New Heights For Dumfries And Galloway Arts Festival

The 38th Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival begins tonight Friday evening and Edinburgh-based theatrical performer Phil Hardie showcased an aerial spectacular in Dumfries’ Dock Park last week to promote his forthcoming festival residency.

Phil put on an energetic display on Chinese poles to a captivated audience and will be holding a workshop in physical theatre at the Stove in the town’s High Street, on 24 May before his full performance at the Theatre Royal on the evening of 28 May.

Welcome My Son is a highly acclaimed show based on the story of Frankenstein and exploring the themes of social conformity, isolation, prejudice and abandonment. It has been described as an “extraordinary moving and intensely physical performance” with a depth of understanding of character “spell-binding.”

The festival kicks off on Friday evening with Karine Polwart and her critically-acclaimed solo piece of musical theatre, Wind Resistance. The show takes place at the Easterbrook Hall, Dumfries, and will herald the start of the festival programme which includes top quality music, theatre, comedy, dance and the spoken word for 10 days.

Continuing in the ground-breaking solo theatre theme, award-winning Scots musician Mairi Campbell will bring her “life-affirming” show Pulse to New Galloway and Dumfries on 2 and 3 June. In Pulse, Mairi sings, acts, plays and dances the story of her musical homecoming and journey of the heart, weaving live viola, voice, animation, movement and storytelling with tracks from her latest album.

The amazing Blazin’ Fiddles comprise some of the hottest contemporary fiddle players from the Highlands and Islands and they will be sharing their blistering show with Bellevue Rendezvous in Newton Stewart on 31 May and with top young Scots trad singers Robyn Stapleton and Claire Hastings in Dumfries on 1 June.

Returning to the region for another residency is the world-class classical string orchestra, the Scottish Ensemble. Once again, these talented and highly acclaimed musicians will be holding workshops with young people, collaborating with local artists, bringing a bit of decadence to Dumfries with one of their popular tea dances and performing concerts. They will play out the festival on Sunday, 4 June in a rousing performance of their Eastern Europe Express at the Theatre Royal, Dumfries.

More musical highlights of the 2017 festival include concerts by the Tinderbox Orchestra, The Universities of Scotland Orchestra, Fodens Band, the Daleian Singers with Robyn Stapleton and Bellevue Rendevous with Jenn Butterworth and Laura Beth Salter, and the return of the Early Music Forum with music sessions and a concert by world-class musicians from the Border Waites.

Scottish Opera will once again bring “little bits” of opera to Threave and Port Logan inside a big touring bus and Absolute Classics invites its audiences in Thornhill and Dumfries to experience the delights of two of Blüthner’s internationally acclaimed pianists: Mei Yi Foo and Yuki Negishi who will play on 27 and 28 May respectively.

This year’s theatre programme features a diverse range of brilliant and challenging solo shows by some of the UK’s most respected performing artists. Emily Carding delivers her fabulous take on Richard III, while popular Scottish Playwright Alan Bisset brings his hilarious Moira Monologues to the region’s stages. A special ticket offer applies to see both of these shows either on 3 or 4 June in New Galloway, Dumfries and Sanquhar. Paines Plough return to the region with their “funny, clever and surprisingly uplifting” performance of Every Brilliant Thing which will play out in Wigtown on 30 May.

Comedy takes centre stage on 26 and 27 May, when the “profoundly hilarious” Scots comedian Mark Nelson teams up with Ireland’s funny-man Micky Bartlett for an evening of laughter and fun from both sides of the Irish Sea to audiences in Annan and Stranraer. Award-winning comedian Ruth E Cockburn will be holding workshops and a laugh out loud comedy show on 28 May in Dumfries.

The relationship between people and the sea is explored in two very different styles of events during the festival’s 10-day run. On the weekend of Saturday, 27 to Monday 29 May, Sandyhills beach, near Dalbeattie, is the venue for a unique experience of soundscape and sculpture when Vision Mechanics present their innovative and captivating production, Drift. Saturday, 3 June sees the launch of an exciting new exploration that creates connections and collaborations between the region’s four shorelines. Four of the finest living poets from these areas will read and discuss their work with cultural commentators representing the shorelines, revealing new insights and perspectives.

As a prelude to the festival, the National Theatre of Scotland return to the region on 23 and 24 May, to bring their fantastic women in wartime production, The 306:Day, to Wigtown and Lockerbie. Inspired by real events and first-hand accounts, story follows the lives of three ordinary women fighting to be heard above the clamour of World War I.

These are just a few of the highlights of the 2017 Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival and there is so much more, including a lively festival fringe featuring music by the likes of Donnie Munro in Langholm, Sammy Rimington in Dumfries, and Heidi Talbot in New Galloway; a crime writer’s talk and murder mystery in Wigtown; drama in Moffat and Castle Douglas; and a spooky graveyard shift in Dumfries, courtesy of popular Dumfries ghost hunters Mostly Ghostly.

Programmes are available from outlets across the region or online from www.dgartsfestival.org.uk

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