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Caithness News Bulletins May 2004

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Grey Coast – North Highland College co-production on tour in Caithness and Sutherland

Four young Caithnessians, coming to the end of their first year as drama students at North Highland College in Thurso, will take to the road this weekend as their new play, From A Flagstone Floor, begins a week-long tour of theatre, hotels and village halls around Caithness and Sutherland.

Helen Mackay, Jacqueline Barclay, Iain MacDonald and Calum Greig wrote the play and will be performing it for communities across the north under the banner of the Thurso-based Grey Coast Theatre.

The unique co-production between college and theatre company opens this Saturday night, 29 May, at Britannia Hall in Dunnet, where the action is set.   See Below for further performances

Some Cast Members

Four siblings return to the croft for the death of their mother and cracks appear and grow in their relationships, as they struggle with the pressures and dilemmas that beset young people faced with life in Caithness and the draw of the big world.

The production is directed by Katherine Morley, who previously worked with Grey Coast on the Song of Wick project, which brought the four Wick primaries together in a moving and musical celebration of the town.

Grey Coast Theatre is delighted with the students' work and dedication. Artistic Director George Gunn said "From a Flagstone Floor is the result of a productive collaboration between the drama students and the professionals of Grey Coast Theatre Company. The script is all their own work. The production is built around the students by Grey Coast but it is absolutely the student's show.

"The Drama course at North Highland College is a welcome initiative in the field of performing arts training and will add greatly to the establishment and development of a truly north Highland theatre culture."

Donald MacBeath, Assistant Principal at North Highland College, said the production represented the culmination of the first stage of the college's drama strategy, which will next year introduce a Higher National Diploma and subsequently a degree course, as the curriculum and a staff team are developed.

Meanwhile this year's students have the opportunity to apply their writing skills and gain experience in public performance and professional touring. "The College’s management team has been impressed with how the students have progressed and with the impact they've made on the community," said Mr MacBeath.

The students agree that the intensity of the professional rehearsals was good preparation and that touring, rather than simply staging the show in one venue, has made it a particularly challenging experience.

While the script was developed as part of the college course, the tour was made possible by a grant from Leader+, a European funding programme designed to improve life in the North Highland area through, amongst other things, initiatives involving young people.

The Leader+ funding has allowed the company to offer all students and secondary pupils in the county the opportunity to see the show for free. Young people wishing to take up this offer should book their tickets through the Grey Coast office.

After the Dunnet show, the student company will perform at Skerray Hall (31 May), Mackays Hotel in Wick (1 June), Brora Primary School (2 June), Lyth Arts Centre (3 June), the Portland Arms in Lybster (4 June) and the Mill Theatre in Thurso (5 June). For details and bookings ring 01847 890840.