Magnetic North Blog
One of the challenges of being the child of a minister, as we explore in Our Fathers, is the set of preconceptions that go with that. Looking at children of ministers in public life, past and present, we can see where some of these clichés are borne out.
There’s an idea that the 'sweet-talking' sons and daughters of ministers, influenced by watching their father standing up and talking for a living, are likely to end up in some kind of performance related career. In the course of making this show, we've certainly found a few other sons of ministers in the Scottish theatre community, as well as Rob and Nick. David Tennant’s father was a moderator of the Church of Scotland. Prominent musical children of ministers include Nat King Cole, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, and DJ Tim Westwood’s dad was the Bishop of Peterborough.
The next expectation around being the child of a minister is that you have two options - rebel against your upbringing or else channel it into a dutiful life of public service.
Several of Edmund Gosse’s Victorian contemporaries shared his loss of faith and rebellion against their parents’ beliefs. Matthew Arnold, the son of Rev Dr Thomas Arnold, wrote about the “melancholy, long, withdrawing roar” of his faith in Dover Beach. Friedrich Nietzsche moved about as far away from his Lutheran pastor father’s beliefs as it’s possible to get when he proclaimed ‘the death of God’. Joining him in the spectacularly rebellious sons of clergymen team, although in terms of behaviour more than philosophy, is Branwell Brontë. His and his sisters’ father, Patrick Brontë, was the curate of Haworth, where the family lived in the Parsonage. Branwell tried and failed to be a painter and a poet, became addicted to alcohol and laudanum and had a scandalous affair with a married woman. His sisters – perhaps inevitably in Victorian England – were less obviously rebellious, but Charlotte has Jane Eyre rejecting the promise of salvation through missionary work and choosing a fulfilling life on earth in 1847, two years before Edmund Gosse was born.
Although being stereotyped by her father’s job is probably not her biggest current concern, perhaps the most influential child of a clergyman in our public life at the moment is Theresa May – with the ‘vicar’s daughter’ tag often repeated in the media. Or ‘the vicar’s daughter in kitten heels’, defining her by her father’s job and by her clothing just to show how much sexism can be compressed into 6 words. Similarly, we were regularly reminded in Scotland that former Prime Minister Gordon Brown was a ‘son of the manse’ - in some kind of shorthand for serious-minded dutifulness, with a side order of a dour, driven work ethic. It would be interesting to find out if there is a German version for Angela Merkel, the daughter of a Lutheran pastor.
Of course, it’s probably the case that sons and daughters of ministers are as different and various as the children of everyone else. But in Our Fathers we found some common ground between Edmund Gosse, son of a minister in the Plymouth Brethren; Nicholas Bone, son of a bishop in the Church of England and Rob Drummond, son of a minister in the Church of Scotland. You can find out what that is when we open at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh on Sat 21 October.
On tour October-November 2017.
In partnership with Playwrights' Studio Scotland, Playmarket New Zealand abd Creative New Zealand, we are delighted to announce the opportunity for a playwright based in Scotland to spend three months as writer-in-residence with a theatre company in New Zealand.
The residency foolows Arthur Meek's successful residency with Magnetic North in 2016, which resulted in him writing Erewhon Revisited, which premiered in September this year at the Christchurch Arts Festival.
Experienced playwrights based in Scotland are eligible to apply - you can find out more here. The deadline for applications has been extended to Monday 19 February 2018.
Our next Space Time retreat will run from 23rd-27th February 2018 at the Swallow Theatre in Dumfries and Galloway and the application process is now open. Experienced artists from any art form are welcome to apply by the deadline of 5pm on Friday 22nd December.
Space/Time is a paid creative retreat for experienced artists from all disciplines that asks the question “How does an artist keep developing?”
It aims to refresh participants through a stimulating examination of creativity. During the residency, we will explore how creativity can be nourished and how artists can continue challenging themselves to develop.
The residency combines facilitated dialogue - built around a series of self-generated questions - with time for individual reflection and work. It is led by Nicholas Bone and Alice McGrath.
You can find out more about how to apply here.
Our next Space / Time residency - a creative retreat for experienced artists - begins on Friday at Cove Park on the west coast of Scotland.
Space / Time aims to refresh the artists taking part, and to give them the space and time to reflect on their own creative practice. The residency is led by Nicholas Bone and Alice McGrath.
Here is a brief introduction to the artists coming:
Tam Dean Burn
Tam has been an actor and performer for 45 years. Born in Leith, he performs regularly with the London art radio station resonancefm.com. His acting work includes: Tutti Frutti,
Home Edinburgh (National Theatre of Scotland); Mary Stuart (Donmar Warehouse and Apollo West End); The Cutting Room and Filth (Citizens, National Tour and Calgary, Canada). Television work includes: Longford (Channel 4); River City (BBC); Taggart (STV).
A visual artist (mainly in carved natural stone) based in rural Moray, Mary's practice includes studio work, commissions for public places and education work. All of her practice is concerned with how we relate subjectively to our physical world. Trained at Edinburgh College of Art, her professional experience has included public commissions, including artwork at Bennachie, Aberdeenshire; Mallerstang, East Cumbria and Mugdock Country Park, Milngavie. She has worked with high profile architects like Page/Park (Eden Court Theatre) and Malcolm Fraser (Scottish Poetry Library), and with Scottish Historic Buildings Trust and Historic Environment Scotland.
Lynda is a playwright and dramaturg from Cork, who has been based in Glasgow for the past 12 years. She writes plays and mentors other writers and creatives. Her play Futureproof had an Irish tour earlier this year, and The Interference premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe in collaboration with Pepperdine University. The Interference was also revived in California this year, and is currently playing at the Hollywood Fringe. Lynda is developing plays with Magnetic North, Stellar Quines and MACCT students from the Royal Conservatoire Scotland.
Elaine has been working as an artist for the past 20 years in a number of disciplines: installation, performance art, dance; and over the last eight years in film. Her film work is informed by an interest in and experience of movement. The films she produces are developed from a relationship with and an interest in a particular person. Over the past four years she has specialised in working with people with dementia, drawing on her experience of working in this field with dance throughout her career. Her next film will explore the impact of dementia on a relationship.
The first recipient of Magnetic North Artist's Attachment award Hanna Tuulikki is a visual artist, composer, and performer who works with the voice. Her approach is relational and place-responsive, and she is interested in how sound, gesture and language frame our connection with our environment. Though she works across different media, the voice is central to her practice – her first love is to sing and she composes for and with the voice, creating tapestries of a cappella sound that sit at the heart of live performances, films and audiovisual installations. Over the past few years, she has begun to blend her musical compositions with gesture and costume.
The next Space / Time retreat will be held in February 2018. Application information will be available in early December - join our Artist Development mailing list to receive details.