Sunday, 11 February 2018

Ae Fond Dramaturgy: Paul Beeson @ Greenock


Literature lovers are in for a treat this Valentine’s as Eastwood Park Theatre brings Ae Fond Kiss, a musical journey through the life and loves of Robert Burns, on Tuesday 13 February.

The show is perfect for those who
want to ditch the Valentine’s tradition and get out as a group, go solo or know their love would prefer a night out to a red, red rose.

Eastwood Park Theatre is offering its special deal – bring a group of 10 people and one person can come free – for those who want to catch the quirky commentary of Burns and be captivated by his famous poems and songs.
Anthony McReavy from East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure, said: “Our Valentine’s performance is not just for couples. Everyone is encouraged to come along, see the show and learn a little bit more about the life of Scotland’s most treasured and celebrated poet." 

What was the inspiration for this performance?
The inspiration was to tell the fascinating story of the life of Robert Burns; many will be familiar with some of his poetry and songs, but most will not know all the major events and people that inspired him and shaped his life and career.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 
Absolutely! I would argue it is one of the best forums for discussing and investigating ideas. Although a lot of commercial theatre is geared towards pure entertainment (which is also a good thing), I believe performance has the power to explore issues and bring them to life, to educate and inform, and to offer potential ‘what if…’ scenarios. If it can be done in an entertaining, visual and thought-provoking way, so much the better!

How did you become interested in making performance?
I chose to do Higher Drama when I was in 6thyear at high school. I had no aspirations, needed another subject to study and thought Drama would be fun (and if I’m completely honest, a bit of a skive!) After the first few lessons, I realised how much fun it was and it was far from being easy… it was also the first time in my life I found something I felt I was really good at and capable of taking further. A good friend of mine had left school a couple of years before and done a Year Out Drama course in Stratford-Upon-Avon. So, after I left school, I applied and was accepted, then progressed to Drama college the following year. 
I became a Drama teacher a few years after graduating, as I struggled to find work and decided to get a full time job where I could use my skills. I taught for ten years before getting back into performing. Towards the end of my teaching career, I began dabbling in amateur theatre and remembered my love of performing… the pull was too much for me!

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?
As with a lot of theatre making, we started with a script. The show is written in verse and is interspersed with Burns’ poems and songs, so tackling and understanding the text was the first challenge. There is a huge amount of scope for creativity when it comes to telling a story however and we have tried to make the staging as interesting as possible; we have minimal use of props and set, but what we have is used in interesting ways to quickly change location and time. Less is more as they say! We also have an open and honest dialogue with the director and the process is extremely collaborative; all ideas are explored, no matter how unusual!
Does the show fit with your usual productions?
Most of the recent productions have had a small cast, with performers playing multiple roles and this production is no exception. There are only four performers bringing a host of characters to life, which can be challenging, but so much fun! The use of live music and audience interaction is another big part of our recent work and we are looking forward to having a singsong with people all over the country!
What do you hope that the audience will experience?
I hope the audience can emotionally connect with Burns throughout his story; Ae Fond Kiss has everything; it’s entertaining, heartfelt, funny, sentimental, sad, exciting… it is crammed full of facts about Burns’ life, so everyone will learn something they never knew before and hopefully see there was more to the Bard than womanising and drinking… some of the poems and songs will be familiar to the audience and participation is encouraged… 

Rabbie Burns is played by Paul Beeson who will guide you through the show with amusing and poignant interactions with key characters, played by cast members Gilchrist Muir, Shawney Henderson and Zoe Halliday. Featuring many of Burns’ famous poems and songs, including Red, Red Rose, Ae Fond Kiss and Auld Lang Syne, it will be a show to remember whether you love literature or just want to find out a bit more about the Bard. 
Matthew Brown, the No Nonsense Productions' show composer, said:“Robert Burns acts as both narrator and main protagonist on this journey through his life.  We meet the main characters he encountered such as his brother Gilbert, his wife Jean, the other loves of his life and his publisher to name but a few...”

Tickets cost £15 standard and £12 for concessions and are available to book now:

Ae Fond Kiss is touring around Scotland this February and comes to Eastwood Park Theatre on Tuesday 13 February. Tickets cost £15 standard and £12 for concessions and are available to book now:

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