Burdies Call Out

Dec 25 2016 | By More

Burdies wanted for Netherbow play

The Scottish Storytelling Centre is looking for a cast of ten or more to help create a play in a day as it looks to rejuvenate the midwinter tradition of folk drama.

The play is The Burdies, based on a variety of different midwinter customs, and featuring the likes of Frozie-Toesie and Johnnie Rednosie. Creation will take place on Friday 30 December from 10.30am. The performance will take place at 2.30pm.

Previous Play in a Day performance. Photo: Scottish Storytelling Centre.

The script is written by Donald Smith and collected from customs across the Celtic World, with elements coming from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany and England.

The performance follows the success of a Mummers workshop at the Scottish International Storytelling Festival in October and a Play in a Day for St. Andrew’s Day which brought The Galoshins to life.

The Burdies combines the midwinter custom of ‘Hunting the Wren’ – associated with pagan rituals to signify bringing life back again with the sun – alongside traditional Scottish songs, tunes and stories about the Marriage of Robin Redbreast and Jenny Wren.

The wren, the wren, the Queen of aa burds,
St Stephen’s Day wis caught in the furze;
Although she’s but little, her honour is great,
Jump up, me lads, and gie her a treat.

Donald Smith says: “This is a folk play reborn as we’ve uncovered older stuff for the first time in Scotland. All the songs and poems are authentic old sources from Celtic mythology, but combining them in this way is an innovation, alongside the fun of developing the bird characters as an overall chorus, which allowed inclusion of traditional bird lore, such as the corbies (ravens).”

The Scottish Storytelling Centre says that a cast of ten, minimum, is needed to bring this new creation from the past to life in “what promises to be an engaging and fun day showcasing folk drama”. The day will begin with an introduction to the story, as well as to the mumming and folk drama traditions of Scotland.


Folk Drama: Play in a Day – The Burdies
Scottish Storytelling Centre, 43-45 High Street, EH1 1SR

Friday 30 December. 10.30am – 2.30pm when the performance will take place. The cost is £5.

Details and tickets: www.tracscotland.org.


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