Bennachie to take centre stage in new play
It will be performed in the Garioch Heritage Centre in July this year by Mitchell School of Drama who are marking their 40th anniversary this year.
Written by award-winning writer Alan Bissett, the play tells the story of the Bennachie Colonists – the 19th Century landless who carved out a living on the slopes of the hill before being forced out when land owners took over their properties.
Performed in English and Doric dialect by a cast of sixteen young people who live in and around Inverurie, this will be a fabulous celebration of local history and language.
The play will be directed by experienced theatre-maker Rhona Mitchell – many of the cast are part of Mitchell School of Drama – with musical direction by Alisdair Sneden.
Writer Alan Bissett said: “The story of the Bennachie Colonists was a new one for me, but it's clearly an important one to many people in North East of Scotland and I love nothing more than bringing local, historical stories - which might not have reached national attention - to life in a way that makes them engaging for a modern audience.
"I have tried to convey the sweep of the Colonists' lives - their presence on the hill spanned over a hundred years, after all - showing their struggles to maintain their freedom and way of life in the face of rapacious greed from landowners.
"I can't wait for Aberdeenshire audiences to see the Colonists come back to life for an hour and half to tell their fascinating story."
Rhona Mitchell of Mitchell School of Drama said: “This is an ambitious and exciting.
"The young cast are enjoying finding ways to bring the story to life and do justice to the lives of the Bennachie Colonists.
"We hope that local audiences are going to respond really well to this drama with music. It has been great finding out about the Colonists from members of the Bailies and working with Alan Bissett to bring the tale to the stage.”
Chair of the Bailies, Peter Stock, said: “The story of the Bennachie Colonists has been brought to light over the last few decades by efforts of the Bailies.
"Excavation of their homes and research into family history has thrown new light into this important and dramatic episode of local history.
"We are delighted to partner with Alan Bisset and Rhona Mitchell to tell this story in a different way to a new audience.”
Performances of The Hill that was a Home will take place at the Garioch Heritage Centre, Inverurie, from 5 - 9 July. Tickets cost £12/£8.
The Bailies of Bennachie were formed in 1973 by people who loved the hill range and wanted both to look after it, and find out more about the flora and fauna, history and culture of this unique landscape.
Fifty years on the Bailies are still 'The Voice of the Hill' - advocating for the interests of Bennachie.
Visit www.bailiesofbennachie.co.uk to find out more.