Published: 16/09/2015 16:05 - Updated: 16/09/2015 16:14

Forres folk help professionals tell town stories

Dircetor Simon Sharkey
Dircetor Simon Sharkey

PROFESSIONAL actors and theatre makers are helping the people of Moray tell their own stories as part of the Forres Culture Day on Saturday 26th April.

To Begin..., which will be performed at the Royal British Legion at 1.30pm and 7pm, is a theatrical experience created by the National Theatre of Scotland (NTS) and the local community and inspired by real-life local stories.

The professional cast will be joined by members of the local community for a total cast some 30 strong.

"To Begin... has been quite a journey," director Simon Sharkey said.

"We started out with a simple plan to collect stories about significant journeys from the people of Forres, and to turn them into a piece of theatre to be shared with all the community.

"Like most journeys, the wonderful twists, turns, detours and crossroads we have taken, and the people we have met along the way, have made it a magical and memorable experience.

"I have been amazed how open and welcoming people have been. I have been moved to tears and laughter with some of the stories told to us. I would like to thank everyone we met for sharing their story and making us welcome. I’d like to apologise that we couldn’t include all the stories— we would be here for weeks if we were to do them all justice."

The NTS, which has previously staged local performances at the Benromach Distillery in Forres, among the ruins of Elgin Cathedral and inside a 1920s Spiegeltent, began collecting stories in May.

Some of the locals who shared these stories will take to the stage, to perform alongside professional cast members Lewis Howden (Taggart, Rebus), John Kielty (Outlander, River City), Fletcher Mathers (Whisky Galore, Macbeth) and Frances Thorburn (The Tin Forest, Glasgow Girls). The community cast includes the Sounds Deep Male Voice Choir and pupils from Forres Academy.

To Begin... was originally inspired by Scottish Book Trust’s Journeys project, inviting people across the country to write short stories about the physical and emotional journeys they have taken.

The result is described as a theatrical how-to-guide to making life’s journeys, including tales of birth, death, triumph, disaster, love, adventure, football, friendship, planes, trains, automobiles and spaceships.

Scottish Book Trust head of reader development, Philippa Cochrane, said her organisation was delighted to be working in collaboration with the National Theatre of Scotland on this fascinating project.

"We know that Scots like to travel and always have, so we hope that this project will generate lots of personal stories about journeys that are notable in some way," she added.

"These might include real journeys, good, bad, funny or touching, or stories in turn about internal journeys of health or transformation.

"Scottish Book Trust will gather a selection of stories into a book, to be distributed during Book Week Scotland 2015. It will no doubt create a fascinating picture of many different journeys taken by the people of Scotland, and the lasting effects those experiences have had on their lives."

Findhorn Bay Arts director, Kresanna Aigner, says she cannot wait to hear and see the stories that will emerge from the local community.

"Culture Day 2015 will provide an ideal platform to showcase some fascinating tales about journeys that members of our community have embarked on," she said.

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