Cruel @ The Barn

Cruel and Unusual – a work exploring cutting-edge research using experimental music, film and spoken word in various languages – will have its second performance next month following the success at last year’s University of Aberdeen May Festival.  It will be held at Woodend Barn, Banchory on the 24th April.  Further details and ticket booking can be found here:

Lisa Collinson, Adam Cresser and I began rehearsals earlier this week.  The session went well, despite the catwalk (pictured below) collapsing on my foot…


Cruel and Unusual asks “what did the bull mean to the ancient inhabitants of the British Isles and Scandinavia?”  The question reveals a strange, and often dark symbolism.

Also performing at The Barn that night is Claire M Singer with a new work for string quartet, guitar and piano, and Bill Thompson who will be performing his latest release, Solace.

This event is the second in the Witching Hour series.  Further details here.


Cruel and Unusual (Performance)

Last Saturday’s performance went much better than any of the Cruel and Unusual members could have hoped.  The event was sold out and, unfortunately, some people were turned away at the door.

After a long day of rehearsals, I think we managed to give the best performance we possibly could – nerves and adrenalin probably helped!  I even managed to recite texts in Latin without fluffing my lines…

Si habeatur corrupta!

Documenting the event was photographer Carla Coulthard.  Below are a selection of images from the performance and post-show discussion (click to enlarge).  Make sure to check out her website for more of her fantastic work:

Many thanks to all who made it along.  We plan on performing Cruel and Unusual again in the near future.  Watch this space…

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Cruel and Unusual (Movements)

Final preparations…  One (or rather four) of the key elements arrived yesterday in the shape of masks.  These were created by Jane Stewart Wright and Barry Wright.  See below for an idea of the process of their creation:


masks 1masks 2masks 3





masks 4

I particularly like the repeated use of the astrological symbol for Taurus.

This afternoon we spent a very inspiring couple of hours with a dance tutor at Citymoves in Aberdeen…where I realised how unfit I am.  It was a fantastic learning experience and I think the performance will be all the stronger for it.


Cruel and Unusual

11th May 2013, 8pm
The Divinity Library
University of Aberdeen

£6/£4 (Over 16s Only)



Cruel and Unusual (Masks)

Rehearsals continued today.  Sounds and images are almost complete , as is the overall structure of the performance.  The lesson throughout all this (at least for me) has been that less is more.  We have a lot to pack into a short period of time, but I feel that we’ve managed to achieve this without being too literal.  Instead, we’ve often taken abstract and surreal approaches; communicating meaning through subtle physical gestures or conveying important elements without words, and instead using music and projected film to invite personal interpretations from the audience.

This is certainly one of the strangest projects that I’ve ever been involved in, but also one of the most enjoyable.  Between us, we’ve created a dark, mysterious and challenging work. Book your tickets here.

In the meantime, see below for some images of today’s rehearsal.  Click to enlarge:


dress lips


mask 1


mask 2


mask 3

Cruel and Unusual (Transformations)

Rehearsals continued today at our performance venue.  The Divinity Library at Aberdeen University is a bit of hidden gem – very few people know that it exists.  The room is almost church-like in design, with a large narrow window at the furthest end, framed by two staircases leading to the upper gallery.  The walls on either side are lined with glass cabinets containing old books which fill the space with an old, musty scent.

The venue has made a huge impact on the overall shape of what we’ll be performing.  Between the staircases will be a large projection screen displaying various abstract imagery.  Four loudspeakers will be placed at the furthest corners of each level, meaning that the audience will be constantly immersed in sound.

The Cruel and Unusual Facebook page is now active.  Click here and “like” us!

…and here are two audio examples to give you a taster:

red hands

Cruel and Unusual (Preparations)

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What did the bull mean to the ancient inhabitants of the British Isles and Scandinavia?An intermedia performance, exploring cutting-edge research using experimental music, film and spoken word in various languages.  Devised by Lisa Collinson, Adam Cresser, Ross Whyte and Candy Hatherley.

£6/£4 (Over 16s Only) No wheelchair access

Saturday 11th May, 8pm-9pm, The Divinity, University of Aberdeen

Book Tickets: Aberdeen Box Office: 01224 641122

Yesterday, Lisa, Adam, Candy and I took part in a movement workshop at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh in preparation for the Cruel and Unusual performance at Aberdeen University next month.  A major part of the workshop involved the use of masks and learning how to use/engage with them.  Needless to say, things got a bit dark.  Having a mirror held in front of your masked face and being asked to make your face adapt to the weird, exaggerated expression you’re presenting (usually resulting in an unnerving rictus grin) was both amazing and terrifying.  All in all, an entertaining, insightful and very educational experience.

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