Award-winning poet is highlight at festival line-up
The McLellan Arts Festival 2016 is already in full swing and festival-goers can now look forward to the next batch of exciting events. These begin tonight (Friday) with Ricardo Curbelo’s benefit performance for the Music Society in the community theatre where he will take the audience on a colourful and energetic journey through different Latin American countries on harp, cuatro, maracas and vocals.
Then on Saturday (August 20), Arran pays its homage to the bard’s 400 birthday anniversary two shortened Shakespeare plays performed in the community theatre. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a tale of mixed up lovers, wicked spirits and comic bungling amateur thespians and The Tempest, Shakespeare’s last play, a tale of banishment, magic, power and colonisation.
For anyone into writing, whether as a reader or a practitioner, the absolute highlight this year has to be the visit by David Constantine. A multi-award winning poet, translator, novelist and short-story writer, his visit is a major coup for the festival organisers. David worked for 30 years as a university teacher of German language and literature. As well as 10 collections of poems he has written two novels and four volumes of short stories and earlier this year he attracted headlines when Charlotte Rampling won an Oscar nomination for her performance in the film 45 Years, based on his story Another Country. You can see the film, also starring Tom Courtenay, at a special showing in Corrie Hall on Monday August 29 which will be introduced by David.
Another side of Constantine’s career has been as an editor and translator. With his wife Helen he edited the journal ‘Modern Poetry in Translation’ for many years and he and Helen will lead a panel discussion with four local professional translators at Brodick Library on the afternoon of Sunday August 28.
David’s main reason for returning to Arran is to present the £1,000 prize for this year’s McLellan poetry competition, which this year attracted entries from 20 different countries across all five continents. In fact, the winner will be travelling all the way from Seattle to receive the prize on Friday August 27 at the Little Rock Cafe, Brodick. The evening will feature David reading from his own work, readings from the winning poets, and music from harp and whistle duo Arran Dawn.
Also on Saturday, in Whiting Bay Hall, is the super sizzling famous Festival Ceilidh with dancing, music and supper. Included in the line up will be compere Stuart Gough, singer Tim Pomeroy, piper Angus Adamson, Jazz Cafe Band, duo Biff and Tom who make up The Buchaneers and not forgetting the foot stomping Drambusters.
While fans of sacred music will thrill to the wonderful singing of the talented students from the Royal Northern College of Music at a special service in Corrie Church on Sunday August 28 at noon. More of this spectacular talent will be on show at the ever popular Opera Gala on Friday September 2 in the community theatre, Lamlash and on the evening of Sunday September 4 when the students will join with our own McLellan Festival chorus to sing the beautiful Petite Messe Solenelle by Rossini.
A fascinating event for all those who love Arran and good music will take place on Wednesday August 31 when Arran man and entertaining raconteur John Sillars will talk about his memories at An Arran Clamjamfry at Altachorvie. This will be interspersed with fabulous music from Edinburgh duo, Various Moons comprising Colin Donati, poet, songwriter and guitarist and jazz influenced classic cellist, Robin Mason. Various Moons have appeared at various Scottish festivals and literary events, including at the Byre Festival in St Andrews, Steve Kettley’s Click Clack Club, Edinburgh, and at the Anstruther Three Harbours Festival as well as appearing at this year’s Celtic Connections Festival.
The festival aims each year to help young people develop their skills and this year, as well as the opera students, a group of talented drama students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland will bring to Corrie Hall on Saturday September 3 a physical theatre performance based on Watership Down called Project Down, a short film made for children by Katharine O’Donnelly and two short plays devised and developed for the festival.
This year’s programme has something for everyone with tickets available online at arranevents.com and at the Book and Card Centre, Brodick. Tickets will be available at the door for all performances for those making a snap decision, and do remember the bargain festival season ticket for £40, giving you access to all performances except the poetry workshop. Children and young people at school are free at all events.