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....

Monday, 24 September 2012

The end...

Last night the 2012 tour of 'Angus - Weaver of Grass' finished, at the Boo, with another sold out show. The set and props now lay in piles on the floor of our theatre. 

We all had a drink together last night after the show, and this morning I drove Mairi Morrison to her train to Glasgow. She flies to Lewis later in the week. That goodbye made me realise that the tour was finally over. Thank you Mark, Jonny, Frances and Mairi, for your part in making this such a memorable tour, and to Alison, Christina, Esther, Loz, Joanne, Kirsty, Helen, Ellie, Daniella, Chris, Vanessa and the many, many others who all made such a huge contribution to creating this theatre story that has clearly touched so many people. 

A few comments taken almost at random from just the last four days....

  • It was beautiful. At least one of us might have cried. Actually, both of us. A bit.
  • Wasn't it terrific?! Magical.
  • Thank you for your brilliant production in Ardfen last Friday. It made me laugh and moved me to tears. We've enjoyed listening to Mairi's CD over the weekend. Oh and our magic bunnets took us to Craobh Haven and the Tarbert music festival on Saturday so thanks for that too.
  • @HorseandBamboo 's 'Angus, Weaver of Grass' was visually brilliant, terribly moving and left me thinking I could speak Gaelic. Many thanks x
  • So sensitive and beautiful, what a stunning piece of theatre, I was so moved. Everything married up so well, it was wonderful. Thank you.
  • Absolutely brilliant! Right mix of weird and wonderful. Would definitely recommend to friends. Imagery was beautiful. Well done to all those involved.
  • Thank you for that beautiful journey...sad, touching but full of light, life and warmth. Your hard work is appreciated.
  • An incredible story so beautifully told, powerful, emotional and uplifting. Thank you.
  • Magical, innovative, captivating, moving. A beautiful piece of theatre that will linger in the memory forever. Bravo!!
  • Stunning, moving and beautiful. Made my heart beak. Was ace to hear Gaelic; singing was lovely. These stories need telling. Thank you.
  • What a great way to tell a tale. Spellbinding!
  • The most beautiful moving piece of theatre I've seen for a long time.
  • Amazing, wonderful. Thank you. You had me in tears. I have to see the performance again.
  • As a regular theatre goer, this is the most wonderful, magical, moving piece of theatre I’ve seen in a long time – beautifully realised, very well paced, so emotional, full of heart. Cannot recommend enough.
So now this blog will go quiet. It won't stop completely - I'll update it when there's something worth telling. In particular on any progress towards another tour of 'Angus' - hopefully in 2013. 

Thank you for following our journey. Tìoraidh an dràsda.

Thursday, 20 September 2012


It was high summer when we set out on our tour - and on the Islands anyway it was a proper summer; blue skies and suchlike - opening on Tiree July 16th. Now we're in England (Sasann) with just 4 shows to go - and Autumn is in the air (hence the photo).

Tonight, we're at the New Continental in Preston at 8.00pm
Tomorrow (Friday) at Square Chapel, Halifax at 8.00pm

Apparently both these venues have plenty of seats left, but best to book in advance, in case (click on the links above to book).

Then on Saturday and Sunday (22nd/23rd) 'Angus - Weaver of Grass' finishes its tour at our base the Boo as part of the Horse and BamBoo Puppet Festival. But both of these shows are fully booked - in fact we're worried about disappointment at the door if people turn up hoping to buy a ticket.


But the really good news is that, after discussions last week with our Scottish partners, it looks as if there's a real enthusiasm to remount another tour next summer. So even though this blog may go quiet, we won't close down completely and promise to post updates on plans for 2013.

Thursday, 13 September 2012


On Sunday I took a train to Thurso, hired a car, and drove the 25 minutes out to Lyth Arts Centre, a quite amazing place created by Willie Wilson. Apparently in the middle of nowhere, it can actually draw an audience from a wide hinterland. Willie is well known and trusted in the Caithness community where his centre sits in farmland half way between Thurso and Wick. 17 years ago Horse + Bamboo arrived at this place with horses and carts, but this time it was in a Transit van. Willie is still very much here, offering his wonderful hospitality and attention to detail - to us certainly, and I'm sure to all the many artists who travel out this way because they know just how special it is.

