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Arts / Mary Queen of Scots provides inspiration for new play

Meanwhile a multi-media performance exploring the Piper Alpha disaster and the climate is also scheduled at Mareel

A NEW one-woman play about Mary Queen of Scots featuring Shetland comedian and storyteller Marjolein Robertson will be held in Mareel next month.

The show will see Shetlander and citizen historian Mary Fraser take the audience on a “whistlestop tour of Queen Mary’s life and explains how it mirrors her own”.

The production is a collaboration of Shetland born director and actor Jordanna O’Neill, Robertson and award-winning writer Raymond Friel.

It has been made possible by Shetland Arts funding.

Friel attended the Anderson High School and has often found Shetland an inspiration for his work.

Meanwhile O’Neill said: “This has been an absolute joy.

“Mary Queen of Scots is one of the most famous figures in Scottish history, but I’ve never heard her story told from the prospective of a young Shetlander in 2023.

“Raymond’s writing made me laugh, learn without realising, and made me ponder some of the bigger questions of life, death and how we relate to one another.

“Collaborating with Marjolein has brought an authentic Shetland voice to the role and it has been wonderful to have the chance to work professionally after starting out together in Shetland Youth Theatre.

“It has been very special for us to make and premier this show in our home with the support of Shetland Arts.”

This event will be held at Mareel on Saturday and Sunday 8/9 April at 7.30pm. It is said to be for ages 13 plus.

Tickets are available now priced at £10/£8.


Meanwhile a multimedia theatre production exploring the parallels between the current climate emergency and the Piper Alpha North Sea disaster is also heading to Mareel.

Pibroch, which is touring the country, uses poetry created by Aberdeenshire-based writer and artist John Bolland, and mixes it with live music and visual imagery.

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The performance represents the personal and social experiences of Piper Alpha survivors and their relationship to the “challenges each of us face in a warming world – our very own burning platform – with a pressing need for change”.

Bolland’s words are complemented by multi-instrumentalist and composer Fraser Fifield who provides live music accompaniment to the performance.

Pibroch is co-directed by Mark Thomson, former artistic director at the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh, alongside a strong team of Scottish theatre creatives.

Bolland said: “It will be the 35th anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster this July and although half a lifetime has passed we seem not to have understood the underlying lessons.

“Researching both the disaster and the climate, I was struck by the statement of Red Adair, who was a responder to the emergency, that the only way to extinguish a fire of this nature is to deny it fuel.

“I hope those who come along to the performances will come away with a sense of disquiet and a modicum of hope. Disquieted by the fact that they are, in more than a metaphorical sense, on a burning platform.

“Hopeful because, collectively as well as individually, we can figure out what we are going to do about it – for ourselves, for our children and grandchildren, for most of life on earth. Live or die. Obey or resist.”

Pibroch will take to the stage at Mareel on 20 April, with tickets priced at £15.

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