Arts News!

“Sittin’ on top of the world” Captivate Theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe 2022!

Acclaimed Edinburgh based company Captivate Theatre have confirmed they’re full scale return to the Fringe Festival of 2022 with the major news they’er taking over their home of The Rose Theatre the city Centre venue for the entire 2022 festival to continue they’er aim of celebrating and elevating talent from within the city and beyond.

Captivate Theatre debuted at the 2012 Fringe to sell out audiences and critical acclaim for their programme of large scale musicals, intimate dramas, comedies and children’s Shakespeare’s shows.

Originally homed in Broughton High School the company moved to the Famous Spiegel tent in 2014 seeing their reputation soar to new heights with a sell out production of the ever popular Sunshine on Leith which would sell out the Spiegel tent in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

 2017 saw Captivate make the beautiful Rose Theatre they’rehome, for the subsequent three festivals working with the legendary team at the Gilded Balloon as venue producers. 2020 saw the first cancellation of the entire Festival due to the Covid pandemic, however Captivate teamed with Gilded Balloon in 2021 for a production of “Sunshine on Leith” staged outdoors for the first time at the Multistory venue in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle itself.  Now the company which see’s hundreds of performers from across Edinburgh and the Lothian’s take to the stage each summer are bringing their full programme back and running the Rose Theatre Venue itself!

Company Founder, Owner & Artistic Director Sally Lyall

Speaking to Scotsgay arts, Sally Lyall – Founder, Owner & Artistic Director said “It’s an incredibly exciting, if a little scary, move for us.  We are programming the main theatre from morning to late night and have many fantastic shows to suit everybody.  Over two hundred local children and adults will be involved on stage, back stage, front of house and in the bands.  It will be a fantastic experience for all involved and the audiences.  The Rose is a fantastic venue in the heart of the city with the fantastic Rose Café and bars to hang out in.  We want to create a real buzz about the place and can’t wait to get started.”

The Rose Theatre is owned by theatrical entrepreneur Peter Schaufuss, who recently confirmed plans to revive St Stephens Church in Stockbridge which will see a brand new production of “Hamlet” featuring the legendary Sir Ian McKellen as the jewel of its Fringe programme.  Schaufuss an ardent supporter of the arts in Edinburgh beyond the Fringe spoke to Scotsgay arts saying “I’m thrilled to provide a space for Captivate Theatre to call ‘home’ for this year’s festival. Captivate Theatre continues to be one of the most exciting local theatre companies to bring opportunities to local performers within the vast Fringe landscape.”

Captivate Theatre’s annual Fringe programme draws together hundreds of children, a dedicated adult cast along with a wealth of musicians, technicians, wardrobe, back stage and front of house teams in a collaborative exploration of the arts that has seen many of its members enter the professional industry including Michael Fraser, Arts Producer who gained his first opportunities in the arts from the company and as says “Captivate Theatre and Sally Lyall are the reason I found my love for theatre and fringe. It’s thanks to the opportunities proved by them, as a boy from Gorgie, that I am now able to call this industry home. I’m delighted to come back to where I started and support Sally with this next step in the company’s journey.”

Lyall Joined by cast members from across the 2022 Productions.

The 2022 programme from Captivate will feature, Sunshine on Leith, the companies, five star, vibrant, energetic, emotional, sell out production will come to the Rose Theatre for the first time.

Smashing Shakespeare Primary Times Children’s Choice Award Winner written by company directors Sally Lyall and Tommie Travers. Brave Macbeth, Juliet and Her Romeo tell the bard’s tales through comedy and song promising fun for all the family.

Oliver! This classic musical tale returns to the Rose and features a stunning performance from Scottish Opera and Royal Opera House Covent Garden Alumni Charlie Munro who will be joined by a stellar cast.

Shrek the Musical “Once upon a time, there was a little ogre named Shrek…”  Captivate all new production tells the story of everyone’s favourite ogre in their own original style.

The Addams Family their spooky and their cookie! One of the companies’ summer school productions with an extremely talented young cast taking centre Stage. We Will Rock You young@part the second of the companies summer school productions. Which will see an incredibly talented all female cast take to the Rose Theatre Stage.

One Man Two Guvnors Following a successful run in the Spring at Musselburgh’s Brunton Theatre, the company revive this multi award winning comedy play for a Fringe Run.

Perfect Forth Captivates, critically acclaimed,  A-Cappella group present Athena,  a high-octane blend of original music based around the mythology of the Greek gods, accompanied by well-known, rearranged songs that you know and love.

