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Warm Up with Family Friendly Folk Drama this Winter

Folk Drama Play in Action

This winter, Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland (TRACS) are once again on a mission to rejuvenate midwinter traditions in Scotland with seasonal folk dramas, to enrich community life and ensure all ages can get involved over the coldest of seasons, connecting the old and new through song and dance, signifying the death and rebirth of a new year.

Play in a Day: The Burdies

Friday 29 December | 11.30am (4hrs) | £5 (SCS £4.50)

Play in a Day: Tam’s Mare Meg

Saturday 27 January | 11.30am (4hrs) | £5 (SCS £4.50)

The Burdies on Fri 29 Dec is the first of two ‘Play in a Day’ sessions (part of Scotland’s Winter Festivals) combining the midwinter custom of ‘Hunting the Wren’ – associated with pagan rituals to signify bringing life back again with the sun – alongside traditional Scottish songs, tunes and stories about the Marriage of Robin Redbreast and Jenny Wren. Script writer Donald Smith explains:

'This is a Folk Play reborn as we’ve uncovered older stuff for the first time in Scotland. All the songs and poems are authentic old sources from Celtic mythology, but combining them in this way is an innovation, alongside the fun of developing the bird characters as an overall chorus, which allowed inclusion of traditional bird lore, such as the corbies (ravens).'

A cast of 10 minimum is needed to bring this new creation from the past to life in what promises to be an engaging and fun day showcasing folk drama. Enjoy costume making utilising lots of ribbons and feathers, adorning bird head frames and learning the tunes that will stick in your head until New Year rolls around.

This fun and silly play has lots of characters and opportunities for joining in and dressing up, to however small or great an extent you wish! Alongside Jenny Wren and Robin Redbreast, there’s a cast of 8 entertaining birds who range from fish nabbers to brave sodgers, with fantastic names…

    • Frozie-Toesie
    • Johnnie Rednosie
    • Wise Owl Wullie
    • Hing Aboot Heron
    • Wee Cock Sparra
    • Doodloo Rooster
    • Eagle King Burdie
    • Goosie Gander

In January we celebrate Burns Night with traditional suppers, ceilidhs and more, but there will also be a chance to experience one of Burns’ most famous poems in folk drama form. Tam o’ Shanter is an old Scottish legend that was later turned into a narrative poem by Robert Burns. Burns uses this legend as a basis to craft a wonderful poem about Tam who never takes the advice of his wife Kate. He stays out at all hours drinking, until one night poor Tam has to flee for his life from witches, gathered to dance to the devil’s bagpipes.

Donald Smith’s reworking of the poem for use in the folk drama sees the focus being placed on Tam’s faithful horse, with the title Tam’s Mare Meg, showcased at the Centre on Sat 27 Jan. There are other animal characters – Tam’s dog Luath and sheep Mailie, and room for some moosies and burdies too - plus, the crucial role of the witches will need to be filled by those who can give a good screech!

Speaking about the day, Smith says:

'Everybody thinks they know about Burns, but we don’t really. He’s a much richer, broader topic and exploring the themes of Burns with this folk drama will showcase the genius of Scotland’s Bard as well as inform participants in the subtleties of this classic folk tale: by being in it sometimes we can understand it better.'

There is also the opportunity to get involved in workshops on the art of Folk Drama, with informal and informative sessions preceding both performances: Folk Drama - Resources and Skills is on Thu 28 Dec and Fri 26 Jan.

Part of Scotland’s Winter Festivals

Play in a Day: The Burdies

Friday 29 December | 11.30am (4hrs) | £5 (SCS £4.50)

Play in a Day: Tam’s Mare Meg

Saturday 27 January | 11.30am (4hrs) | £5 (SCS £4.50)