0n the woad again: you‘ve seen the Hollywood take on the Battle of Stirling Bridge in Braveheart . . . now let the citizens of Stirling show you how their forefathers really did it
Bridge over troubled slaughter
Seven centuries after William Wallace routed the sassenach hordes at Stirling Bridge, a country with a referendum under its sporran relives its hour of glory. Words: Brian of the clan Donaldson
Andy Arnold certainly knows a thing or two about putting on a show. Following the visual and aural extravaganza that was last year’s Metropolis at Glasgow’s Arches Theatre. where he is Artistic
Director. he has been handed the unenviable task of
giving the Battle of Stirling Bridge celebrations a theatrical spectacle to remember long after the referendum votes have been cast.
‘I welcome the big productions because they get me out of The Arches and into a bit of fresh air for a little while.‘ admits Arnold. ‘The set for The Burr/e ()f Stirling BITng is almost a life-size span of the bridge itself — it's about ()0 foot wide on the castle esplanade._with two banks of seats lacing on to it and there‘s a video screen and clumps of trees. It should look very dramatic.’
The ball began rolling when the Stirling 7()() committee approached Arnold. and after very little arm-twisting. he agreed to get this open—air community spectacular going. A solid year‘s planning has gone into the production. for‘ which Arnold has been joined by designer (irahani Hunter a ‘a great
‘l'm not sure what came first —I have a feeling that the referendum was chosen for that date for a reason.' Andy Arnold
stickler for detail’ - and verse writer Michael Begg.
After two months of full-time intensive work with the set building. costumes and rehearsals. the moment has now arrived for the 200 performers to strut their stuff. There will be live music from a group of drummers. two male voice choirs. bloody battle sequences and a dazzling spot of pyrotechnics. Just don’t look for big names appearing — the cast will be drawn from the local community.
“There are no professionals at all. it's all local people — 80 actual performers who are the English and Scottish armies. 30 dancers. musicians and choirs.’ staticises Arnold. “The actual event is such a focal point for now and of Stirling‘s history. To enthuse people about it hasn‘t been a problem at all.‘
And at least there won't be any monstrous egos charging around demanding top calibre narcotics in their trailers. ‘lt‘s easier in some ways.’ concedes Arnold of his unpaid workforce. ‘People are more willing to do what you ask them to do — even if it may seem completely daft. Getting a style of theatre across and being able to share your vision sometimes takes a little while but we had a model of the set and talked them through the whole thing. Rehearsal time is limited because you can only get local people together in the evenings and at weekends; but to counter- balance that. you get this incredible enthusiasm and commitment to the project. The principles are the same really. it‘s the scale that’s the main difference.’
And what luck that the dress rehearsal fell slap bang on the day that the nation voted for its political future. ‘That worked out very well.‘ admits Arnold. ‘l’m not sure what came first — l have a feeling that the referendum was chosen for that date for a reason.‘ We know the result of one of these historical landmarks. The celebratory loins will no doubt be girded further with a certain other positive outcome.
The Battle Of Stirling Bridge, Stirling Castle, Fri 12 8. Sat 13 Sep.
More strange tales from behind the footlights . . .
YES, YES WE KNOW the Festival's over, but one true story from the final week is so surreal that we have to share it with you. On the night of Tuesday 26 August. Club Zarathustra took to the stage as normal at Pleasance 2, to perform the audiencebaiting Attention Scum. Without warning, the show was halted by that most disruptive of heckles, twenty pounds of prime Scottish salmon, lobbed at the performers by a disgruntled punter (whose ingenuity in concealing the projectile about his or her person - particularly given the stifling heat - is remarkable).
IT DOESN'T END THERE. Miffed by the impromptu arrival of the piscine interloper, Club Zarathustra departed, leaving the next company to dispose of the scaly invader. The shaven-headed Russian 'anti-clown’ troupe Derevo. to whom that duty fell, wasted no time. Adopting the spurned spume-rider, they cooked it the following day and served it with home-made bread at their farewell party on Wednesday night. Fortunately, one of The List’s Eating & Drinking Guide editors was on hand, and has confirmed that the salmon was delicious.
SCOTTISH WANNABES OF WIT are advised to apply now for this year’s Daily Telegraph Open Mic Award. The nationwide contest — which culminates in regional semi-finals throughout spring and summer and a final at the Edinburgh Festival - offers a £2000 prize plus a booking on the Newcastle Brown comedy circuit. The 1996 final was won by Scotsman Frankie Boyle; but this year there was a poor showing from Scotland, with very few applications. As a result, entrants from all over England were drafted in for the Scottish semi-final in Edinburgh, which led in turn to a dispute between locally based comedy club The Stand and the organisers, Avalon. Bravehearts are encouraged to stand-up for their country. Appetite for heckles: Derevo‘s masterchef Anton Adassinsky
13 Sep ~35 Sop NO} TI‘IE HST 51