Magnetic North Blog
We are delighted to be reviving our acclaimed production of Walden for this year’s Hidden Door festival.
Mon 30 May – Wed 1 June 2016, 18.30 & 20.30
“My purpose in going to Walden was not to live cheaply or dearly, but to live deliberately.”
On 4th July 1845, Henry David Thoreau walked into the woods near his hometown of Concord, Massachusetts and decided to stay. He found a spot next to a lake called Walden Pond and built a hut. For the next two years he tried to live entirely by his own resources.
Walden, Thoreau’s account of his ‘experiment in simple living’, is one of the most extraordinary and unclassifiable books ever written, with huge contemporary resonance. It is a meditation on self-sufficiency, the individual’s relationship with the environment and the desire to ‘live deliberately’.
First produced in 2009, Magnetic North’s adaptation was hugely popular with audiences and received a string of 4 and 5 star reviews.
Nicholas Bone, Magnetic North’s Artistic Director, and Walden’s director and adaptor said: “Magnetic North is delighted to have the opportunity to revive Walden for Hidden Door’s invited programme. As an Edinburgh-based company, we’re hugely supportive of the opportunities Hidden Door gives for artists and audiences to share work in otherwise disused spaces in the city. We’re looking forward to being part of the event for the first time this year.”
The production is performed in an intimate, in-the-round setting: 12 beautifully crafted benches made from American cedar join together to create an arena for the audience and actor, with just 40 audience members able to attend each performance.
Hidden Door Festival, Old Lighting Depot, King’s Stables Road, Edinburgh
Monday 30 May – Wed 1 June
18.30 & 20.30
We are delighted to be hosting New Zealand playwright Arthur Meek as writer in residence with Magnetic North next summer.
Arthur joins us thanks to a joint initiative run by Playmarket New Zealand and Playwrights’ Studio Scotland: the development agencies for playwrights for their respective countries.
We will host Arthur for a 3 month residency from July-Sept 2016. He will participate in Rough Mix, spend a week at Cove Park, have the opportunity to see work and make contacts during the Edinburgh festivals in August as well as being commissioned to write a new play, Erewhon.
Based on Samuel Butler’s satirical utopian novel, Erewhon will be a solo show, performed by Arthur and taking the form of an illustrated theatrical lecture in which Arthur will attempt to amuse an audience of Erewhonians by contrasting his own society with their own. The experience of distance from New Zealand, and the mix of familiarity and difference that is a New Zealander’s experience of living in Scotland, will inform the writing and development of the piece.
Arthur will be supported throughout by our artistic director Nicholas Bone. There will be a work in progress sharing of Erewhon at the end of the residency.
Arthur Meek is an award-winning New Zealand writer for stage and screen. His two published plays, The Trees beneath the Lake and On the Upside Down of the World were both commissioned by the Auckland Theatre Company. His work has been shown in New Zealand, Australia, the UK and the US.
Magnetic North at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2015
A Requiem for Edward Snowden
by Matthew Collings and Jules Rawlinson
A ‘digital opera’ about loss of faith, hacking and privacy in an online world will be part of the Made in Scotland 2015 showcase
A Requiem for Edward Snowden is a new audio-visual performance work created by composer Matthew Collings and video artist Jules Rawlinson. Performed live by Collings and Rawlinson with a violinist, cellist and clarinettist, A Requiem for Edward Snowden plays against a background of video projections incorporating images from live cameras, stock footage and hacked documents. It will be performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this August as part of the prestigious Made in Scotland programme, which showcases the best Scottish work to audiences and promoters from around the world.
Described by its creators as a ‘digital opera’, it is based around the actions and decisions of whistleblower Edward Snowden. It focuses on themes which are extremely relevant to how we live in the 21st century: loss of faith and security, the hacking of digital media, invasion of privacy and personal sacrifice. Snowden’s revelations have shown that we live in a world where we are totally reliant not just on electronic communication, but on daily routines in which our privacy is routinely compromised. The phones that we carry with us in our pockets not only keep us connected to the world, but also allow others to delve into our most personal data. A Requiem for Edward Snowden explores the consequences of this through a combination of electronic sound, acoustic instrumentation and live visuals in a 50 minute-long performance.
Matthew Collings’s interest in mixing digital media with traditional instrumentation is reflected in the style of performance. The piece’s musical structure combines with an intricate and expressive visual language to create a unique performance that has already proved popular with audiences.
A Requiem for Edward Snowden was developed with a Creative Scotland Artist’s Bursary and in collaboration with New Media Scotland and Edinburgh College of Art. It was premiered in October 2014 to a sell-out audience at Edinburgh's Reid Concert Hall, and was subsequently performed at the CCA in Glasgow in March 2015. Matthew Collings and Jules Rawlinson both live and work in Edinburgh, and Collings took part in Magnetic North's artist development programme Rough Mix in 2014.
