Tales of inspiration and hope at Perth Festival


Tales of inspiration and hope at Perth Festival

With Perth Theatre back in play again, Perth Festival of the Arts has increased its dramatic offerings to Festival audiences this year in the form of three award-winning theatre pieces brought from Wales, Teeside and the USA.

With two of the plays telling true stories of the lives of remarkable individuals living in the last century, the 10-day Festival hopes to inspire, inform and entertain audiences with carefully-selected productions that wouldn’t otherwise be performed in Perth.

The trio opens with A Regular Little Houdini for a one-off matinee performance on Saturday 18th May at 3pm. The Flying Bridge Theatre production is a beautiful one-man play set in South Wales at the turn of the last century and is a coming of age story. Written and performed Daniel Llewelyn-Williams, the play follows a lowly dockworker’s son who idolises his hero Harry Houdini and commits himself to a life of magic. But as the harsh reality of working class life in Edwardian Britain gets in the way, audiences watch a young man trying to follow his dreams while poverty weighs him down like mud.

The production has taken home no less than five awards, including ‘Best Actor’ in Wales Theatre Awards. The 1-hour play will be followed by a post-show Q&A with the actor/ writer.

The Festival’s second theatre pieces come together on the evening of Thursday 23rd May in Perth Theatre, offering a special double-bill. Hailing all the way from Los Angeles, is the internationally-acclaimed Eleanor’s Story: An American Girl in Hitler’s Germany. The short play, written and performed by Ingrid Garner, is a theatrical adaptation of her grandmother Eleanor Ramrath Garner’s award-winning memoirs, detailing her youth as an American caught in WWII Berlin. During the great depression, when she is nine, Eleanor’s family moves from her beloved America to Germany, where a new job awaits her father. But war breaks out as her family is crossing the Atlantic and return to the United States becomes impossible. Eleanor struggles to maintain stability, hope and identity in a world of terror and contrasts. 

This true story, with its themes of social and political turmoil, is strikingly relevant almost 80 years later. Ingrid Garner enacts the universal yet seldom reported experience of civilians in wartime. In a thoroughly physical production, accompanied by sound, images and video, the audience will be immersed in her grandmother’s harrowing journey of survival.

The production has achieved great acclaim in Fringe Festival circuits around the globe, including Hollywood, Australia and in 2017, Edinburgh Fringe, where Perth Festival of the Arts first spotted and reviewed the outstanding production.  In an interview with Hollywood Fringe, actor Ingrid explained “I hope my audiences feel inspired to inquire with their own parents and grandparents about their experience of war. Many people fall silent after a war… It took my grandmother 60 years to share her story. This is a story about how citizens, especially innocent children, are affected by war.”

The trio of plays culminates on 23rd May within a piece of unique modern folk theatre with 5-star reviews. Presented by three-time BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winners, The Young’s, The Ballad of Johnny Longstaff is the true story of one man’s adventure from begging on the streets in the north of England to fighting against fascism in the Spanish Civil War, taking in the Hunger Marches and the Battle of Cable Street. It’s a timely, touching and often hilarious musical adventure following the footsteps of one working class hero who witnessed some of the momentous events of the 1930s.

The production has a touching back-story. At the end of a gig in 2015, folk singers The Young’uns were approached by Johnny Longstaff’s son who was in the audience and asked to tell the story of his father’s remarkable life. With their trademark harmony, honesty and humour the Teeside trio then brought together 16 specially composed songs, spoken word, striking imagery and the real recorded voice of Johnny himself to tell a remarkable human story oozing with modern relevance.

Tickets for the plays and all Festival shows are on-sale via the Horsecross box office 01738 621031 or online www.perthfestival.co.uk. The Festival runs from 16-25th May 2019 in venues across the city and has 35 events running this year.

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