A K Bell Library,
Perth PH2 8EP
t: +44 (0)1738 477062
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27 Wilson Street,
Perth PH2 0EX
t: +44 (0)1738 643687
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I thocht the hale o the world was there
Sae sma in a sma room.
Ballad, William Soutar
Celebrating the bittersweet life of Perth poet William Soutar, In a Sma Room blends jazz and folk-inspired music and drama in a show unlike anything youï¿½ve seen before. Vocalist Debra Salem, pianist Paul Harrison and guitarist Kevin MacKenzie have composed new musical settings to some of Soutarï¿½s most haunting lyrics, and perform them here with Perth violinist Patsy Reid.
The life and work of Perth poet William Soutar has, a year before the 70th anniversary of his death, been presented in a completely new and highly entertaining perspective, thanks to the coming together of many talented people - not forgetting the many-faceted poems of Soutar himself.
In a Sma Room celebrates Soutar's bittersweet life in drama - scripted by Perth-based author/playwright Ajay Close - and music, involving talented musicians Perth singer-songwriter Debra Salem, Perthshire fiddler/cellist Patsy Reid, in-demand guitarist Kevin Mackenzie and pianist/composer Paul Harrison.
Add into this melting pot of talent The Friends of William Soutar which commissioned In a Sma Room, and Poorboy Theatre Company, headed by director Sandy Thomson and featuring atomic-powered actress Jennifer Bates.
In a Sma Room (taken from a line in Soutar's ghostly poem Ballad) was premiered to a good-sized audience in Soutar's home town before touring to four other East Coast venues.
Through an innovative concept, we met some of the people who shared the ups and downs of Soutar's life: from his birth in 1898, then through his childhood, career as a seaman, his confinement to his bed for 13 painful years suffering from ankylosing spondyltis, and to his death in 1943.
Bates took the role of a medium who, with some audience participation, drew in the spirits of four people close to Soutar during his life, including his mother and the poet's lost love Molly.
In between these well-scripted and acted scenarios were performances of 13 Soutar poems set to music with well-crafted arrangements.
The composing honours were shared between Debra, Paul and Kevin.
The strongest influence was jazz, of the mellow, easy-on-the-ear kind, with ample helpings of folk, blues and even some Eastern European drama to ensure variety and the joy of discovery in each song.
The musical arrangements and Debra's phrasing, timing and clarity of lyrics fitted Soutar's poetry like a calfskin glove throughout the 90-minute performance.
In a Sma Room is certainly a production which merits being enjoyed outwith Soutar's home city. The upcoming tour goes to The Byre, St Andrews on May 31; Arbroath (June 1); The Steeple in Newburgh (June 14); and 42 Royal Park Terrace, Edinburgh, on June 21.
Iain Mackintosh, Chairman of FoWSS, hands over a cheque for ï¿½1,000 to Sarah Secombes, CHAS Fundraising Manager.
The money was raised from ticket receipts and a bucket collection at the In a Sma Room premiere in Perth Concert Hall.
You can read more on the CHAS website.
Membership of FoWSS is free, and you have the opportunity to organise or participate in projects designed to promote Soutar and his works. In addition, members receive an annual newsletter, notification of all FoWSS events and publications, and are invited to an annual Soutar Tea held at the Soutar House. Please use the Contact page if you would like to find out more about FoWSS.