Published: 23/06/2014 14:18 - Updated: 04/07/2014 18:09

Highland dramas go live for Five Minute Theatre

Terry Langdale from Strathpeffer.
Terry Langdale from Strathpeffer.

JUST over 20 Culloden Academy pupils, two Ross-shire performers and one from Inverness will be among 840  featuring on a 24-hour live online screening of a National Theatre of Scotland short drama extravaganza today (Monday).

The Dance Of Don’t Know by Inverness writer and playwright Jennifer Morag Henderson explores how young people will be voting for the first time, using theatre – and ceilidh dancing.

It’s one of many North dramas which have been chosen for the Great Yes, No, Don’t Know, Five Minute Theatre Show event.

The Inverness Play Pieces organisation – which produces new contemporary writing from the Highlands – has three performances as part of the drama event.

As well as the Culloden piece, Terry Langdale from Strathpeffer digs a hole in his garden and asks Independence, can you dig it?, while Jenna Watt – originally from Inverness – looks to the future of Scotland from the foot of the Duke of Sutherland’s statue on Ben Bhraggie, Golspie, with Futurology: A Scotland Where streaming live between 10 and 11pm on Monday (June 23).

The only performance of the day in Gaelic will be performed by Dingwall Gaelic singer Fiona J Mackenzie, who presents her pre-recorded five-minute drama/song, An Drochaid – The Bridge, from Skye. The piece commemorates Scotland’s best-known female bard, Mairi Mhor nan Oran.

And Thurso Drama Club's Should I Stay Or Should I Go? will be screened on Tuesday morning between 8am and 9am.

Inverness writer Jennifer Morag Henderson explained what her five-minute play is about.

"It’s on the idea of ‘don’t know’, and features a cast of about 20 school pupils from my own former school, Culloden Academy.

"There’s also live music (provided by the pupils) and ceilidh dancing.

"The idea is that a new boy at the school is taking part in a ceilidh dance class, as part of PE, and has no idea what he’s doing.

"It’s an abstract way of looking at how people (especially first-time voters, like the pupils) can feel about making a decision in the referendum, with the new boy lost in a confusing (and very Scottish) situation.

"It’s being filmed in the school’s own theatre and we’ve been rehearsing all this week, with the final show on Monday."

The Dance Of The Don’t Know will be live online in the second half of the 24-hour screening with the NTS, between 11am and noon on Tuesday (June 24) at http://fiveminutetheatre.com/

In Terry Langdale’s piece entitled Independence, can you dig it?, he tries to dig a hole in his Strathpeffer garden before lots of other people get involved in a Yes, No debate.

Fiona Mackenzie and cast with the balloon and chair props.
Fiona Mackenzie and cast with the balloon and chair props.

Fiona Mackenzie – who was asked to contribute something in Gaelic – said: "The quickest way of getting a message across in Gaelic as far as I am concerned is through a song. The theme is independence and what immediately came to my mind was

Mairi Mhor nan Oran because of her fight for the land of Skye for the crofters."

Fiona chose The Fairy Bridge on Skye where she sings The Misty Isle (Eilean A Cheo) to revisit the scene where the bardess sang to the people.

"Big Mary of the Songs was arguably Scotland’s first female freedom fighter and it’s probably still Scotland’s most powerful yet largely untold story outside of Gaeldom," said Fiona.

"The weather was atrocious on the day we were filming the piece, but the mist made it all seem very authentic.

"I don’t want to give too much away about the piece, but there are just two props – a wheelchair and a balloon.

"If I had sung the whole song we would have been there for three hours – so I just sang three verses!"

The National Theatre of Scotland’s Great Yes, No, Don’t Know, Five Minute Theatre Show has been created to allow people to discuss what independence means to them.

It’s being performed across Scotland, the UK, the world and the web, streaming live.

As well as watching online via www.fiveminutetheatre.com, audiences will also be able to watch some live performances at "hubs" including Eden Court.

Terry Langdale was encouraged to submit something for the NTS dramas by Lindsay Brown of Play Pieces.

After taking part in Five Minute Theatre in 2011, Terry created his latest show – which is partly improvised – to start as he digs in his garden. He has a cast that spans a wide age group, from his children to a Ross-shire actress in her 90s.

Terry said: "It starts as I’m digging a hole and Mary McAlpine from Fortrose who is 92 this August is reading pieces out to me from the newspaper.

"Maree Todd – who also appears in my five-minute theatre – was the one who originally suggested I enter this theatre debate.

"My wife Gail did the filming and we had about 50 people turn out for it on the day and everyone enjoyed themselves."

Terry's piece will be screened live between 2pm and 3pm on Tuesday (June 24).

There will also be a BBC Radio Scotland documentary following The Great Yes No Don’t Know Five Minute Theatre Show from the early preparations right up to production day broadcast on July 9 at 1.30pm presented by Edi Stark.

The first Five Minute Theatre happened in 2011 to celebrate NTS’s fifth birthday,

You can watch all the five-minute theatre shows online via www.fiveminutetheatre.com from Monday at 5pm.

There will be three live pieces on Monday evening, two at Eden Court at 7pm and 7.10pm - How did we get to where we are and where do we go from here? Part 1 How did we get to where we are and where do we go from here? Part 2, plus a piece in Sutherland, at 7.50pm - The Giant Whose Heart Was Outside Portskerra. For details of the performances at Eden Court, go to their website: www.eden-court.co.uk

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