Posts Tagged United States

This Land

EDINBURGH FRINGE 2012

This Land
The Story of Woody Guthrie

Interplay

Zoo Southside

Woody Guthrie, the legendary American folk singer, was one of the principal musical figures of the early to middle part of the last century. His folk songs caught the mood of his generation with his tales of the great depression, the Oklahoma dustbowls, the war on Hitler’s Germany and the plight of workers and the downtrodden sectors of American society. He went on to influence Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger Phil Ochs and Bruce Springstein. Billy Bragg has recorded a British version of This Land, his best known song.

Punctuated with rumbustious renditions of some of Guthrie’s best known songs, This Land journeys through the highs and lows of his life; from his early days in the dustbowls of Oklahoma to his hospital bed where, by the time he met the young Bob Dylan, he was laid up with the final stages of Huntingdon’s Chorea.

Based on Guthrie’s own memoirs, the story is told by seven different Woodies, each one representing a different phase of his life. This inspirational play demonstrates the man’s dedication in the face of personal tragedy and debilitating life-limiting illness. It’s a perfect play from a perfect cast.

***** Five Stars

David Kerr

http://www.interplayleeds.co.uk/thisland/

Some of the Woodies serenade the audience leaving the theatre; So long, it’s been good to know you…

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The Crucible

THE CRUCIBLE
American High School Theatre Festival

Pilrig Studio Venue 103, 1bPIlrig Street

ARTHUR MILLER’S play The Crucible, set in the time of the infamous Salem Witch Trials of 1692 was intended as an indictment of Senator Joe McCarthy’s blacklisting of persons accused of communist sympathies in 1950sAmerica.

This modern dress production is presented by a talented bunch of High School students from Pius XI High School inWisconsin. Despite their youth, they have total mastery of the script.

Young Alex Sobczak’s manipulative accuser Abigail Williams was so convincing that the audience were scanning the ceiling for the imps and devils she claimed to see. Roc Bauman was every inch the stout God-fearing farmer who knew that the accusations of witchcraft against his wife Elizabeth and scores of others were nonsense; Connor could not make himself heard against the clamour for blood. Instead he came under suspicion too, especially as he could not remember all of the Ten Commandments. According to Reverend Hale, his examiner, ‘Theology is a fortress. No crack in the fortress can be allowed.’

The Crucible still speaks powerfully today as there will always be people who act or look different from the norm for one reason or another.  Such folk can become objects of suspicion, fear and hatred and can be vulnerable to victimisation by unscrupulous manipulators with a score to settle or in pursuit of power and influence.

Reviewed by David Kerr

***** Five stars

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Scottish Folk Roots and Offshoots

Scottish Roots and Offshoots

The Royal Oak Bar

Infirmary Street

 

SCOTLAND’S music has travelled all over the world; toAustralia,New Zealand,Canada, but most of all toAmerica.  Scots settled abroad for many reasons; poverty and religious or political persecution at home, or just in search of a new life.  Wherever they settled, they brought their music with them. That’s why one of the songs sung for generations in theAppalachian mountainsmentions the River Clyde.  It’s a folk memory.  Once there, the music met with other strains, mutated a bit and came back here.

This trend is epitomised by the Singer/Songwriter David Ferrard.  AnEdinburghlad himself, his mum is American, and he spent most of his summers as a young man over there, picking ups songs as he went along.

This comes out strongly in his routine which draws together songs from Robert Burns excoriating the politicians of his day as a Parcel of Rogues, romantic Jabobite songs dedicated to the Young Chevalier, Black American freedom songs from the slave era and some of his own composition.  Love songs, sad songs, rude songs and silly songs.  They’re all here.

Ferrard engages with his audience in an understated way that draws them out into singing choruses and participating in ‘hand-dancing’. More than half the audience had seen previous performances and come back for more. What better recommendation can a man have?

 

www.davidferrard.com

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