ANGUS MCPHEE - Weaver of Grass

ANGUS MCPHEE or MACPHEE was a crofter from Uist who spent almost 50 years in a Highland psychiatric hospital. During this time he chose not to speak - instead he wove a series of incredible costumes out of grass. These he hung on trees in the hospital grounds.

This blog follows the progress of HORSE + BAMBOO THEATRE as they develop and tour a show about Angus....

Thursday, 16 May 2013


We can finally announce that we've asked Debbie McKay to join the Angus team for the tour this year. Debbie will replace Mairi Morrison in the role of the narrator. Esther is busy writing the contract at this very moment, (and I've discovered Debbie's Facebook page and sneaked the above photo from it). 

Debbie is originally from Lewis, and now lives in Inverness where she works as Gaelic Drama Worker with Feisean Nan Gaidheal - a Gaelic organisation who take Gaelic Theatre in Education to schools. She is currently touring with Daibhidh Walker in Seonaidh a' Mhonaidh (John of the Moors) as part of Scotland's Year of Nature.

So Debbie now completes our 2013 touring group, along with Jordanna O'Neill (below), Jonny Quick and Mark Whitaker

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Auditioning the singers

Yesterday was spent at Sgoil Ghaidhlig Ghlaschu, the Glasgow Gaelic School, auditioning four young women Gaelic singers - originally it was planned to see five, but one dropped out the day before.

In all honesty I had been worrying about this. Partly because I knew Mairi Morrison would be a very hard act to follow, but also because the people we had to select from (i.e. the singers who had applied for the work) were quite small in number, and once I had dismissed non-Gaelic speakers and a couple of Irish Gaelic singers from the list, I was barely left with enough people to fill a day of auditioning. 

So Loz Kaye (our Music Director), Mairi Morrison (who developed this role last year), and myself arrived at the Gaelic School at 9 in the morning ready to set up. The first surprise was the school itself. In my mind it was going to be a small 'alternative' kind of place with perhaps 4 classrooms. How wrong could I be! It was a bustling, three-story, college-like building with a nursery right through to a senior school. Groups of smart-looking teenagers stood in groups chatting away in Gaelic and, once through the security and signed-in, we were shown to the top floor where we were given a drama studio for the day - along a corridor of other drama and theatre studios, with harps, keyboards, guitars, fiddles and accordions lined up ready for use.

Then the auditions. From the first I realised my worries were unfounded - and again, like the auditions at CCA last year - I was immediately impressed by the quality, integrity and spirit  of the young singers in Gaelic in Scotland. It's truly humbling to see how this incredible heritage is being successfully passed on and being renewed by young people.  

We require a fine singer, but also someone who can communicate well through their story-telling and physical performing, which plays a very important part in the show. Finally we need to have someone totally at ease in Gaelic. All of the young women we auditioned had two of these attributes, often to a very high standard, but we need all three. So at the end of the day when the auditions were over it was an interesting discussion. Eventually a choice was made and we finished for the day - exhilarated and pleased by the way things had unfolded. 

So thank you Melissa, Elspeth, Debbie and Catherine. You all gave really well of yourselves - we were seriously impressed. But a decision had to be made - we would have loved to have had all of you - and so by now the emails have gone out to you. Mòran taing.