“The Secret Theatre” film by Scottish Ballet is a charming and perfect Christmas present to arrive at the end of what has been a very difficult year for Scottish Ballet, Theatres, performing artists and pretty much every one of us.
The very concept of a young boy entering an abandoned theatre and finding the building and stage comes alive as if by magic with wonderful characters full of enchantment and wonder is not only a good place to start this story, but very symbolic about how many of us feel about live performance and theatres. Usually this time of the year is a special one for me as Scottish Ballet bring their Christmas shows to the theatres and show us all just what magic can be performed on stage with the right creatives behind the scenes and on the stage itself, and watching this film I am reminded of just how much I am missing Scottish Ballet performing live on stage this year.
For anyone out there about to watch this wonderful film, it is important to note that Scottish Ballet have not taken the easy way out and simply filmed one of their productions, but for “The Secret Theatre” brought in film professionals to work with their creatives and those of Scottish Ballet to create a product designed for film, and that is perhaps why “The Secret Theatre” works so well on your screen.
In this story, our young boy not only enters “The Secret Theatre”, but gets taken to a magical wonderland that creates a new story out of existing stage productions “The Nutcracker” and “The Snow Queen”, and CEO/Artistic Director and Choreographer Christopher Hampson, Scottish Ballet’s in-house filmmaker Eve McConnachie and Directors for Screen Jess and Morgs have created something of real artistic vision here which lets us enjoy performances from all of our favourite Scottish Ballet performing artists (including Constance Devernay, and Sophie Martin and many others) from the safety of our own homes this year.
As important as the film, there is also information on how you can make a much needed financial “Christmas Gift” to Scottish Ballet this year.
The Secret TheatreThe Young Boy:Leo Tetteh The Young Boy understudy:SamuelLetsosaLexi:Alice KawalekThe Snow Queen:ConstanceDevernayRingmaster:BrunoMicchiardiAcrobats:Rishan Benjamin & Melissa ParsonsSpanish divertissement: Javier Andreu & Rimbaud PatronFrenchdivertissement:Grace PaulleyClowns:Jamiel Laurence, Constant Vigier & Jamie ReidStrongman:Nicholas ShoesmithBallerina:Kayla-MareeTarantoloEnglish divertissement:Thomas EdwardsMazelda:Grace HorlerZac:Christopher HarrisonSugar Plum Fairy:Sophie MartinNutcrackerPrince:Jerome AnthonyBarnes
Ahead of the film, watch this exclusive 10 minute documentary by Scottish Ballet’s in-house filmmaker Eve McConnachie. It includes interviews with CEO / Artistic Director and Choreographer Christopher Hampson, Directors for Screen Jess and Morgs, and the cast of dancers about the making of The Secret Theatre.
Review (c) Tom King 2020
Lyceum Edinburgh Christmas Tales Live - Review Friday 18th December 2020
The custom of telling ghost stories and tales of the supernatural is an old one, and one which we have sadly forgotten all too often in these modern times, and it is nice to see that The Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh is reviving this tradition.
This year of course, that enchantment and wonder of going into a wonderful period built theatre like The Lyceum is not possible, and the four stories here were presented as live digital streams. Nothing, particularly ghost stories, is better suited for the atmosphere of a live theatre, and although every one of these solo performances was at a very high standard, I hope that maybe one day it will be possible to experience them performed on a live stage from the comfort of my theatre seat.
What about our four stories then?
The Christmas Ghost - Written by Louise Ironside, Performed by Ryan Hunter
A Christmas ghost story with a twist that, although I have come across many variants of this central theme, was handled with subtlety and moved the story along without any drop of pace in the proceedings. I am not telling you the twist, find that one out for yourself when you book your on-line ticket.
Christmas with Angela Davis - Written by Jackie Kay, Performed by Helen Katamba
A charming tale in parts of how a child perceives Christmas day, and perhaps a little reminder of that wonder of anticipation that we all too often lose as adults. This story has a twist though too, and this child’s Christmas is wrapped up with her adoration of American political activist, Angela Davis. A little bit too political for me for my Christmas stories and at times straying a little too far into the realm of “The Snowman”. Having said that though, the story of Angela Davis is one that is crying out to be expanded into a full theatrical work at The Lyceum.
The Returning of the Light - Written by Lynda Radley, Performed by Kirsty Findlay
The old pagan myths fascinate me, and as the time of Christmas is built upon old pagan dates, this was not only an interesting take on a very old tale, but a reminder of the origins of this time of year.
A Cold Snap - Written by Shona Reppe, Performed by Irene Allan
Out of all four works, this was the one for me and “Christmas Carol” is such an engaging character that leaving this at just one story seems too little. A truly original piece of writing that was full of surprises and humour.
I hope you all enjoy your Lyceum Christmas Tales Live, but there is a touch of sadness here as I have been reminded just how much I enjoy live theatre, and just how much we all need live theatre as an art form.
Review by Tom King (c) 2020