Aberdeen Performing Arts (APA) has secured the funding to produce their third large scale Scottish drama at His Majesty’s Theatre.
A Creative Scotland grant will make it possible for the city-based arts company to stage The Cone Gatherers at the city centre theatre from September 14 to 22, before touring it to Glasgow, Inverness, Dundee, Edinburgh and Perth.
It is the third in-house production in APA’s trilogy of Scottish classics – following the critically-acclaimed Sunset Song (2008) and The Silver Darlings (2009) – but the man whose vision it was to produce major works at HMT will not be there to see the show develop.
For APA chief executive Duncan Hendry, who produced both the earlier plays, leaves the company next month to take over the top post at Edinburgh Festivals Theatre.
“I’m delighted that we have managed to secure the funding to produce this important work - which is a brand new adaptation of the classic Robin Jenkins’ novel,” said Duncan. “I’m also encouraged by the fact that theatres across the Scotland have agreed to present the work this autumn.”
The new production will be directed by actor and producer Kenny Ireland, with a specially-commissioned adaptation of Robin Jenkins’ classic novel by renowned playwright Peter Arnott.
Starring in the lead role of tortured gamekeeper Duror will be leading Scots actor Tom McGovern – an HMT favourite starred in both Sunset Song and The Silver Darlings in the recent panto Jack and the Beanstalk.
“The Cone Gatherers is a much more condensed piece of writing (than Sunset Song or The Silver Darlings) which deals mainly with the state of mind of the principal character, Duror,” said Kenny Ireland.
“It deals with large themes like obsession and prejudice and it asks strong questions about the inherent fascism of both the British upper classes and their order-obsessed servants.
“Having said this, it is still a journey into the dark bits of one man’s mind and this gives us the opportunity to develop the techniques of chorus and storytelling even further.
“We intend to create a theatrical event that is exciting in its performance, contemporary in its design, Scottish in its content and international in its message.”
The Cone Gatherers is a haunting tale of how a good man becomes evil, demonstrating the destructive power of envy and prejudice. It tells the tale of two brothers gathering cones in a forest on a Scottish estate, to reseed forests being cut down to supply the war effort. However, their innocence and happiness is threatened by the gamekeeper Duror and the deep prejudices of the class system of the time. As his perfect life begins to fall apart, Duror’s obsessions grow stronger, building to a devastating climax.
The new adaptation was workshopped by Kenny Ireland and Peter Arnott with a group of professional actors on the HMT stage and Aberdeen Art Gallery in Culture Crush last summer, as part of London 2012 Open Weekend.