill has bee a performance consultant on big budget films such as Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit with Chris Pine, Keira Knightley and Kevin Costner and the forthcoming live action Cinderella starring Cate Blanchett, Derek Jacobi and Richard Madden, both directed by Kenneth Branagh.
"On Jack Ryan, because Kenneth Branagh was starring and directing, he asked me in to be his eyes and ears, which I can only take as a great complement," Yuill explained.
"I’m looking forward to getting back on the directing horse. I’m hoping to learn from it myself."
• Auditions for Never Land will take place at Eden Court on Friday 27th June 2014.
Any young actors or stage managers interested should send their CV and headshot to firstname.lastname@example.org