Falkirk canal tunnel to host Burke and Hare play

Burke and Hare worked on the Union Canal before turning to murder. Picture: Scottish Canals
Burke and Hare worked on the Union Canal before turning to murder. Picture: Scottish Canals
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A play about Burke and Hare is to be performed in the Union Canal tunnel in Falkirk canal tunnel following an upgrade to its lighting system.

The Scottish Canals announcement confirms an exclusive story in The Scotsman on the plans in December.

The 630 metre-long tunnel will become a "pop-up" theatre venue for the productions in August about canal builders-turned-murderers William Burke and William Hare.

They moved from Ireland to work as navvies on the Union Canal between Falkirk and Edinburgh between 1818 and 1822, then turned to killing to earn money by providing fresh corpses for medical experimentation at Edinburgh University.

BACKGROUND: Falkirk Tunnel project to throw new light on Burke and Hare http://www.scotsman.com/news/transport/falkirk-tunnel-project-to-throw-new-light-on-burke-and-hare-1-4312655
The Resurrection will be the first production by Canal Theatre, a collaboration between Scottish Canals and Argyll-based The Walking Theatre Company.

The production will use the tunnel's new programmable LED lighting system, which highlights its historic features, such as candle holders, stalactites, dynamite stores and shafts.

Margaret Hare and William Burke will be the tunnel's tour guides in The Resurrection. Picture: Scottish Canals

Margaret Hare and William Burke will be the tunnel's tour guides in The Resurrection. Picture: Scottish Canals

Scottish Canals said it could also be used to provide seasonal themes, such as at Halloween.

Scottish Canals chief executive Steve Dunlop said: “The Falkirk Tunnel is one of the most atmospheric and eerie sites on Scotland’s canals.

"We’re delighted to be able to bring one of its many stories to life with this unique pop-up theatre production in the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

“We look forward to welcoming our guests to the tunnel this summer. but that welcome comes with a warning.

The tunnel's new LED lighting system. Picture: Scottish Canals

The tunnel's new LED lighting system. Picture: Scottish Canals

"Whether it’s the change in temperature, the perpetual darkness, the sound of whispers from across the water, or the gruesome tale itself, The Resurrection is not for the faint of hearted."

Sadie Dixon-Spain, playwright and artistic director at The Walking Theatre Company, said: “Walking along the edge of the Union Canal, through the wet crystalline walls of the Falkirk Tunnel, you are immediately struck by the magnitude of the structure.

"The sheer depth and length is breathtaking.

“As a writer, to have the opportunity to use this landscape as inspiration for a site-specific play is extraordinary.

The Falkirk Tunnel is the longest and oldest canal tunnel in Scotland. Picture: Scottish Canals

The Falkirk Tunnel is the longest and oldest canal tunnel in Scotland. Picture: Scottish Canals

"A more unusual site for theatre you would be hard-pushed to find.

Tickets for the perfomances from Friday, 4 August are available from www.canaltheatre.co.uk

The tunnel's new lighting system may be used for seasonal themes, such as Halloween. Picture: Scottish Canals

The tunnel's new lighting system may be used for seasonal themes, such as Halloween. Picture: Scottish Canals