Broch youngsters set to tread the boards

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A group of Fraserburgh youngsters are set to play a part in Scottish Opera’s production of Verdi’s Macbeth this autumn.

Pupils from South Park School will participate in workshops and six will be selected for roles in the opera.

Scottish Opera staff will lead the children in exercises and role-play based around the production before choosing the half dozen who will take part.

The company’s director of education, Jane Davidson, said: “Although it’s great to be able to invite six children to actually play parts in the performance, our main aim is really that each and every one of the pupils at Fraserburgh South Park School who take part in the workshops will get something out of it.”

“It’s important to give pupils the chance to gain new insight into things that not everyone comes across at a young age, like opera.”

A performance of Macbeth will take place at Haddo House on Saturday, October 4, at 7.30pm.

Dominic Hill’s 2005 production stays true to the Shakespearean tale of betrayal, murder and power.

It is inspired by the war-ravaged Balkans of the late 20th Century and was performed to sell-out shows at Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre and at Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre earlier this year.

Hill and designer Tom Piper have created a dystopia of camouflage-clad leaders and chain-smoking witches to tell the story of civil war and a lust for power.

Hill said: “We wanted to find a contemporary world that could carry the action of Macbeth with civil war and a struggle for power, but which still has a strong religious undercurrent to it. To convey that idea, we’ve taken inspiration from the Balkans conflict of the late 1990s, and of course audiences will recognise the same tragic themes from modern religious conflicts that we still see on the news today.

“But it’s important to say that this isn’t a hi-tech, high-testosterone take on Macbeth – it’s true that the production is influenced by images of the Balkans conflict, but it also takes inspiration from Russian religious icons and painting.

“The libretto is largely lifted from Shakespeare’s writing, but we’ve tried to ensure that the action on stage will be something that today’s audiences can engage with.”

Leading the cast is David Stephenson, who returns to the role after being praised as “convincing and compelling” in the Spring performances. This piano-accompanied production also features former Scottish Opera Emerging Artists Shuna Scott Sendall and Marie Claire Breen. One of this year’s Emerging Artists, Laura Margaret Smith sings the part of one of the three witches.