Thursday, 16 October 2014

Galoshans Are Go!

Haunted Air
As ever at this time of year, we like to give you the opportunity to download our FREE Galoshans / Witch Trial plays for you to entertain and horrify family and friends. And remember, if you do perform the plays, why not record and share them. (yknow...within reason...)

You can hear more about Galoshans and other local traditions, at the Traditions In Place festival this weekend in the Beacon Arts Centre.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Traditions In Place Inverclyde

We're really pleased to help support and promote the Traditions In Place conference which is happening in the Beacon Arts Centre on Saturday 25th October...

A day where local groups and practitioners can come together, share knowledge and find out more about resources for music, dance and story, get some practical organisational support, and look at the prospects for building local networks and connect them up the existing national ones. An important strand might be to look at ways in which local resources – song, story, heritage, knowledge – could be used to develop a distinctive offer to visitors to the area (as opposed to a kind of generic, unrooted Scottish offer).

Aims of the day

· to make connections between local practitioners and organisations across the traditional arts

· to share information about local traditional arts resources

· to introduce the idea of a local trad arts network

· to introduce the idea of a local network taking on a project to make a piece of work linking cultural tourism with traditional arts

· to consider how local people might get involved in Museums and Galleries Scotland’s Living Culture database
Why not read more about Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland and the Once Upon A Place storytelling festival.

Hopefully see some of you along on the day.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Anansi Vs Brer Rabbit

Anansi the spider has cropped up repeatedly in the stories and tales we've explored during our Commonwealth Tales project. He's a classic example of the migration of stories, and in Anansi's case, stories that were originally native to Africa, crossed over into Caribbean and American culture as a direct result of the slave trade.

This is why Trickster Anansi shares many stories and wisdom with Brer Rabbit, so unsurprisingly, more than a few of us were reminded of the Disney film Song of the South - I remember very clearly this being one of the first films we watched in our enormous toploader video in the early eighties. I had a vague notion, that probably, the film was no longer available, like many old Disney films. What I did not realise was that its not available because it's banned. And it's banned because of the offensive way it presented a sort of idealised fictional Deep South in which plantation workers head off to "work" singing Zip A Dee Doodah. I'm pretty sure that went over my head when I was little, just like Mammy Two Shoes in Tom and Jerry did. But it doesn't make it okay. Worst bit of the Disney Song of the South story? Maybe that Uncle Remus actor James Baskett wasn't able to attend the premiere of the film because no hotel would put him up. Nice. Though if he'd actually managed to get over that hurdle, he'd likely have been made to sit at the back of the cinema anyway.

My favourite Uncle Remus Brer Rabbit story is The Laughing Place, We've retold the laughing place story in a slightly more sinister style for our upcoming Uncommon Tales comic, but here, unexpurgated is the version from Song of the South. We aren't sharing it because we think that banning Song of the South is "political correctness gone mad", because it isn't. However, my 8 year old not intentionally racist self, still has a soft spot for the song, enjoy contextually...

Monday, 29 September 2014

Andros Island - The Sleeper

Rounding off a smashing month and the publication of our collection of Commonwealth Tales, here's one that ehm...slipped through the net. Next stop on our Commonwealth Odyssey...Uncommon Tales comic with Sir Glen Douglas Rhodes...

Once upon a time, was a very good time.
Monkey chew tobacco and spit white lime.
Cockaroach keep high low time.

This was a boy One day say to his mama, 'I gwine to look for a  living." His ma say, ''Ah right, son, good behind you, bad before you." The boy went on his journey, and he meet a large broken-down t'atch house. So he went in. He met an old man. The old man was man by the name of Father John. The boy ask the old man to let him sleep there that night. The old man say, 'All right, boy."
Father John used to sleep seven years. This boy didn't know this. It was night, so they went to bed and they slept that night. The nex morning the boy wake, the sun was up, the old man was still snoring, so the boy call, 'Father John! Father John!" The boy call till the sun set. The harder he call, the harder Father John snore. So the boy went to sleep again. The nex' night he sleep all night again
without any food. The nex' morning he get up pretty weak, so he call again. That day the harder he call, the harder Father John snore. So he call all day until seven days, and he died. And Father
John find out that the boy was dead. He get up, he went into the kitchen and set on the big pot and boil the boy. And he sit down and eat the boil boy.

Be bo ben.
My story is end.

From the Journals of the American Folklore Society

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

13 Commonwealth Tales - Out in the Wild

the beautiful people

We had great fun launching our 13 Commonwealth Tales book earlier this month at the Dutch Gable House, and nearly 400 copies were distributed during Doors Open Weekend. Excellent stuff.

We'll be sending  copies out to local schools /libraries throughout October, but in the meantime, if you've missed out, you can still get copies from either 7 1/2 John Wood Street in Port Glasgow or the ground floor of The Dutch Gable House in Greenock. When they're gone, they're gone!

Next month will see the final part of our Commonwealth Tales project - featuring Sir Glen Douglas Rhodes, and we'll also be running an evening of scary stories in Dutch Gable and launching our Time and Place exhibition.

For a change, instead of mythical creatures or monster, here's some photos of members of 'The Torch', as our folklore based biker gang would surely be called, and if you wish, you can also enjoy myself and Mhairi blethering to Inverclyde TV about the project. Big thanks to everyone else who helped on the night, especially bysharonwithlove and milkywithtwo.

zuckerbeckers fonz impression

redandcaramel tells us a story

andy, al, artists

the curator speaks

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Steam! Sugar! Superpowers!

A slightly off topic post from me today, not directly Magic Torch related, but (maybe) of interest to fans of local heritage, folklore and stories.

The Superpower Project is the name of a children's book I wrote late last year. It's set in and around Inverclyde, using a backdrop of the sorts of folklore and legends of the area that are frequently found on this blog and featuring lots of local spaces and places, such as the Tobacco Warehouse, Glebe and the Sugar Sheds.

The book was shortlisted for the Kelpies Prize 2014, and was also shortlisted for the Montegrappa / Scholastic Prize for New Children's Writing 2014 under it's original title of Tin Jimmy.

I'm delighted to be able to say that the book will be published by Kelpies late in 2015. Kelpies are an imprint of Edinburgh based Floris Books and they publish some amazing, award winning Scottish children's fiction. Check out their wonderful new winter publications catalogue.

If you are interested, you can read some of the early draft chapters over on my personal blog.

The Superpower Project
Megan has a secret, a big secret that only her recently exploded Grandmother knows. To uncover the truth behind her secret, she and her best friend Cam must follow an old town map down forgotten roads and disappeared places, through abandoned bomb shelters and railway tunnels, to graveyards and secret passages beneath the river. And all the while, the sinister men from the Waterworx company are watching, with their strangely menacing Public Art sculptures...