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, 25 February 2012

Auditions in Glasgow

I've been at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow, along with Loz Kaye and Alison Duddle, auditioning Gaelic singers for the Angus MacPhee production. We also had a great deal of support and help from Linda Macleod, a young Gaelic speaker from Clachan in North Uist (incidentally a fine singer herself), who helped us with the Gaelic and in so doing also filled in a lot of detail about the life and culture of Uist - precisely those nuances that are so hard to come by except from someone with an intimate knowledge. Thank you so much Linda, and thanks to the CCA too, for their generosity in providing us with such a wonderful audition room - and to Esther for making the links that made it possible!

The auditions were an inspiration in themselves. Auditions can often be tiring and draining, but these were very stimulating, and listening to the singing and playing provided us with an unusual number of tingly emotional moments. Every single person we auditioned offered us wonderful skill and feeling in their music, and the three of us sitting behind the desk quickly recognised what a privilege it was to be so closely engaged with the music from the islands in this way. I think the process also made us re-think some of our ideas about the show, and I feel that the ripples from these two days in Glasgow will continue to inform our own work over the coming weeks and months. 

We'll be thinking about the selection of a singer over the weekend, and make a final decision on Monday. But if any of the singers who came along to the CCA read this blog - my heartfelt thanks to you for joining with us over these past days.

The photograph above I found on the web and, at first, I thought I had stumbled across a photograph of our Angus Macphee as a young boy. But no, it's another (Dan) Angus MacPhee, but I include it as it's so evocative a photograph, and pretty much exactly fits in with my image of young Angus and his passion for horses. Thank you, and credit to the anonymous source of this photo. 


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