You can find out more and listen to excerpts on the Requiem webpage
Venue: Stockbridge Parish Church, venue 317 Box office: 0131 226 0122
Tickets: £10/£7 conc/£6 students
Dates: 20-22 August Time: 8.00pm
Twitter: @magnorththeatre @mlscollings #requiemsnowden
We've got a full programme of artist and project development projects between now and March 2016, following a successful funding bid to Creative Scotland. Among the highlights are Our Fathers - a new project about faith, to be created in collaboration with playwright Rob Drummond and based on Edmund Gosse’s book Father and Son; Rough Mix - a multi-art form artist development residency at Summerhall in Edinburgh and Space/Time - a creative retreat for experienced artists at Cove Park, Argyll and Bute. As part of its commitment to developing and widening opportunities for all artists, we will ensure that at least one of the residency places is taken by a Deaf or disabled artist.
We are really pleased to be announcing this exciting programme of new work – it is great that Creative Scotland has recognised the quality and strength of the work we have been doing with artists across art forms over the last few years. Since we ran our first Artist Development residency Rough Mix at Dance Base in late 2006, we’ve worked with over 50 established and emerging artists, supporting them to explore new ideas and giving them time to reflect on their work. I’m particularly excited to be working with Rob Drummond on a project that is very close to both our hearts and which we have discussed for some time.
Our Fathers is the working title for a project based on Father and Son, the poet Edmund Gosse’s memoir of his upbringing in a strict, evangelical Plymouth Brethren family. Tightly bound to his father by the early death of his mother and his father’s burning sense of Edmund’s destiny as a great preacher, Gosse came to a gradual realisation of his own sense of self, culminating in his rejection of religion. Rob and I were both brought up in religious households and had fathers who were clergymen, so we have a very personal take on this story. We'll be working at the Tron in September to develop ideas for the production, which we plan to tour in Autumn 2016.
Rough Mix is a two week, practical, multi-art form residency for 6 experienced artists and 2 emerging artists. Previous residencies have taken place at Dance Base and Summerhall in Edinburgh, and Tramway in Glasgow; this year’s residency will again be at Summerhall. Previous participants have included playwrights, composers, visual artists, choreographers and film-makers. The residency will take place from 14th-25th September and we'll be announcing deatils of how to apply at the end of May. You can read more here.
Space/Time is a week-long retreat for established artists. It combines facilitated dialogue - built around self-generated questions and a series of provocations and tasks - with individual time for reflection. This year’s retreat will be at Cove Park Artists’ Centre in Argyll and Bute from 19th-26th October. Previous retreats have been held at Lyth Arts Centre in Caithness and Cromarty Arts Trust. Details of how to apply will be available at the end of May.
We will also continue to support participating artists after the residencies by offering tailored support in the form of individual mentoring advice on further development opportunities for their work, and introductions to other artists or producers who may be of help to them. The company is now using its producing expertise to work with Rough Mix alumni to help them put on their work: it is currently working with composer Matthew Collings (who took part in Rough Mix in 2014) to produce his A Requiem for Edward Snowden, a collaboration with sound and visual artist Jules Rawlinson, which will be performed at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe as part of the Made in Scotland programme.
We'll be announcing more work soon.
Pamela Carter (who is writing Wild Boy) and I have spent the last two weeks taking part in the Edinburgh International Festival and National Theatre of Scotland's joint Summer School. As part of this, we have been seeing lots of theatre (some inspiring, some less so) and meeting other practitioners. For the last three days we have a had an amazing experience taking part in a workshop with Lee Breuer and Maude Mitchell from Mabou Mines. Anyone who saw the extraordinary DollHouse at the Festival two years ago (a production which Lee directed and in which Maude played Nora) will know that they are theatremakers of great vision and skill.
Along with 10 other practitioners (directors and writers), we each presented a piece of work which Lee and Maude then critiqued and discussed. Pamela worked on a scene from her new play (which she will be directing at the Traverse early next year) and I worked on a scene from George Kaufman and Edna Ferber's play Dinner at Eight.
What was wonderful was the care and skill which Lee and Maude brought to the process - respectful, generous and insightful, they were able to help us to look differently at our work. Lee is not only a hugely experienced director with a great practical knowledge of dealing with the stage and text, but also has a deep understanding of the theory and history of theatre. At the end of each shwoing he would immediately come up with two or three nuggets of why some things worked, why some didn't and what needed to be thought about.
All of us came away from the experience with enormous respect for both Maude and Lee and the feeling that we had all learned things that would affect our future work (not always the experience you have at workshops).
On Wednesday we're going to see Peter and Wendy, Lee's adaptation of Peter Pan.
If you want to find out more about Mabou Mines, their website is at http://www.maboumines.org/