The National Theatre of Scotland and Aberdeen City Council are inviting the people of Aberdeen to take part in a major new production that will explore the city’s rich history, celebrate the character of its citizens and re-imagine its future place in the world. From September 2015 to April 2016, a National Theatre of Scotland team of creative artists will produce a programme of performances, interactive multimedia installations and events that will bring the city’s streets to life, before the project culminates in a series of large-scale, site-specific performances within the quadrangle of the world’s largest grey granite building, Marischal College.
National Theatre of Scotland Associate Director Simon Sharkey (The Tin Forest, Extreme) will lead the project and has chosen a team of world-class creative artists to join his team, including costume and set designer Becky Minto (Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Ceremonies), lighting designer Colin Grenfell (Black Watch), dramaturg Peter Arnott (Janis Joplin: Full Tilt) and video artist Graeme Roger (Culloden Battlefield Artist in Residence).
In order to deliver the project, the National Theatre of Scotland team will work closely with some of the city’s leading creative groups, who will lend their ideas, expertise and performing talent. These include Aberdeen Performing Arts, ACT Aberdeen, Citymoves, SHMU and the Sound Emporium Research Group (SERG) from the University of Aberdeen’s Department of Music.
In the nine years since its inception, the National Theatre of Scotland has built up an internationally renowned reputation for its trailblazing approach to participatory arts projects. The pioneering model sees teams of professional theatre artists working in towns and cities across Scotland for months at a time, to co-create world-class pieces of theatre that leave a longstanding impact on the communities involved. Most recently, as part of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme, the Company produced The Tin Forest, bringing together participants from across Glasgow, Scotland and the world, to create a festival of theatre inside an iconic industrial building on the banks of the River Clyde during the fortnight of the Commonwealth Games. The National Theatre of Scotland last worked with Aberdeen City Council in 2011 on Extreme, a similarly well-received production, whose finale involved audience members being kidnapped into the back of a van, forced to escape from a prison cell and to finally perform as part of a pop group, on stage, in front of the rest of the audience.
The theme and foundation of the project is granite: the stone from which the city is built, upon which the city built its global reputation and the characteristics of which the people of North East Scotland are widely held to personify – resilience, grit and robustness, but with an underlying sparkle and charm. In the course of Granite, the team aims to dig out and present stories that describe local people’s personal relationships to the city, which connect with the project’s overarching themes of tenacity and poetry.
The project will be launched in September 2015, at which point full details of how to participate will be made available at www.nationaltheatrescotland.com/granite.
Laurie Sansom, Artistic Director, National Theatre of Scotland says “ As Scotland’s National Theatre we pride ourselves on playing a significant part in the cultural life of Scotland’s major cities and creating opportunities for communities nationwide to make work with us. I am delighted that our Learn team will be co-ordinating this hugely exciting and ambitious cultural project in Aberdeen, working with key partners, agencies and organisations without whose support this wouldn't be possible. I can't wait to see how Aberdeen chooses to tell its story, and how its people will come together to celebrate this unique and vibrant city”
Granite Director Simon Sharkey says: “It is a huge challenge and a great honour to be invited to help tell the story of Aberdeen. To be given the gift of the Marischal College quadrangle to gather the people of Aberdeen in, to tell and hear their own stories, is a dream come true. Granite is an ambitious project and it’ll take grit, but I promise to do my utmost to make the city and the people shine. None of this would be possible without the generous support and partnership of key Aberdonian companies and organisations. I am really looking forward to continuing my love affair with one of Northern Europe’s greatest cities.”
Lord Provost of Aberdeen George Adam says: “Working in partnership with the National Theatre of Scotland on the Granite project will provide a fabulous opportunity to tell Aberdeen’s unique story from a range of perspectives. The National Theatre of Scotland will use their special skills to work with a significant number of individuals and groups in the city, creative and not so creative, so that their stories can be turned into unique theatre experiences. Granite will showcase and celebrate the talent already in the city and encourage others to get involved and I am sure that this project will confirm Aberdeen’s place on the cultural map and inspire even greater artistic ambition in the city. It’s a huge opportunity.”
