Drama in the great outdoors

Nutshell Theatre Company will perform 'Allotment' at four outdoor Fife venues this summer''Pic by Eamonn McGoldrick
Nutshell Theatre Company will perform 'Allotment' at four outdoor Fife venues this summer''Pic by Eamonn McGoldrick

FIFERS will have the chance to enjoy some theatre outdoors next month when Nutshell Theatre Company brings its award-winning show to the Kingdom.

‘Allotment’ will be performed at four outdoor venues in Kirkcaldy, Lochgelly, Glenrothes and Dunfermline, in conjunction with On at Fife.

But it’s not just the play, which is the first in Nutshell’s ‘Still Points in a Turning World’ trilogy the theatre company is bringing to the Kingdom - there is also a unique outreach planting project accompanying the tour and aiming at bringing together different community groups.

Kate Nelson, directory, explained: “The trilogy idea came out of actually working with playwright Jules Horne.

“We were interested in a few different areas and creating a piece of theatre based on the start of a story and how that starts, whether it’s a place, an object or whatever.

“Starting with a place, which is allotment and the second play, ‘Thread’ starts with an object, which is a sewing box.

“People have their own specific way of doing certain things and they always do it the same way.

“We think that will be the basis for the third one, but we’re not sure what that’s going to be yet.

“We wanted to create a piece of theatre we would couple with an evolving outreach and education programme.”

The education and outreach programme aims to set up projects offering participants a legacy within their local communtiy, helping to foster links and reduce isolation.

In the case of ‘Allotment’, the project pairs up local mother and toddler groups with older people to come together once a week to plant seeds and grow the living set for the show.

“We wanted to create something with three parts which could travel alongside the play, but also has a legacy,” says Kate.

“We don’t go in to the communities with a hit and run approach and we hope the community will feel that they are a part of it.

“We’re not just rushing in, doing drama workshops with some young people and leaving again.

“We wanted to do more than that which is why we’ve come up with what we have.

“Not everyone enjoys drama, but a lot of people enjoy being creative, like painting, drawing, planting and gardening.

“That’s the reason why we’re doing this.

“We have got four towns in Fife involved - Kirkcaldy, Dunfermline, Glenrothes and Lochgelly - and it’s all just starting.

“We’re still looking for people to take part in Dunfermline and Glenrothes so if there’s anyone interested, older or younger people, it’s open to everyone they should contact their local On at Fife venue.

“Those involved in the project will plant the living set for the show and they’ll be invited along to see the set and the show itself.

“The outreach programme that accompanies our second show, ‘Thread’ will be craft based and the work produced by those people involved in the project will also feature at the performances.”

Nutshell is carrying out this project in Fife under the umbrella of On at Fife, funded via Change Fund, Community Interventions Fund which is supported by CVS Fife and this work contributes to the Reshaping Care for Older People agenda with additional funding from Creative Scotland.

Set in an allotment, the play will be performed in the gardens of two of Fife’s theatres - Carnegie Hall and Lochgelly Centre - as well as in two community allotments, one in Ravenscraig Walled Garden, Kirkcaldy and the other in Balbirnie Walled Garden, Markinch.

Kate told the Press: “On At Fife have been great and we’re performing in the gardens of two of their theatres.

“Peter Duncan from Fife Council is in charge of the allotments and he has been a tremendous help.

“We’re thrilled they have been so supportive.’’

So what can Fifers expect from the play?

“The show is about two sisters who can’t live with one another and can’t live without each other.

“It’s the story of their lives and how they are woven together, but also it’s quite a dark story with a lot of laughs running through it.

“It’s about how love ties you and binds you in ways you don’t expect.

“Family ties can be very strong and sometimes that can be a blessing or a curse.

“It’s that idea they are not mutually exclusive.

“It’s something that a lot of people recognise when they come to see it. It’s that push and pull of family relationships.

“Anyone coming along should have a good night out.

“It’s good fun with some serious ideas.

“We aim to produce intelligent but entertaining theatre. I think you can have both.

“It’s about telling stories and making people stop and think for a bit, cry, laugh and nod their heads.”

The play was created with the intention of being performed in the outdoor setting, and takes place whatever the weather.

“Folk may worry about it,” continues Kate, “especially as we’re having a really cold June, but they will have a nice hot cup of tea and a scone while they watch, that’s part of the ticket.

“If the rain comes on the audience just have to put their umbrellas up.

“That’s the main thing, the audience have to come equipped for the weather and the terrain.

“It’s amazing in the rain though.

“An awful lot of people have seen it in the rain at the Edinburgh Fringe last year and they said it was really quite special.

“The actresses quite like performing in the rain. It’s quite mad but it still works.

“We performed it one day in absolute torrents of rain and that was some of the best feedback we’ve had.”

‘Thread’, the second play in the trilogy will premiere at the Edinburgh Fringe this August before it comes to Fife on tour in October.

However, the third and final instalment in the series remains a mystery.

Kate added: “It’s still in the very early stages.

“It’s more like a twinkle in my eye and a twinkle in Jules’ eye.

“We’re not sure what we’re going to do with it yet, we’re still bouncing ideas about.”