With the performance of Twelfth Night which took place in the StAge on the 10thof April as part of the On The Rocks Festival, Shakespeare’s beloved comedy has now been performed every year in St Andrews for the last four years. This, however, was definitely the most unique and, in more ways than one, the most impressive production.
The coming of a New Year’s On the Rocks can bring with it a host of new events, with more theatre, art and music than you could shake a stick at –but a guaranteed staple has always been the Blind Mirth Sketch Show. Typically, an improv comedy group, once a year during OTR, Blind Mirth turns their talents to sketch comedy writing, bringing their wit to the masses on the Byre main stage. This year’s production, Mirth Control, while funny, lacked some of the charm of previous shows, occasionally over using tired tropes that seemed more suited to the 1970s.
I had very little idea what to expect from Director Hannah Ritchie’s all-female production of King Lear. It represents her first directing project in St Andrews, and features a cast of proven talent and some new faces. The play is generally considered one of Shakespeare’s finest, but it is also notoriously difficult to stage. It’s very long (uncut it can run as long as four hours), deals with incredibly complex themes, and the role of Lear itself is a challenge even to veteran Shakespearean actors, often seen as the Everest of theatre. With these factors in mind, I was curious to see how well a group of young women could pull this off.
As a Highlander, I have never been one to say no to a ceilidh and the Ceilidh in the Castle was not an event I was likely to miss. The mid-week weather forecast threatened the end of the gloriously sunny weather and thus the outdoor location of this event. The backup venue, the Boys Brigade hall, is perfectly adequate but would not have been able to accommodate the 330 ticket-purchasers who would have been sorely disappointed with a humdrum hall when they were promised historic castle ruins. Fortunately, the grey skies cleared to give way to bright blue and the event proceeded as planned.
At 372 miles above earth, there is nothing to carry sound.
No air pressure.
Life in space is impossible.
Do I dare? was an event that immediately shouted out to me when I first read the On the Rocks program for 2015. Having studied Sylvia Plath’s ‘The Bell Jar’ at A-Level and having been a great fan of Ted Hughes since I was about 12, I couldn’t wait to experience an amalgamation of the two in a poetic telling of their life together.
The sun is shining, birds are chirping, daffodils are blooming, and students are spread out on lawns across town. Spring is in the air. To this lovely Wednesday afternoon On the Rocks brought Music, Art and Earth, hosted by the Art Society, the A Cappella Society, and Transition. The event was held at the Botanic Gardens during the afternoon with flowerpots for decorating, seeds for planting, and featured musical performances by a number of St Andrews’ wonderfully talented a cappella groups.
I could hear the Cuban music as I climbed to the top floor of the Byre, already a few early arrivals were congregated around the doors into the studio. Peering into the dark, musical space revealed that the curtains had been pulled back to expose a wall of mirrors and the chairs moved to create a large square space. It was starting to feel like summer and the influence of an uncharacteristically warm day had the space full of anticipation. I ran into a few friends who were just as eager as I to get started. Shortly 30+ people gathered in the room and once everyone was settled the music was turned down and the workshop introduced. Hosted by the Hispanic society they gave a short introduction as to what would happen.
It has always amazed me how expressive the human body can be: the slow curve of the back, the fold of the legs, even the flip of a ponytail can convey the bitter sorrow of heartbreak or the uncontainable joy of freedom. There is such power and tension in each sinew, in every aching stretch of muscle and the name Surface Tension was perfect for this beautifully well-choreographed, emotionally charged showcase of 5 incredible dances.