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, 16 June 2012

A week of challenges

Two weeks into rehearsal. We're moving sequentially through the script and looking at things scene by scene. The goals are to find a way of telling each section clearly (remember this is almost entirely wordless), and to find the duration of each scene, or sub-scene, so that Loz can compose the score to precisely the same shape as the action. We finished on Friday having reached the penultimate scene. It would be good for us to be able to reach the end - or close to the end - on Monday. 

It's been a week when we've looked at some of the most challenging parts of the script - Angus's descent into schizophrenia; his treatment in Craig Dunain Mental Hospital; and how to represent his 50 years in the hospital and the development of his grass weaving. We've made great progress on this - particularly the interior hospital scenes - but it's clear that still more time and thought needs to be given to the weaving scenes. 

Film projections are used throughout to enable us to extend our visual language, and above are some shots from one of the films we're creating to use in the section that represents Angus's breakdown. The challenge being how to represent Angus's fragmented mind while retaining control of the material, so we keep the story accurate and in line with what we know about his history at this period of his life. 


  1. These stills look amazing - the masks have a real haunting quality

  2. Was he diagnosed with "schizophrenia" or is that a guess ?

  3. I'm not certain if there was a formal diagnosis, but those who know say it was clearly a case of schizophrenia; and a (relatively) mild form. Today Angus might have been hospitalised for a year and then able to function back in his community, with drugs controlling the
    symptoms. In fact he spent 50 years in hospital.