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, 26 May 2011

Both nam Faileas - and new information too

Rainbow over the Hut of Shadows or Both nam Faileas

I'm preparing to return to Berneray at the weekend; hoping the gales keep away. In the meantime I'm beginning to read the manuscript for 'The Silent Weaver', the new book by Roger Hutchinson (author of 'Calum's Way') which is due for publication this autumn.

It's a lovely book, telling Angus's story but giving a lot of detail about the background circumstances to his life and times. Detail about the life of a crofter on South Uist in the early years on the twentieth century (that had hardly changed for 100 years); detail about the Lovat Scouts - the regiment that Angus and other young island men of his generation signed up for, and so on. 

For me this is not only fascinating but also has in impact on the story we're telling in our production.  Although our piece is almost entirely non-verbal, telling the story with images and music, it's very important that it's bedded into a factual base. Joyce Laing's 'Weaver of Grass' provides some of this material but her story is essentially about the Angus Mcphee she met at Craig Dunain psychiatric hospital, and the background she gives is necessarily quite basic when compared to Rogers. 

Already (I'm half-way through the book) I've discovered that Angus wasn't born on South Uist, but near Glasgow. His father had left the island, looking for work as a hired hand, and he married and had his 4 children during this period. Eventually he returned, by a twist of fate, when Angus was around 7 years old. This knowledge subtly affects the opening of our piece as I had written it, and accordingly it will need to be changed. 

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