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....

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

A short trip to the Islands

The first glimpse of Muck
Our Horse + Bamboo tour arrived on the Isle of Muck last Wednesday, and I was fortunate enough to accompany them. The island, with a population somewhere between 30 and 40, is tiny - just a mile wide; two miles long. It is notable for being self-sufficient in power, with large solar panels and several wind-generators that provide all their needs - and which did a thoroughly decent job of providing us power for Angus - Weaver of Grass

Mark drives our van, while Jonny, Jordanna and Mel walk to the Community Hall.

28 people turned out for the show - almost 80% of the population! Despite having no blackout the show worked well. It started in close to broad daylight (the hall has large roof lights) but night drew in just as the story gets darker - so the contrast from the light of Angus' early years to his later travails and the long period of incarceration in Craig Dunain was echoed by the changing and dimming light in the hall. 

The show was very well received - everyone staying around for tea and cakes, and to chat with myself and the cast. What a hospitable community! We were fed and watered, and then provided with lovely rooms for the overnight stay, before being waved off from the quayside the next morning. An amazing visit!

Arriving on Islay, Port Askaig.

Then on to Islay, after returning to Mallaig and a drive south. 'Angus' was on at the Bowmore Hall, where 80 people turned up - the arts committee were overjoyed by the size of the audience, and a good few of them were Gaelic speakers. The response at the end was electric - and just about everyone stayed behind to chat, look at the masks and puppets, buy copies of The Silent Weaver book by Roger Hutchinson (which we sell after the show along with Nick Higgin's film Hidden Gifts about Angus). Comments in the book were full of delight and astonishment at our production. So all in all a wonderful trip, and a reminder of the powerful impact that theatre can have on audiences. 

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