Rocket Post scientist whose dreams fell apart above the Western Isles to inspire new stage play

The bizarre true-life story of a German scientist and his ill-fated attempts to launch a rocket-based postal service in the Western Isles in 1934 is to be brought to the stage by the National Theatre of Scotland.

The story of the failed "Rocket Post" air-mail service is one of the most bizarre stories to emerge from the Western Isles.
The story of the failed "Rocket Post" air-mail service is one of the most bizarre stories to emerge from the Western Isles.

The new production will relive how Gerhard Zucker saw his plans to deliver rockets full of letters between the islands of Scarp and Harris literally go up in smoke.

Rocket Post, which will be aimed at children and families, is being billed by NTS as “equal parts play, gig and hoedown.”

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The show, which is being created by the theatre-maker Lewis Hetherington, will be premiered at the An Lanntair arts centre in Stornoway in September before embarking on a nationwide tour.

A spokeswoman for NTS said: “Full of humour, heart and hope for the future, Rocket Post is a tale of miscommunication, vaulting ambition and the joyous discoveries that can happen when everything goes wrong.

Rocket Post also playfully tells an extraordinary real story, celebrating one man’s ambitious endeavour and how an island community responded.”

Rocket Post is expected to be one of the highlights of the company’s 2017 programme, which has been overseen by interim chief executive Lucy Mason since the resignation of artistic director Laurie Sansom in the spring. His recently-announced replacement, Jackie Wylie, is not due to start in the post until March.

Other productions in the new line-up include a one-woman show inspired by the Dundonian actor and writer Jaimimi Jethwa’s real-life experience of being brought up in Scotland after her family were forced to flee Uganda in the 1970.

NTS is also creating a show inspired by the final journey of a “midget submarine” along the Forth and Clyde Canal in 1957, close to Rockvilla, the company’s new waterside home north of the M8 motorway, which is due to be officially opened in January.

Theatre-maker Cora Bissett, whose previous shows include Glasgow Girls, Grit and Roadkill will join forces with singer-songwriter Kathryn Joseph to adapt the best-selling novelling Room, two years after a feature film adaptation was nominated for four Oscars.

Ms Mason said: "The National Theatre of Scotland embarks on its second decade in a brand new building - Rockvilla - designed specifically to facilitate artists, theatre-makers, technicians and communities in the development and creation of new theatre for audiences across Scotland.

"Much of the new season will be rehearsed in Rockvilla before embarking on journeys further afield. The company has also begun collaborations with a number of new partners and artists in order to ensure that this 'engine room' for Scottish theatre is used to its maximum potential.

"This season of work would not be possible without the real people at the heart of these stories, and the many artists and partners with whom we are collaborating to bring their stories to life. We extend our thanks to all those who have contributed to the creation and production of this exciting line-up."