Press release – for immediate publication
Californian Theatre Students Enthralled by Highland Heritage
American visitors rehearse for Edinburgh Fringe world premiere while learning about the history, culture and languages of the Highlands
A group of theatre students from California are in Glenelg to learn about Highland culture before heading for the Fringe to stage a world premiere.
The 18 young men and women from Pepperdine University, in Malibu, are spending a week with playwright and cultural consultant Eddie Stiven who is introducing them to everything from history and folklore to Gaelic language.
They have described how they have been overwhelmed by their first impressions of the Highlands.
The visit to Scotland is an unparalleled opportunity to learn about other ways of life, work with superb writers, and take part in one of the world’s greatest festivals.
Eddie said: “Coming to the Highlands is a wonderful experience and lets them see a very different side to Scotland than the one they will get in the Central Belt. It’s a chance to be immersed in histories and cultures with roots that go back millennia.
“Many young people from the west coast of America are not used to a landscape where the names all have meanings, and may have stories attached to them which go back hundreds or thousands of years and where the people feel so connected with the landscape.
“Being in a place with no internet or phone signal gives them a chance to relate directly to the reality of where they are rather than some kind of virtual reality.
“Some of them are from families that originally came from Scotland, and for them it’s a chance to find out something of their origins.”
The students will go to Sabhal Mor Ostaig College on Skye to get a taste of Gaelic and a masterclass from Gaelic playwright and actor, Catriona Lexy Campbell. This will give them an insight into how different languages offer people fresh concepts and allow them to see the world in new ways.
They will have a tour of Glenelg’s renowned Pictish broch towers to learn more about pre-Gaelic culture and the important role of powerful women in these early societies.
Eddie has written many plays based on mythology and folklore. He uses the study programme to tell some of these tales to the students and to demonstrate how the structure of these ancient tales can be used by playwrights and scriptwriters to construct dramatic plotlines today.
He said: “We are going to Dun Sgiath on Skye to hear about the legendary boy hero Cuchulainn’s exploits, and how he left there to rescue his beloved Eimer. This is a classic rescue scene, arguably one of the oldest in literature, and how it is constructed and timed within a plot is really a lesson that has been learned by modern dramatists from the old storytellers.”
The students will also learn about Highland hospitality. A ceilidh will be held at the end of the week and the students are all expected to invite people they meet to come along.
Sarah Barney, described her first impressions of the Highlands, saying: “What keeps hitting me is that everything in Scotland has history and weight – because of that everything has meaning. It all adds to the legacy that makes this country so special.”
Katelynn Kutiper added: Everything is so green and amazing – I just keep stopping and looking at things. There are animals everywhere and it’s just beautiful. I love it.”
Chris Bozzini said: “The drive in here was something I wasn’t expecting. I’d never been able to look so far into the distance and see so much, it was breathtaking.”
And Katy Lavelle added: “I love folklore and mythology. On our bus ride we stopped and were told stories, and that’s what this place is to me – an ever-evolving story.”
The time in Glenelg will also be used to rehearse The Interference, a play by Fringe First winning Scottish-based playwright Lynda Radley. The students will then head to Glasgow to carry on rehearsing before going to the Edinburgh Fringe.
The play looks at what happens when a university sports star rapes a fellow student and the disturbing attitudes that lie just under the skin of contemporary society. Realities become distorted, the attacker is portrayed as a wronged man, his victim’s voice is drowned out and justice is at risk as vested interests scramble to defend themselves.
While The Interference is set in an American university, and inspired by events both in the USA and UK, the questions it raises go far beyond the campus.
The programme, including the commissioning of the play, has been organised by Pepperdine Scotland. The time in Glenelg helps the students bond into a theatre group ready to show their skills on the international stage.
Pepperdine University first started presenting performances at the Fringe in 1985, because it gives students the chance to work in a world-class environment. The Interference builds on the success of previous projects including 2012 Scotsman Fringe First Award winner Why Do You Stand There In The Rain? and on Pepperdine Scotland’s interest in issues of social justice.
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Notes to Editors
· The Interference by Lynda Radley is at C Venues 34, Adam House, Chambers Street, Edinburgh from 3 to 16 August.
· The box office is on 0845 2601234 with online booking at www.ctheFestival.com
· Tickets: Weekend and weekday prices vary. Full price £8.50 to £11.50, concessions £7.50 to £9.50, with special prices of £5.50 to £7.50. See www.ctheFestival.comfor the ticket price of each performance.
· Time: 15.45
· Duration: 1 hour 15 minutes
· Age: 12+
Lynda Radley is an award-winning playwright and dramaturg who has been working in professional theatre for over a decade. Her play DORM was recently shortlisted for The Bruntwood Award - one of the UK’s most prestigious new writing awards. She is currently developing plays with the Traverse Theatre, Magnetic North and Stellar Quines. Lynda recently worked as dramaturg for Mark Bruce’s dance version of Dracula which won a South Bank Sky Arts award. In 2011 Lynda won a Scotsman Fringe First for her play Futureproof, a co-production between Dundee Rep Ensemble and the Traverse Theatre. Her solo show The Art of Swimming was short-listed for Meyer Whitworth and Total Theatre awards and toured internationally. Lynda is published by Nick Hern Books. Lynda frequently works as a dramaturg and creative writing practitioner in collaborative processes (National Theatre of Scotland, Citizens Theatre, Tricky Hat, Playgroup, Imaginate, In Cahootz) and adapted Under Milk Wood for the Tron Theatre's Home Nations Festival, part of The Commonwealth Games cultural programme, 2014.
Pepperdine Scotland is the cultural and artistic exchange between Pepperdine University's Department of Theatre and leading members of the Scottish Theatre Community. Its first commission, Peter Arnott’s Why Do You Stand There In The Rain? won a 2012 Scotsman Fringe First Award. Pepperdine has been performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe since 1985, and is proud to have expanded its presence in Scotland since 2012 with this exchange, developed with support from Playwrights' Studio Scotland and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
Pepperdine University is an independent, medium-sized Christian university enrolling approximately 7,700 students in five colleges and schools. Seaver College, the School of Law, the Graduate School of Education and Psychology, the Graziadio School of Business and Management, and the School of Public Policy are located on the University's 830-acre campus overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Malibu. Courses are taught in Malibu, at four graduate campuses in Southern California, permanent programme facilities in Washington, D.C., and at international campuses in Germany, England, Italy, Switzerland, Argentina, and China.
For further information see www.pepperdinedrama.com @peppscotland
Sex crime on the campus
· In 2015 a St Andrew’s University student was jailed for five years for campus sex assaults.
· Last year around 34% of female students polled in UK research for The Daily Telegraph indicated that they had experienced sexual assault or abuse.
· In May this year the Wall Street Journal http://on.wsj.com/1WabLT2 said that reports of sexual assaults on campuses had risen sharply
· In 2014 Time http://ti.me/1l1b6Bs also reported a large increase in sexual assaults.