Our show booked up two weeks ago, and Willie persuaded us to put on an extra performance in the afternoon. Both performances were rapturously received. The photograph below shows Frances and Mairi, in front of Jonny and Mark,  showing masks, puppets and Joanne Kaar's weaving to the audience after the show. Joanne lives 15 minutes drive away from Lyth, so it was lovely for her to be with us - she came to both performances - and for the cast to meet her friends and family.

The day after was a day off for the company before they embarked on a strenuous last leg of the tour. As so often with days off there were a few jobs to do. Not least a repair of a prop - a smouldering sheepskin torch (!) which took most of the morning and half of the evening. But still we took the afternoon out to see the sights - including Dunnet Head, close to Joanne's house in Dunnet. This is the most northerly point on the British mainland. Immediately below the photograph shows Jonny looking across Dunnet Bay to Dunnet Head, and below that the view from Dunnet Head itself - looking west all the way to Cape Wrath.

Then yesterday I left early with everyone else still asleep, and drove to the station to take the early train back home. The picture is Lyth Arts Centre, with the H+B van in the car park, as the sun rose. As you can imagine, I left feeling just a little sad...

Saturday, 8 September 2012

The last leg

From the Comments Book at the Scottish Storytelling Centre:
  • One of the best pieces of theatre I’ve seen. So moving. You thought of every detail. A Mhairi – abair gutt alainn – sgoinneil!
  • Came from Stonehaven just for this show and am so glad! I have never see such a beautiful play – so sensitively produced (even using technology to enhance the dialogue). I do not speak or understand Gaelic but felt every word and gesture. Thank you. Please come to Aberdeen sometimes. 
  • Lovely – scrumptious. Thanks! Loved it…want to come again. 
  • Can’t describe how wonderful this was. One of the best things I’ve ever seen in any format. Thanks is not enough. Magical.
  • Horse and Bamboo do it again! Wonderful. Magical. Totally captivating, moving in extreme. Finely crafted, exquisite…
  • Astonishing story beautifully told. I wept buckets.
  • Just as powerful, just as moving as on your first night in Tiree. So clever, on so many levels – I can’t praise the whole company enough for their sensitivity.
  • Deserves a Fringe Award and every other award going!! Thank you a thousand times and warmest congratulations on a production that reaches the heart of things through an amazing combination of media and modes of presentation, and a company that clearly chime well with each other to convey a true story in a genuine and utterly memorable way.
  • Poetic, beautiful yet heart-breaking. I loved the way you used puppets and masks, music and animation – adding layers to the story and perspectives. Thank you.
  • A truly beautiful production; what a wonderful portraying of an incredibly special man. Extraordinary.
  • Astonishing production. So powerful – we ran the gamut of emotion – laughter and tears. Great multi-media. Bravo!!
  • Superb storytelling – totally absorbing and very moving. A privilege to have seen this!

Now off on the last leg of our 2012 tour; catch Angus - Weaver of Grass while you can!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Full circle

Above, two scenes that became a familiar part of the first leg of our tour. Now, in a few days time, we embark on the third and final leg of taking 'Angus - Weaver of Grass' around the country. On this leg we start way up at Lyth Arts Centre, at the very top of Scotland, not far from John'o'Groats and (far nicer) Dunnet Head. From there we have a few more Scottish shows (but alas no more ferries) and then into England and a handful of shows including an interesting one organised by the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, when we perform in a lecture theatre within the Manchester Royal Infirmary as part of the Arts in Health programme. 

The tour comes to its finish at home - two nights at the Boo in Rossendale as part of the Horse + Bamboo Puppet Festival on the weekend of 22nd and 23rd September. So full circle! Tickets for all of these shows are selling well so make sure that you book seats in advance - I'm told the Lyth show is sold out already and that they could have filled a second night.

Meanwhile, I've been collating information to send to Creative Scotland, Bòrd na Gàidhlig and the Arts Council of England as part of the reporting back process. This will be done as soon as the tour is finished, and I'll be sending a report and feedback from the audiences. Doing the latter job has been quite an experience - it's amazing to read just how many people have been deeply affected by the show.