Big Band Does… Two late night shows are promised from this Edinburgh based company, Big Bad Does… Broadway and DIVAS: From Stage To Screen will be ending each night of the Fringe with a bang! Following their 5 star, sell out debut in 2019 they are being hosted by Captivate Theatre in their new home of the Rose Theatre.

Arts News!

Scottish opera Breath Cycle workshops – a personal experience

Earlier this year I received an unusual press release from Scottish Opera – instead of news of a forthcoming production, this dropped into my inbox:

further SESSIONS OF SCOTTISH OPERA’S ONLINE PROJECT BREATH CYCLE, for people SUFFERING FROM LONG COVID AND OTHER breathing difficulties, BEGIN this month

as a classically trained singer who for various reasons was currently unable to sing and last year was diagnosed with blood clots in my lungs which for some months seriously affected my breathing, I thought I’d investigate…

Breath Cycle began as a partnership between Scottish Opera and Glasgow’s Gartnavel General Hospital Cystic Fibrosis Service to explore whether learning classical singing techniques, including breath control, could improve the wellbeing of cystic fibrosis patients. The materials were created as part of a study into how singing techniques, including breathing exercises could replicate the effects of conventional physiotherapy to increase lung function.  

The new Breath Cycle workshops were very successful in their first term, with participants reporting improvement in a range of areas, such as anxiety, loneliness and confidence in addition to benefits to their physical health. One said they could ‘already tell (Breath Cycle) will be of great support’ to them, with another adding the online workshops ‘brightened up’ their week.

Jane Davidson, Scottish Opera’s Director of Outreach and Education said: ‘We’re delighted to be able to offer the programme for a second term starting in January. The Breath Cycle workshops have proven to be a perfect way for our participants, all of whom suffer from Long Covid or other long term lung conditions, to take a moment for their own wellbeing each week.

Gordon MacGregor, Respiratory Consultant at the Department of Respiratory Medicine of Queen Elizabeth University Hospital said: ‘Breath Cycle has been a fantastic project which was first launched in 2013 for people with Cystic Fibrosis. These new sessions provide a platform to work with patients with a range of lung conditions which allows them to exercise their lungs while having fun. This is absolutely key as it keeps them engaged and active in their lung health programme – it’s easy to take part and it’s rewarding.

‘We know how important lung health is to our overall wellbeing, and particularly now, where we’re seeing new patients who may be suffering from breathing issues related to Long Covid, so any treatment which can help address that and offers patients a treatment plan they can stick to, is a positive step.’

So – how was it for me?  I wasn’t able to attend the first workshop, so I approached the second one with great trepidation, afraid both that I’d be unable to do anything and that in the not-doing I’d make a complete fool of myself.

I needn’t have worried!  Regular and frequent use of Zoom meant that I was perfectly comfortable with joining the workshops from a tech point of view, and the welcome and encouragement from the group leaders when I expressed my fears meant that I was able to relax and explore what I and my voice might be able to do.  It also helped that the participants were all muted, so whatever noises we made weren’t shared with the rest of the class!

Each week’s session began with a gentle physical warm-up, for which you could sit or stand – or on one memorable occasion, do the whole thing lying on the floor!  This was followed by a gentle vocal warm up – our favourite one being the Fun Fruit and Vegetable Warm-up – and an introduction to the week’s song.  It didn’t matter if you’d never heard the song before: it was taught line by line, with the sheet music shared on the screen if you were able to read the notes [or just followed their ups and downs].  It was a joy to encounter both familiar and new songs – I particularly loved the Eriskay Love Lilt which I learned in school aeons ago, and The Rose – new to me, but still lingering: some say love, it is a river/ that drowns the tender reed: while Daniela’s fabulous tango milonga sentimental was a joy to listen to [but not attempt to sing!].

As I’ve said, no-one else could hear what noise you were making, and we were encouraged to report our experience using the chat function.  Some people found the high notes hard, others [like me] simply failed to sing low notes: the workshop leaders were very good at responding to the chat comments and engaging with individuals if they had a specific problem which others were likely to share.  Some weeks we went into breakout rooms with individual leaders, which meant it was easier for some of us to share personal difficulties and have possible approaches suggested to us. 

All the time we were encouraged to do what we could, and not do anything that either hurt or didn’t work for us.  I think the range of singing experience among us was very wide, but the language used to describe the exercises was designed to ensure that no-one would feel left out or be unable to understand what we were being asked to do.  It was fascinating to find that one leader’s favourite exercise was another’s nightmare – one size truly doesn’t fit all, especially when it comes to singing!

