Far, Far From Ypres tour is part of Scotland’s Armistice centenary programme


16 May 2018 – DUMFRIES – A critically acclaimed multimedia production featuring renowned Scots performers including Barbara Dickson and Siobhan Miller will visit the Theatre Royal on Sunday 28 October as part of a commemorative tour of Scotland to mark the centenary of World War One.

Forming part of Scotland’s Armistice centenary programme, Far, Far From Ypres uses the songs of the trenches to tell the story of the Scottish war effort and will visit ten venues across the country throughout the centenary of the final hundred days of the war. The tour is being delivered by WW100 Scotland in partnership with Legion Scotland and Poppyscotland.


The show was devised, written and produced by Ian McCalman of folk group The McCalmans to highlight the unique insight the songs offer into the life of a soldier. It shares the hope, suffering, endurance and fear associated with the war through the eyes of fictional, prototypical soldier, Jimmy MacDonald. Like many young men, Jimmy is full of enthusiasm and joins up right away, however, when he is sent to the Flanders trenches he begins to experience the true horrors of war.


Ian McCalman commented: “During the war, soldiers sang together to bond and alleviate fear, sharing songs from contemporary music halls as well as creating their own. However, looking back on the music of the war today, we can see how attitudes towards the conflict changed over its course. From the early, jingoistic songs that promoted recruitment and betrayed an innocence about the reality of war, through to the resignation, black humour and resentment present in the later songs, the progression reflects the bitterness which grew among troops as they became disenchanted.
“The songs provide powerful context to key events in an era very different from our own, and with Far, Far From Ypres, we have harnessed their power and accessibility to bring the story of the war to our audience in an engaging, multimedia production that educates and lingers. The entire cast is excited and honoured to be bringing the production to communities across the country as part of the WW100 Scotland commemorative programme, and we look forward to sharing the story of Jimmy McDonald – representing so many young soldiers of the war – with thousands.”


The cast of 26 performers, including Scottish folk scene favourites such as Barbara Dickson, Siobhan Miller, Dick Gaughan, Ian McCalman, Iain Anderson, Professor Gary West, Stephen Quigg and Ian Bruce, will also visit Selkirk, Aberdeen, Oban, Portree, Ullapool, Dundee, Stirling, Inverness and Edinburgh, all of which were closely associated with Scottish regiments and therefore at the heart of recruitment during the war. The tour will come to a close with a performance at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh on Armistice Day.


The show will also incorporate stories about local men at each performance, which are being sourced as part of a community engagement project led by Legion Scotland. Working with the likes of schools, youth groups and history societies, the veterans charity is helping research the local area’s contribution to the war in order that these stories might be preserved and passed down to future generations.


Professor Norman Drummond, chair of the Scottish Commemorations Panel appointed to oversee the WW100 commemorations on behalf of the Scottish Government, said: “By the end of the war, thousands of men from Scotland had gone valiantly to the frontline, a high proportion of whom never returned. For many survivors, devastating injuries and the trauma of war changed their lives forever, while the nation as a whole grieved the vast loss of loved ones.


It is vital that we continue to commemorate these losses today, and the Far, Far From Ypres tour, a key part of Scotland’s Armistice centenary programme, will carry this message to people of all ages across the country as we encourage families to attend with all generations in tow for what will be a highly moving and educational experience.”


Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop, said: “World War I had a devastating impact on our nation, with no town or village unaffected. The Far, Far From Ypres tour, part of the broader programme of activity to commemorate Scotland’s Armistice centenary, will ensure that we continue to learn more about and reflect on what we have learned from the First World War.


“Until the end of 2018, through a series of events taking place across Scotland, Scots can continue to reflect on the devastating impact of WWI and its lasting social and civic legacy, ensuring that the brave soldiers who fought in one of the world’s most brutal conflicts will never be forgotten.”


Lyndsay Walker, Marketing and Communications Officer at Theatre Royal Dumfries said: “We are honoured to be part of the Far, Far From Ypres tour as part of the Armistice centenary programme and are looking forward to welcoming the cast to Scotland’s oldest theatre.  It’s incredibly important to mark this centenary, and to be able include stories of local soldiers who went to war adds to the poignancy.”


The Dumfries performance of Far, Far From Ypres will take place at the Theatre Royal on Sunday 28 October at 7:30pm. Tickets cost £15 (£10 concession). For more information and to book visit https://theatreroyaldumfries.ticketsolve.com/shows/873589176 or call 01387 254209.

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