Over the last 10 years, Strange Town has staged 124 productions, commissioned 98 original scripts and performed in a variety of spaces including theatres, football stadiums, schools and prisons, showcasing local talent year-round and offering opportunities for young people on and offstage, with a recent coup in seeing their member Josie O’Brien cast as Chris Pine’s daughter for the hugely popular Netlfix film, Outlaw King.
In celebration of their 10th anniversary, as well as staging some seasonal favourites – The Knight of the Burning Pestle (7/8 Dec), 1001 Nights at Widow Twanky’s B&B (7/8 Dec) & Aladdin, where you can catch Josie as the evil magician Abanazar (8/9 Dec) – Strange Town Theatre Company presents a double bill of shows – ‘Balisong’ by Jennifer Adam and ‘Love Bites’ by Sam Siggs on Wed 5 and Sun 9 December. The Double Bill is directed by Strange Town’s Creative Directors, Steve Small and Ruth Hollyman, respectively.
‘We wanted to mark the 10th anniversary by showing the breadth and range of work that Strange Town does - ‘Balisong’ is touring to every local authority in Scotland and 'Love Bites’ is an existing Strange Town script which we updated, creating a special group of twenty actors, aged 8-18, showcasing performers across our youth theatre age groups.’ (Steve Small)
Balisong’ is a ‘No Knives, Better Lives’ project, produced and coordinated by Fast Forward in association with Youth Link Scotland. Created using a peer theatre approach, Strange Town engaged directly with young people’s ideas, opinions and experiences of knife crime, resulting in a show where three school friends face a dilemma when one of them starts carrying a knife.
It has been touring schools since September 2018, and by February 2019 it will have been seen by more than 25,000 young people from every local authority in Scotland, allowing school children to engage in the topic through their peers.
‘This play feels like it was made for us. It addresses issues in a way that we are not normally spoken to from young people to young people.’ (pupil feedback after school performance)
Director Steve Small states:
‘I’m delighted to be able to offer audiences the chance to see ‘Balisong’ which has been touring secondary schools throughout Scotland and garnering rave reviews from young audiences.
‘It’s also a chance to catch three young actors on their first professional tour performing a sparkling script by emerging writer Jennifer Adam.’
Playwright Jennifer Adam states:
‘The process for this piece was quite organic. I’d been part of a development day hearing different stories from young actors. Scottish knife crime statistics were discussed alongside the idea of active citizenship and making informed choices.
‘Some in the group had personal stories about awareness of someone carrying a knife and this, coupled with my own experiences, fed into the story of a young boy who just wants to be seen.
‘The result is a light-hearted story structured around an important message, which I hope empowers the teens in the audience to be agents of change. It’s fast-paced and easy to get swept up in the story of Finn and his family and friends, but then it suddenly hits you with a reminder of why we’re here watching this play, and how everything changes with the prospect of having a criminal record.’
Love Bites was first performed by Strange Town in 2012 with a cast of 14-16-year olds, which follows a sobbing girl on a park bench wearing plastic wings on Midsummer night’s eve. What’s caused her tears?
With the engaging and accessible theme of love and relationships, it’s been a favourite for performers from Strange Town, as well as audiences and to mark the 10th anniversary, writer Sam Siggs has re-worked the play, for a cast of twenty, ranging in age from 8 to 18.
Director Ruth Hollyman states:
‘This is the first Strange Town production where the cast has spanned such a wide age range, and it’s been a real pleasure working with this group of young actors, watching them forge friendships and bounce creatively off each other.
‘Love Bites, explores love in all its myriad forms, be it love for a friend, a sibling or for a boyfriend/girlfriend, and the young cast have had a ball putting it together.
‘I hope you enjoy watching ‘Love Bites’ as much as the cast relish performing it. You should leave feeling a warm glow and perhaps a tear in your eye, having been reminded of the highs and lows of what it is to love and be loved.’
Wed 5 & Sun 9 Dec | 7pm (2hrs 30) | £15 (£10) (£9.50 SCS) | 12+
Double Bill: Love Bites/Balisong
by Sam Siggs
Midsummer night's eve in Edinburgh. A girl with wings and a plastic bow and arrow sits sobbing on a bench.
It's been a hard day.
by Jennifer Adam
This is the story of Finlay Richards. A name everyone at school knows. An average 15-year-old boy, who just wants to be seen. But you won’t see Finn. You won’t ever meet him.
Fri 7 & Sat 8 Dec | 7pm (1hr) | £9 (£6) (£5.50 SCS) | All Ages
The Knight of The Burning Pestle
by Francis Beaumont. Adapted by Rebekah King
Shakespeare's time. A troupe of actors opens their new romantic comedy: no magic, no monsters, and certainly no knights. But the audience has other ideas...
Performed by 11-14s (Friday group).
Fri 7 & Sat 8 Dec | 9pm (1hr) | £9 (£6) (£5.50 SCS) | All Ages
1001 Nights at Widow Twankey’s B&B
By Duncan Kidd
Four baddies scheming. Three genies gurning. Two B‘n’Bs competing. And a Magic Lamp in widow’s bra Cup-D! It all adds up to Super-Fantastical-Panto-Spectastical!
Performed by 11-14s (Wednesday group).
Sat 8 & Sun 9 Dec | 3pm (1hr) | £9 (£6) (£5.50 SCS) | Recommended for all ages
by Tim Primrose
In a distant land, the Evil Magician Abanazar is up to no good. Only Aladdin can stop him… with the help of some rather unusual friends...
Performed by 8-10s group.
Book Tickets at www.scottishstorytellingcentre.com or call 0131 556 9579
Lindsay Corr is Marketing and Communications Manager of TRACS (Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland) which is based at the Scottish Storytelling Centre