We were continually reminded to take a break if we needed to – not everyone can sustain an hour even of gentle exercise – and each week also contained an ‘everyone’ break, during which one of the leaders would sing or play something gentle: so we got to hear them as performers as well as teachers.  The sessions would always end with a gentle ‘winding down’ meditation, after which those who wished to could stay on to chat, give feedback, or ask questions.

The workshop leaders were friendly, supportive and encouraging, and the feedback from participants was universally positive.   A community feeling grew up among those of us who took part ‘live’ – and I gather that a sizeable number of people who couldn’t join us worked with the recordings of the sessions, the links for which were sent out each week after the class.  The final class was both rejoicing and sad – celebrating everything we’d each achieved, unilaterally thanking the workshop leaders for the astounding difference the workshops had made to our lives, and desolated to think that lunchtime on Wednesday would no longer be the fun high spot of our week. 

My personal experience was definitely life-changing.  Having struggled for years with a voice that used to be pretty damn good and now was a wreck which I knew would take more time and energy than I possessed to get back into anything like reasonable nick, I discovered that I could sing, and enjoy singing – not particularly well by my standards, but sing without having to struggle to make anything come out, or contend with huge [and distressing] gaps in the voice.  Wearing my Quaker hat, I took part in a number of ecumenical events and, for the first time in years, was able to join in the hymns without stressing about it.  I’ve even found myself singing quietly to myself around the house, something I’ve not done for years.  I now know that, should I want to take this further and get back into singing in some way or other, I have the tools to help myself make a start.

A parallel song-writing course ran alongside Breath Cycle, and in our final session some of their work was sung to us.  Linda’s song, describing a week in the life of her and her voice, sang about the pains and pleasures of trying to get the voice back, whole, again. At the end of her week my laugh is back: hallo voice, I’ve missed you – did you miss me too?  Linda spoke for so many of us with her song.  Thank you so much, Scottish Opera and Breath Cycle – you’ve changed so many people’s lives for the better.

Another Breath Cycle series begins this month, and hopefully more will follow.  If you have problems with your breathing, for whatever reason, do get in touch with Scottish Opera.  You don’t have to be a singer or read music, you just need to want to help yourself get a bit healthier – and you’ll have great fun too!

Mary Woodward

Arts News!

Restrictions and the Fallout

Covid Restrictions take toll on Scottish Venues:

The First Minister confirmed on Tuesday 11th January the restrictions for indoor venues would not be lifted, (despite outdoor stadia having there restrictions lifted from the 17th January) with only an indicative date of 24th January as a lifting date our theatres have had to cancel and reschedule may upcoming productions. So let’s ahead round the country for a quick Update.

Edinburgh:

The Playhouse:

Edinburgh’s Playhouse Theatre

Scotland’s largest Theatre the Playhouse was due to host the Scottish Premier of the UK tour of the acclaimed musical “Waitress” originally scheduled from 18th to 22nd January, the greenside venue confirmed a postponement then producers of the show have confirmed the show will come to the Playhouse from Tuesday 19th to Saturday 23rd April following its Scottish Debut at the Glasgow King’s. The theatre will contact with current ticket holders to confirm their respective new dates. All other booked productions are continuing to play their respective runs as of this writing.

The Festival and King’s Theatre Edinburgh:

Capital Theatres operate the King’s, Festival and Studio Theatres in Edinburgh

It has been a particular torrid time for the team at Capital Theatres (the team who run the Festival, King’s and Studio theatres in the Capital city). They have confirmed the tour of “Bring It On” the musical tour scheduled to play Edinburgh from the 15th of February has been cancelled and will not play beyond its current dates at the Southbank centre. 

The same fate has befallen the UK tour of “Fatal Attraction” which was due to play the Edinburgh King’s from the 1st of February. The UK tour of “Fat Friends The musical” scheduled for the Festival Theatre from 1stMarch has been postponed and also removed from the venues scheduled.

A major blow is the National Theatre’s UK tour production of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” scheduled to play the Festival Theatre from Tuesday 15th February has been cancelled. This is solely due to Scottish restrictions as the production will play the Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield on those dates instead. Scottish Audiences can see the Show at the Kings Theatre Glasgow from 5th April.

Finally the Festival Theatre was to start 2022 with the acclaimed production of Disney’s “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” from the 19th January. Thankfully producers have announced new dates and the Production will run from Wednesday 16th February and the venue will contact ticket holders accordingly. All other performances at the Edinburgh King’s, Festival and Studio theatres are currently planned to run as scheduled.

