New project puts the voice of the Berwickshire community centre stage

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Members of coastal communities in Berwickshire will create and perform a major new multi-arts theatre production.

This new large-scale work will explore the relationship between coastal communities and the sea and will premiere in Eyemouth in 2020 before going on to be performed as part of the 2020 Scottish International Storytelling Festival in Edinburgh.

With a working title People and the Sea, will tell stories of current day living in the coastal communities of Eyemouth, Coldingham, Burnmouth and surrounding areas.

The community cast will be central to creating and realising the work – coming up with ideas, capturing stories, writing the script and shaping other production aspects such as music, movement and audio visuals.

Eleanor Logan, the production’s producer and musical director, explained: “This project will enable people living in Berwickshire coastal communities to reflect on living in a coastal community and share their experiences and thoughts.

“Lots of things are happening which impact on life, living and making a living.

“We want to capture this and enable people to share how it affects them and also hopes for the future.

“A community cast had performed two quite distinct versions of the play Get Up and Tie Your Fingers, which was centred around the impact of the Eyemouth Fishing Disaster of 1881.

“This play had involved story telling, song and dance with an all age cast.”

Eleanor continued: “It was a great experience for all involved. As well as having a lot of fun, we all learnt a lot about creating a piece of descriptive and evocative theatre.

“The appetite for this never left us all but we didn’t want to keep looking to the past. We wanted to look at the experiences of people living today in coastal communities such as Eyemouth.

“It is an open book at the moment.

“We want people of the coastal communities around Eyemouth, Coldingham, Burnmouth and St Abbs to tell us their stories and this could be about anything around the central theme of living in a coastal community.

“It might be about how they came to live here, or why they chose to stay here, how their community is changing, what is shaping life in their community, or a place which is memorable to them in their community.

“We will be going out to gather stories from people – in workplaces, in community settings and in the home.”

Work is already underway on the project, with an exploratory workshop held at the weekend.

“As ever we had a lot of fun! We had a go at learning to sing a sea shanty in three parts, as we want some of the production to have song and music in it,” Eleanor said.

“We then worked on some of the stories which people are already writing and did wee performances to each other.

“There was also time for a chat over a cuppa and a biscuit!

People and the Sea will hopefully take to the stage next year.

“We will do performances in Eyemouth but have also already been invited to perform in Edinburgh as part of a festival of Storytelling.

“It’s a real honour to be invited and we will get to perform in the historic Netherbow Theatre in Edinburgh.”

The People and the Sea production is supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland’s Open Project Fund.

The fund offers support for artists, musicians, writers, theatre makers, festivals and organisations working across the arts and creative industries throughout Scotland.

Eleanor said: “We are all delighted to receive the funding support from the National Lottery through Creative Scotland.

“We are so grateful for this support as it really helps to build the skills and experience of people living in Berwickshire communities.

“We need to pay for input from professional artists to guide us, the team running the project and their expenses, video production and editing, hall hire, and also all the costs of actually putting on a production.

“We still have a lot of work to do behind the scenes but more importantly we are looking forward to new people getting involved. 2020 is going to be a busy year for all of us.”

Creative Scotland’s Vanessa Boyd said: “This fascinating new theatre project puts the voice of the Berwickshire local community centre stage.

“Work is already beginning and the producers are now inviting local residents of all ages to take part in writing, acting, singing, and dancing as well as opportunities to be at the heart of a large-scale theatre production, working backstage and on operational elements.”

Anyone who is interested in getting involved can email the project team and also keep an eye on the Facebook page, Eyemouth People and the Sea.