Impact of men’s shed movement inspires Edinburgh Festival Fringe play
Now the growing popularity of “men's shed” social hubs in communities across Scotland has provided the impetus for a major new stage play.
Man Shed is inspired by the impact of communal spaces created across Scotland in recent years to allow men to socialise while sharing skills they have developed.
The Scottish Men’s Shed Association says more than 120 are running, with 70 more in development and around 10,000 active “shedders”.
Starring Ron Emslie, the play, created by Moray-based Right Lines Productions, will explore how men can find a purpose when they grow old and “major life events come thick and fast”.
The men's shed movement, which encourages the use of different spaces in local communities, has been championed by charities like Age Concern for creating safe new social spaces for men “with time on their hands”.
The sheds are aimed at offering men an alternative to spending time in their own garden sheds, while encouraging them to discuss any physical and mental health concerns.
The stage production – selected for a showcase at the Pleasance of new theatre from across the UK – is billed as “a bittersweet one-man theatre piece, which explores the joy of sheds, the pain of loss and the comfort of friendship”.
Writer Euan Martin, who works from a shed in his garden in Forres, said: “Men’s sheds are really for people who are older, retired, at a loose end and not really sure what they’re doing with their lives.
“They’ve maybe been working all their lives and their work has been their main focus, but all of a sudden are not working and don’t really know what to do.
“They often have great skills and the idea of the men’s sheds is to give them a social centre.
“Some of the men who have gone along to them have told me that there can be a real danger of slipping into drinking or eating too much if they are not actually engaging with people. Men are also generally very poor at discussing their problems, ailments and other issues, but if they’ve something to work on they’ll chat away to each other.”
Eden Court theatre, in Inverness, is also backing the production, which is hoped to go on a Scottish tour in 2023 if its Fringe run is a success, after earlier plans to launch it in were thwarted by the pandemic.
Mr Martin added: “Man Shed was meant to go on tour in Moray and Aberdeen in April and May in 2020, but like everything else at that time had to be scrapped.
“The opportunity to put the show on at the Pleasance came through a competition to put on work supported by regional theatres around the UK. We’ve got a very good relationship with Eden Court and were fortunate enough that our entry was selected.”
Susannah Armitage, senior producer at Eden Court, said: “Man Shed is a very touching and pertinent tale about loneliness, friendship and where you find community.
"It’s also warm and funny and will speak to lots of different audiences and we are sure that it will do well at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.”
Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.