Elsewhere in Edinburgh and the East Coast:

Edinburgh’s Usherhall

As of publication the Brunton Theatre Musselburgh, The Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh, The Traverse Theatre are unaffected as of this writing. However the Usherhall Edinburgh have paused ticket sales for “Get Organised”, “ELO Again” and “BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra-Saint-Saens ‘organ’ Symphony” check there websites for further info.

Glasgow:

Glasgow King’s

The King’s Theatre Glasgow

The Smash hit west end sensation “The Book of Mormon” was scheduled to play Glasgow King’s from 17thJanuary. This has been cancelled and hopefully new dates are announced soon. The production will play The Edinburgh Playhouse from 13th of September.

Theatre Royal Glasgow

The Theatre Royal Glasgow

The Theatre Royal have confirmed “No such thing as a fish” scheduled for Sunday 16th January has been rescheduled to Sunday 4th September. Also “Rhod Gilbert- The Book of John” booked for Sunday 23rdJanuary has been rescheduled to Tuesday 24th May. All Other productions are schedule to play as booked.

Aberdeen:

His Majesty’s Theatre Aberdeen

His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen have confirmed cancellation of Scottish Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” with no plans to reschedule. Also the production of “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” scheduled to play from 25th January has been cancelled.  As of this writing other shows remain unaffected.

Inverness:

The Eden Court Theatre, Inverness

As of this writing, The Eden Court theatre in Inverness is fairing the best, with no announced cancellations or rescheduled dates. Keep an eye on their website for more details.

Summing up:

The vast bulk of our venues are affected by the ongoing restrictions, we hope that the Government lift these restrictions on the indicative date of the 24th of January and urgently deliver the promised funding support. When the curtains do rise, its more vital than ever that audiences support their local theatres and beyond as they recover from the pandemic and these latest restrictions forced on them.

Arts News!

Letter to the First Minister of Scotland

Dear Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister for Scotland,

Today, Tuesday 11th January 2022 you made an announcement to parliament regarding ongoing restrictions in Scotland in relation to the Omicron Covid Pandemic. 

You confirmed that the restrictions on capacity at outdoor venues will be lifted as of the 17th of January, but all other restrictions remain in place with an indicative date of 24th January as a possible easing date. First Minister this is a catastrophic decision on the part of the cabinet and the Scottish Government.

The arts industry was getting back onto its feet prior to Christmas 2021 when the announcement was made that a maximum of 200 people could enter a theatre for a socially distant performance a completely unviable prospect for any venue. Therefore, the curtains came down across the country many of which were mid Pantomime season, a season which is the lifeline for many venues. Causing huge financial loses for theatres, creatives and staff from across the arts spectrum. To date there has been no financial support received from the government or an indication of when this may come.

The decision announced today that allows 65,000 plus sit in Murrayfield for the Rugby matches with 50% Covid pass check but doesn’t allow for 3000 to sit in the Edinburgh Playhouse with 100% covid pass checks is at its least galling and deeply unfair to our industry as well as vast swathes of the Hospitality industry equally as effected by these decisions made today.

It’s been agreed and even said by yourself that we must now learn to live with this virus as it moves from pandemic to endemic and for many these latest restrictions have had little meaningful benefit in stemming the latest wave.

We all appreciate and accept the need for ongoing caution, but it’s now becoming a situation of being overly cautious and damaging lives financially not to mention the toll on mental health.

Many of our free-lance and front of house workers have not worked since Christmas eve, with no income or support things are at a desperate stage. Today’s announcements have seen the Scottish premiers of “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” and “Waitress, The Musical “being cancelled or reschedule causing a knock-on effect to so many.

You say the decisions have always been guided by the science and the data, but you have never clearly shown this science and data to us and have admitted it’s difficult to identify the link from restrictions to benefits.

If we are to live with this virus, then we must do that collectively, if it’s possible for stadia to be at full capacity with mitigations then so too should our theatres, nightclubs and indoors sports venues be given the same chance.

The time for damaging and controlling restrictions is now passing, and while we accept the need for mitigations, we must learn to live life with the virus instead of in fear of it. Indicative dates are of no use First Minister, The arts and other industry need confirmed dates and information in order to plan for reopening, not endless what if’s.

First Minister if these highly damaging restrictions must continue, we ask for the science and data that clearly demonstrates the benefit of such action, as oppose to an exercise in control and further please bring forward the financial support now to ensure those in our industry can survive until the curtains can rise, that is of course is if there is even a curtain to go up.

Yours truly,

Brett Herriot

Editor, Scotsgay Arts.