Derek Henderson, Deloitte’s Senior Partner in Aberdeen, says: “It’s an absolute privilege to be part of a cultural initiative of such significance to Aberdeen. Deloitte has a long history in the city and our support for this project underlines our continued commitment and investment in the North East. We look forward to working with the National Theatre of Scotland, and all of the partner organisations, in the weeks and months ahead to help tell the story of the people of Aberdeen and demonstrate why its strengths lie not only in business and energy, but also in its history and culture.”
Aberdeen Inspired Chief Executive Gary Craig says: “Aberdeen Inspired will continue to support such productions that celebrate the unique attributes of our city, while also shining a creative light on our rich history. One of our overriding aims as a company is to continue to increase footfall to our city centre, and we believe Granite will provide an exciting programme of installations and events that will pull in captivated crowds. We are looking forward to seeing the productions coming together in partnership with some of our city’s artistic creative groups.”
Karin Hayhow, Marketing Director from Mackie’s of Scotland says “Mackie’s are delighted that the National Theatre of Scotland team are coming to work their magic in our home town of Aberdeen. We look forward to working with them to explore stories from the people of Aberdeenshire. As a fourth generation family business we appreciate that the endeavours of our ancestors have helped create a vision for our future generations. We are looking forward to a celebration of Aberdeen and its people from the creative genius of the people of the National Theatre of Scotland and their local allies”.
Jim Milne CBE, Chairman and Managing Director, Balmoral Group says: “As an Aberdeen-based company and very much part of the local community, we are delighted to be working with like-minded innovators at National Theatre of Scotland on Granite. This is a huge and ambitious project and we expect nothing less from our national theatre company. From the early days of quarrying and exporting granite around the world to current times when companies such as ours operate on a global basis, Aberdeen has always been a city of vision and ambition. The Granite project will learn from the past, inform the future and focus on Aberdeen’s spirit in the best possible way.”
ACT Aberdeen Artistic Director Paula Gibson says: “Some time back Louise Baxter, current chair of ACT Aberdeen and I went to National Theatre of Scotland in Glasgow with the seeds of an idea to tell the story of the granite industry through the eyes of the people who worked in it. The National Theatre of Scotland represents the very best of contemporary community theatre and we are delighted and privileged to be working alongside Simon and his team of creatives as this sparkling project comes to fruition”
Citymoves Dance Agency says: “Citymoves' purpose is to make a difference through dance, whilst participation, performance and collaboration sit at the very heart of the organisation. Granite is exceptionally exciting as it offers two of our performance companies, Quicksilver (our over-50s company who’ll be fresh from performing at Dance Live 2015) and Fusion (our nationally renowned youth dance company) the opportunity collaborate and perform to our home crowd in one of the most iconic sites in the city”
Station House Media Unit Chief Executive Murray Dawson says: “We have been using media for many years to help the people of Aberdeen reminisce and to tell stories of great personal value to them. This is not only a fantastic project from that perspective but it will also afford an opportunity for our many volunteers to actively participate in a high quality collaborative project”
SERG Co-director, Pete Stollery says: “It’s great for students and researchers at the University of Aberdeen to be working with the National Theatre of Scotland on Granite and, with them, to bring to life parts of the City’s history through sound and music activities”
Claire Davidson, Drama Development Co-ordinator at APA says: “We are delighted to have our Senior Youth Theatre take part in this exciting project with the National Theatre of Scotland. Aberdeen has a story to tell and we are proud to have our young people take a role in telling it. It is exciting to have a new team of artists come to the city to collaborate with the talent that already exists and provide the community with a once in a lifetime opportunity to perform a story about Aberdeen, in Aberdeen, for Aberdeen.”
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