We’re big fans of Lyth Arts Centre – the most northerly arts centre on the UK mainland. I was given a sneak peek of the Spring programme and in this post I’m excited to share my picks of what’s coming up on the theatre, music and film front! (This post is not sponsored)
We headed out to Lyth (15 minute drive from Wick, 20 minutes from Thurso) many times last season. We enjoyed a varied programme of traditional Scottish music which was completely improvised (Nae Plans), felt the funk of James Brown is Annie, were captivated by a stunning cabaret all about gin, and experienced two ceilidhs – one traditional, and one with a Brazilian twist courtesy of the Scottish Dance Theatre which definitely challenged our comfort zones!
The March-June 2019 programme has now been launched, and Caithness residents should find a physical copy dropping through their letterboxes this week.
Events don’t just take place at Lyth though, there are a number of venues in Caithness and into Sutherland which will be hosting some of the listed events. Lyth Arts Centre have also restructured their pricing for 2019 – full price tickets are £10, concessions are £6 and the booking fee has been abolished (note some performances are priced differntly). A brilliant commitment to making the arts more affordable and accessible in our rural setting. Here’s my top 3 picks for each month as listed in the spring programe, it was SO hard to limit myself to 3!
SPRING PROGRAMME: MARCH
- NORDIC FIDDLERS BLOC – Saturday 2nd March, 8pm:
The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc comprise three master fiddle players from three different and very distinctive Nordic Regions: Kevin Henderson (Shetland); Olav Luksengard Mjelva (Norway) and Anders Hall (Sweden). Combined, they skillfully weave the components of their three musical cultures and traditions together in a hugely atmospheric and dynamic fashion, laced with liberal helpings of humour. 2019 will see the band celebrating their 10th anniversary. Lovers of quality fiddle music should not miss this!
- VARIATIONS – Tuesday 5th March, 8pm:
Thirteen-year-old Alice wishes her life was completely different. She wakes up one morning to find that her life is different. In fact, it’s so different that all she wants to do is get back to normality. But how does she do that? A play about family, string theory and breakfast. Each year the National Theatre commissions ten new plays for young people to perform as part
of NT Connections, bringing together some of the UK’s most exciting writers with the theatremakers of tomorrow. Caithness Young Company is led by David Hunter Thompson and formed of young performers from across
- ASSUNTA SPINA – Sunday 10th March, 730pm:
A rare silent Italian drama with a new live score by six-piece band The Badwills, followed by wild southern Italian folk dancing! Assunta Spina (1915) stars Francesca Bertini, one of Italian cinema’s greatest ‘silent diva’ actresses smouldering on-screen as she’s torn between the men who can’t control her passions. Complementing the film’s striking Neapolitan backdrop this new score is co-commissioned by Glasgow Film Festival and A Kind of Seeing. After the film, try out the traditional Southern Italian dances of pizzica and tammurriata with The Badwills’ furious live music.
SPRING PROGRAMME: APRIL
- FILM: NAE PASARAN – Wednesday 10th April, 8pm;
In a small Scottish town in 1974, factory workers refuse to carry out repairs on warplane engines in an act of solidarity against the violent military coup in Chile. Four years pass before the engines, left to rust in a factory yard, mysteriously disappear in the middle of the night.
- CUCINEMA – Thursday 11th April, Drop in between 2-8pm at Reiss Village Hall, presented by Cucinema as part of Puppet Animation Festival 2019:
A fun way to learn about the basics of animation in a family-orientated
workshop for everyone. After a short practical introduction about how to draw and paint on film, with examples of what sorts of sequences of images are most effective, you will create your own section of animated film with easy to use materials. Participants will also use simple, effective foley techniques to record an accompanying soundtrack and music for the finished film. Everyone then eats together and watches the film they have all contributed to the making of. No previous knowledge or experience is necessary, just enthusiasm and a sense of fun!
