“OOT dampnit spat.” So says Lady Macbeth, or Gruoch, in MacBeth in Scots, the production by Edinburgh Theatre Arts, the amateur company founded in the city in the 1940s.
The Scotsman’s drama critic, Joyce McMillan, has praised the show’s “simple, austere design and a range of performances of great concentration and dignity”. Now ETA has won the ultimate accolade – being invited to perform it in Stratford-upon-Avon, before an audience of more than 1,000, at the invitation of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Playing Gruoch, the Scottish queen who inspired Lady Macbeth, is Edith Peers, a retail manager in Portobello. “It’s been her life’s dream to play it on the RSC stage,” says her husband Simon, the company’s publicity manager.
“It’s like going to Wembley, or Wimbledon, or Gleneagles if you are a golfer.”
Simon, English by origin and accent, is playing young Siward, the son of an English lord. “I’m not Scottish, and I get five lines and I get to die. It’s my usual role,” he says. (“You lie detested tyrant, with my sword I will make it true,” Siward declares, before he gets the chop from Macbeth.)
In a selection process overseen by the National Theatre of Scotland, ETA was picked from a field of about 20 Scottish contenders, Peers says. “It’s a real achievement for everybody concerned. I think it’s passion, we have all been very passionate about it. We want it to succeed.”
The full two-hour version of MacBeth In Scots, translated by Robin Lorimer, is playing for two weeks during the Fringe at St Ninians Hall in Comely Bank Road (Venue 230). Danny Farrimond, who works for the Scottish Government, plays the lead.
The version going to Stratford, for a single performance at RSC’s Courtyard Theatre on 14 July as part of this year’s World Shakespeare Festival lasts just 90 minutes. Severed scenes include one in which Macduff and Malcolm discuss their plans for dispatching Macbeth, and others involving the company’s two child actors, who are will be holiday in Canada.
“It’s a very, very faithful translation,” says Peers. “At most English schools you have to study Shakespeare, and sometimes I didn’t understand a bloody word of it.
“It’s actually easier to understand in Scots. It really adds to a lot of excitement in the whole thing, it makes it more real, in a strange way.”
Amateur theatre is in danger of dying off in England, he says, with the commitment of two rehearsals a week putting a lot of working people off. It appears to be thriving in Edinburgh, however, with nine or ten amateur dramatic companies, though musical theatre shows pull in the biggest audiences.
ETA, with a company of roughly 40, does mostly straight drama, along with a Burns Night engagement at the Scottish Malt Whisky Society in Leith, where they have been the live performance for the last six or seven years.
Waiting for Godot has been among their most successful productions, along with A Tale of Two Cities, and Steel Magnolias. ETA’s chairman, John McLinden, a retired personnel chief at Standard Life, is credited as an inspiration, though Mike Duffy is director of MacBeth in Scots.
Images of Islam
Prizes worth about £1,500, plus an all-expenses paid jaunt to Edinburgh, are on offer for photographs that best capture the flavour of Islamic life in Scotland.
The Islam in Scotland photography competition is run by the HRH Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World, at the University of Edinburgh.
Entries are invited that “capture the essence of Scottish Islam and advance knowledge and understanding of Islam” across the country.
With a closing date at the end of September, there are prizes of up to £500 for adults and under-18s. Pictures must be taken in Scotland, and entry to the competition is free.
The competition will be judged by Peter Sanders, who began his career in the mid-1960s capturing rock musicians like Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and The Who, and went on to photograph the Hajj pilgrimage.
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a grandson of the founder of Saudi Arabia, and one of the world’s richest men, donated £8 million to set up the Edinburgh University Centre in 2008.
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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