Ferry Tales coming to three major Scots ferry routes

There’s bound to be drama on the seas of Scotland, onboard a number of Scottish ferries.

Ferry Tales, presented by the National Theatre of Scotland, with the support of Caledonian MacBrayne and their ferries, celebrates the waters surrounding Scotland’s western isles and the voyages over them made by thousands of locals, workers and visitors each year.

With the help of local communities and world class artists, Ferry Tales will bring an enchanting musical tale, told using English, Gaelic, and BSL (British Sign Language), to three of Scotland’s major ferry routes: Wemyss Bay to Rothesay, Oban to Craignure, and Ullapool to Stornoway.

Written by Isobel McArthur and directed by Lu Kemp, and featuring songs by Scottish folk singer Josie Duncan, Ferry Tales will draw inspiration from real community stories and experiences to create the short, immersive tales, told through storytelling and song by a three-strong ensemble of talented performers.

Isobel McArthur is an acclaimed performer and playwright, whose recent work has included the stage hit Pride & Prejudice (Sort Of), currently touring the UK, and Daphne Oram’s Wonderful World of Sound. Lu Kemp is currently the Artistic Director at Perth Theatre, where recent directing credits include Aladdin, Knives in Hens, Richard III, and Kes. Josie Duncan is a young folk singer originally from the Isle of Lewis, known for her songs in Gaelic, Scots, and English, and who in 2017 was awarded BBC Radio 2’s Young Folk Award.

The cast for Ferry Tales is MJ Deans, John Pfumojena, and David Rankine. MJ Deans is a Glasgow-based actor and Gaelic speaker, who has previously starred in National Theatre of Scotland productions Rocket Post and Uisge Beatha gu Leòr/Whisky Galore. John Pfumojena is an actor and singer whose recent work has included appearing in the titular role in the National Theatre’s 2017 adaptation of Peter Pan, as well as critically-acclaimed Young Vic production The Jungle, which transferred to London’s West End in 2018. He has previously worked with the National Theatre of Scotland on the 2016 tour of I Am Thomas, a co-production with Told By An Idiot. David Rankine is an Aberdeen-born actor whose recent work has included Aladdin (Eden Court/ Imagine Theatre), HOWL[ing] (The Arches/ Traverse Theatre); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Bard in the Botanics). Ferry Tales marks his debut with National Theatre of Scotland.

Upon the ferries audiences will find a world all its own, a ‘journey time’ where all bets are off and anything can happen. A world within worlds where, in amongst the red plastic chairs and bolted-down tables, they can discover pop-up performances and chance encounters with magical characters, each designed to delight old and young alike.

At the end of the voyage they will be welcomed and immersed in inspiring local tales, where the ordinary becomes fantastical and the truth is funnier than fiction. Fusing magical music, words and song, the beautiful, bespoke stories featured in Ferry Tales will find meaning in the mundane and romance in everyday life, reflecting the warm heart of Scotland’s coastal communities.

Ferry Tales will open on the Wemyss Bay to Rothesay route from 7 to 11 April, with three performances on different sailings per day. The following week it will arrive on the Oban to Craignure ferries from 14 – 18 April, with performances twice a day (three performances on 15 and 17 April). Finally, Ferry Tales will arrive on the Stornoway to Ullapool return route from 21 – 25 April, with one performance per day alternating between sailings leaving from Ullapool and Stornoway.

All performances are completely free for Calmac passengers with a valid ticket for that sailing, and full times for each sailing and performance can be found on the National Theatre of Scotland website.

Local residents in all three areas will also have the chance to be a part of the production’s community cast, with community engagement sessions and rehearsals taking place in Rothesay, Tobermory, and Stornoway, allowing people the opportunity to come along, share their stories, and get involved. These evening community sessions will run for seven weeks in each location, and will be led by both a musician and drama practitioner: In Rothesay, Ross Brown and Leonie Gasson; in Mull, Caitlin Mulgrew and Andi Stevens, and in Stornoway Ross Brown and Laura Cameron Lewis.

Ferry Tales sees the National Theatre of Scotland staging its first site-specific project of 2020. In recent years the Company has specialised in staging work in unique and unusual locations; Previous years have included plays performed in a Glasgow office block (Interference), a converted lorry on the streets of Paisley (Do’s and Don’ts), on an Aberdeen beach (Rewind Perspective), and within a specially constructed maze in a Glasgow meadow (The Reason I Jump).

Ferry Tales forms part of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020, a year-long programme of events, activities and ideas all shining a spotlight on the impact our waters have had on Scotland, from the formation of beautiful natural features to the creation of our national drink – whisky.

Listings information:

Wemyss Bay to Rothesay
Dates: 7 to 11 April
Times: Sailings at 10.05am (arr. 10.40am), noon (arr. 12.35pm), 3.05 (arr. 3.40pm)- Tuesday to Friday
And sailings 10am (arr. 10.35am), 11.30am (arr. 12.05pm), and 15.00 (arr. 3.35pm) on Saturday

Oban to Craignure
Dates: 14 to 18 April
Times: 09.50 (arr. 10.40am), and 3.55pm (4.45pm) – Tuesday to Friday
Sailings 12.20 (arr. 1.10pm)- Wednesday and Friday only
And sailings 09.05am (arr. 10.40am), and 3.55pm (arr. 4.45pm)- Saturday

Ullapool to Stornoway
Dates: 21 to 25 April
Times: 10.30 (arr. 1pm)- Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday
And Stornoway to Ullapool: 2pm (arr. 4.30pm)- Wednesday and Friday

Full information on sailings can be found here

To book on these crossings visit calmac.co.uk

Community rehearsals information

Dates: Mon 17 Feb to Mon 30 Mar, 9-7pm
Venue: Bank of Ideas, 17 High Street, Rothesay, Isle of Bute
Rothesay community rehearsals led by musician Ross Brown and drama practitioner Leonie Gasson

Dates: Mon 24 Feb to Mon 6 Apr, 9-7pm
Venue: Mull Theatre, Druimfin, Tobermory, Isle Of Mull PA75 6QB.
Tobermory community rehearsals led by musician Caitlin Mulgrew and local drama practitioner Andi Stevens

Dates: Thu 05 Mar to Thu 16 Apr, 9-7pm
Venue: Martin’s Memorial Hall, 11 Francis Street, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis HS1 2
Stornoway community rehearsals led by musician Ross Brown and local drama practitioner Laura Cameron Lewis

For more information on community rehearsals and how to join, visit nationaltheatrescotland.com/production/ferry-tales or email ferrytales@nationaltheatrescotland.com