In My Father's Words

Thu 28 May - Sun 28 June

THU 04 JUNE - SUN 28 JUNE 2015

Opportunity to showcase Gaelic to international audience

Dundee Rep Theatre is to take its production of In My Father’s Words, a play in English and Gaelic, to New York this summer. 

The Rep is the only Scottish company to have been invited to take part in the Brits Off Broadway festival, which will be held at 59E59 Theaters in New York in June. 

The theatre has been awarded a £58,000 grant by Creative Scotland to take the production across the pond. 

Written by Justin Young with Gaelic by Iain Finlay MacLeod, In My Father’s Words is set around Lake Ontario and explores Scottish emigrants’ experiences and the recovery of language and identity. 

It was produced by Dundee Rep Theatre as part of the Culture 2014 strand for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, and toured the Highlands and Islands after its runs in Glasgow and Dundee. 

It was seen by 59E59 Theaters during a performance in Stornoway last summer. 

In My Father’s Words tells the story of Louis, a university academic who teaches classics and his elderly father, Don, who struggles with loss of language as part of a gradual decline into dementia. 

Louis employs a carer called Flora, who is of Canadian Scottish heritage and realises that the “nonsense” Don speaks is in fact broken Gaelic.  

The team worked with Iain Finlay Macleod to integrate Gaelic into the play to ensure the language was authentic to a Gaelic-speaking audience.

The Dundee Rep production was directed by Philip Howard, joint Artistic Director of the Rep. 

He said: “Taking In My Father’s Words to New York gives us an incredible opportunity to develop our international touring skills while showcasing Dundee Rep on an international stage. Performing at a festival which celebrates the best of new works from British theatre will significantly raise our profile, as well as that of theatre in Scotland. 

“We have been extending our Scottish touring networks, and this will build on that skills base, giving our technical, and production staff a fantastic opportunity to work in New York and offering international exposure for the cast. 

“Performing in New York will allow us to extend the life of the project further, and give us an exciting opportunity to present the production and play to new audiences and promoters in North America.”

Philip said the opportunity to showcase the Gaelic element of the play was particularly attractive. 

He added: “Taking part in Brits on Broadway particularly represents an introduction to the Gaelic language through a beautiful piece of writing, which is comprehensible to non-Gaelic speakers. 

“Angus Peter Campbell, who plays the character of Don, is a very well-known and respected figure in Gaelic literature, and we also plan to engage with local Gaelic groups such as the New York Caledonian Club.” 

The show will run for four weeks until June 28, with 30 performances scheduled. 

Laura Mackenzie-Stuart, Portfolio Manager, Theatre and International, Creative Scotland, said: “High quality work made in Scotland is enjoying an unprecedented profile in the USA thanks to inclusion in Brits off Broadway and a number of other important showcases.  

“Audiences in New York are exceptionally theatre savvy and international in outlook.  Presenting In My Father’s Words will not only provide an enriching experience for Dundee Rep but will extend a welcoming hand to connect an American audience to Scotland as a dynamic creative nation.

“Alongside this is the show’s likely appeal to the large Scottish diaspora some of whom will come from Gaelic speaking families but who have little opportunity to see and hear their native language presented in this way and celebrated by contemporary playwrights.  Creative Scotland is delighted to be supporting this tour.” 

Brian Beirne, Managing Director of 59E59 Theaters said: “59E59 Theaters is honoured to work with Dundee Rep to bring this sophisticated production of family and loss to audiences in New York.” 

Founded in 2002, 59E59 Theaters presents off-Broadway productions by not-for-profit companies from across the USA and around the world. 

Owned and operated by the Elysabeth Kleinhans Theatrical Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation, 59E59 Theaters brings new, innovative and invigorating work to East Side audiences by providing a space for emerging and established companies to reach new audiences and expand the range of theater available in an Off-Broadway setting. 

Brits off Broadway annually showcases the best of new theatre from the UK with the team at 59E59 regularly travelling to the UK to hand-pick the best of British productions. 

The theatre complex also stages the annual East to Edinburgh event, a preview of new plays going to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. 

"sophisticated dementia drama... Philip Howard's strongly acted production bridges the gulf between the domestic and the mythological" ★★★★ The Guardian

"Rich and thoughtful...powerful and fascinating" ★★★★ The Scotsman

"both intimate and epic in its reach for roots and reconciliation" ★★★★ The Herald

"a clever, engrossing, and affecting exploration of memory, language and identity" 
The Sunday Herald

In an old wooden house by the shore of Lake Ontario in Canada, Louis battles with his elderly father, Don, whose decline into dementia is gradually robbing him of the ability to speak.  Louis’ professional success as a university teacher of Classics belies an emotional inarticulacy which matches his father’s inability to express himself in words.

And then into their lives comes Flora, the carer that Louis employs to look after Don.  Flora is of Scottish heritage and a good listener, and she understands that the ‘nonsense’ which Don speaks is fragmented Gaelic, opening up an ocean of revelations and buried family history spanning the Atlantic.

‘While you were gone, I tried to be the man you were.
I mended the boats as you had done.
I felled the trees as you had done.
Every week my hope grew
That you would return to me.
And we would go fishing on Loch Roag’




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