- ACHILLES – Monday 15th April, Dinner from 6:30, Performance at 8pm:
Glasgow’s acclaimed Company of Wolves re-imagines the myth of Achilles in a heart-stopping solo performance by Ewan Downie. Achilles tells the story of the greatest hero of the Greeks during the Trojan War: how his best
friend is killed by the champion of the Trojans, his desperate grief,and his terrible vengeance. In a fusion of storytelling, dance and song, Achilles is the story of a man’s exorcism: a burning out of his vulnerability, his rage, and his humanity. For an extra £10, The Whaligoe Steps Cafe will be serving a Greek dinner before the show.
SPRING PROGRAMME: MAY
- BREABACH – Friday 3rd May, 8pm:
An extra special evening of music from this multi award-winning Scottish contemporary folk band – a rare chance to catch a band of this stature in the
far north! Breabach continue to build their reputation of being at the forefront of the UK’s world and roots music scene with performances across
the world throughout 2018.
- TIME TRIAL – Sunday 19th May, 4pm:
Time Trial gives us an exhilarating and terrifying place in the race, providing an immersive experience as close to actually competing as you will ever see on film. David Millar, shrouded in darkness, declares an intention to ride again. A sensory ride through the thrill and hardship of professional cycling. We are hurtled off a hillside, details blurring like
watercolours. The euphoria and the fatigue, the highs and the lows. It’s as if it were ourselves struggling through the bumpy roads of France. David bluntly and fearlessly narrates his last season in the saddle, intimate and
immediate, along with the intricate relationships of cyclist, road crew, fellow competitors, manic fans, and the media circus surrounding it all. Head down to LAC from 1pm onwards to watch Stage 9 of the Giro D’italia, live from San Marino before the film.
- THEATRE – 549: SCOTS OF THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR – Wednesday 29th & Thursday 30th May:
The true story of four miners who travelled from the streets of Prestonpans to the valleys of Spain. They gave up everything that was familiar: for a people they had never met; and for a cause they believed was right. 549 is a timely insight into one of Scotland’s almost forgotten conflicts.
SPRING PROGRAMME: JUNE
- BUDAPEST CAFE ORCHESTRA – Monday 10th June (Lyth) 8pm, and Tuesday 11th June, 8pm at the Pulteneytown Peoples Project in Wick:
In their 10th glorious anniversary year The Budapest Café Orchestra embark on their 9th consecutive annual tour of wondrous Scotlandia and since 2011 have already chalked up some 150 concerts across St Andrew’s fair Isle! For an extra £10, The Whaligoe Steps Cafe will be serving a Hungarian dinner before the show (Monday 10th only).
- SCOTTISH CHAMBER ORCHESTRA – Saturday 15th June, 730pm at the West Church in Thurso:
Enjoy an evening of delightful chamber music-making by musicians from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
- THE SEER – Saturday 29th June, 8pm:
Commissioned in 2017 by Highland arts organisation Fèis Rois and premiered at Celtic Connections, The Seer is a 45 min suite of new music based on the life and prophecies of 17th Century prophet, The Brahan Seer.
Growing up on the Black Isle, acclaimed fiddler and composer Lauren MacColl has long been immersed in the tales of this ‘Highland Nostradamus’, stories deeply embedded in the aural culture of the north.
The album was shortlisted for both Album of the Year and Composer of the Year at the Scots Trad Music Awards.
A couple of other things worth highlighting are:
- FREELANCE FRIDAYS AT LYTH: There are loads of creatives and small businesses in Caithness, so why not change up your surroundings once a month and gather with other freelancers to work and share ideas. LAC provide desk space, hot drinks and wifi, and even open the on-site bar at 5pm! Check the programme for the Friday dates on offer.
- OTHER FESTIVALS AND EVENTS: LAC are hosting two events during the The John O’Groats Book Festival in April- a Selkie Tales workshop with children’s illustrator Kate Leiper, and a panel discussion which includes my friend Gail who blogs over at Wellies on the School Run!
I hope that whether you are a local or a tourist, my guide to the programme at Lyth inspires you to experience the arts this Spring!
Thanks to co-directors Tom Barnes and Charlotte Mountford for giving me a sneak preview of the Lyth Arts Centre spring programme!