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....

Saturday, 8 January 2011

The current plan

Angus McPhee drinking coffee at Uist House, the care home on South Uist where he lived after returning to the island after his long, long stay at Craig Dunain psychiatric hospital near Inverness. From Joyce Laing's book 'Weaver of Grass' (photo: Tim Neat).

The plan: Once our current shows are up and running, Alison and I will start working on 'Angus'. Between now and May we'll each find at least a months work to spend on the show - probably masks and puppets will be the first things we make. Some of the puppets required are complex - in particular a set of marionettes for the scene when the young Angus sets off to join the Lovat Scouts at the outset of the war. These I imagine will be carved in wood, and possibly by Alison who has got into wood-carving in a big way over the past year and more... Meanwhile, I'll probably start by creating a series of masks of Angus McPhee himself; masks that represent Angus at different stages of his life.

The plan is to then for us to take these to the Outer Hebrides early this summer, along with our musical director, Loz Kaye, and using Berneray Community Hall as a base for a short time, to start developing the staging for the show and beginning to look at how the different formal elements - the masks and puppets, song, music, film, woven pieces - might all come and work together. At this point we'll meet up with some of the other artists working on the development of the piece - Chris Spears and Joanne B Kaar. I'll also continue with this work throughout the summer months.

Helen and Esther will meantime be working on raising the funding to enable us to continue the work. By April 2012 we'll put together a more formal presentation at Taigh Chearsabhagh of our work in progress as a public exhibition. At this point the Foyle Foundation grant runs out and we'll  

Then the final making period will start at our base in Rossendale in preparation for a tour from July to September 2012. This happening will depend on how successful Helen has been in raising funding support to allow us to finish the making and then to undertake rehearsals. The final part of the funding jigsaw is in the organising and selling of the tour itself, and this is where Esther's work is crucial, and will need to start before we're too long into 2011. 

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