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World Premier Drama and New Poetry Explore the Limits of Love

Bunbury Banter and Dumfries Theatre Royal are gearing up for Freckle, the third groundbreaking Play, Poet & Pastry event

A Perthshire playwright and Dumfries poet are joining forces for a groundbreaking performing arts initiative at Scotland’s oldest working theatre.

Giles Conisbee, from Pitlochry, and police officer turned poet JoAnne McKay have been selected for the third of four Play, Poet and Pastry (PPP) evenings that offer world premier drama, brand new poetry and a live post-performance discussion.

Taking place for one night only at the Theatre Royal, on Friday 26 January, the event will centre on Giles’ newly written play called Freckle which explores the limits of love.

A Play, A Poet and A Pastry has been devised by Dumfries and Galloway-based Bunbury Banter Theatre Company to bring high quality theatre and poetry to audiences in south-west Scotland.

It’s also designed to generate a genuine sense of spontaneity throughout. The poet’s task is to respond to the play – and have a strictly limited time in which to work.

The two-person cast (unveiled next week) faces an even stricter challenge, having just a fortnight and two rehearsals before going on stage.

Philip Anderson-Dyer, Producer and co-founder of Bunbury Banter, said: “Live art is always challenging, but we have designed PPP to push this much further in order to get the freshest possible performances – and it’s proving a great success.

“The first two events went down a storm with the audiences and Freckle will hopefully build on this as it involves another exciting playwright, and a highly accomplished poet, and focuses on compelling emotional themes.”

Freckle introduces the audience to Stevie and Aoife, a couple whose lives are engulfed by a horror from their past.

Married, mortgaged, model parents – they were just like the rest of their suburban neighbourhood. They are now back together after an enforced separation and trying to put their lives back together in a world awash with guilt, pain and regret; recriminations as much a part of the household as taking the bins out and making the school run.

As the gulf between them widens, reaching out to each other and bridging the chasm seems harder than simply slipping into the abyss.

The performances will be followed by a discussion involving the cast, playwright and poet in the theatre’s studio over pastries.

Bunbury Banter are specialists in new and experimental theatre and have recently produced Blackout to much acclaim, worked with the National Theatre of Scotland on the Five-Minute Festival, and a web-based audio production called Mortar which starred Timothy West, Prunella Scales and Nichola McAuliffe.

A Play, A Poet & A Pastry involves the semi-staging of the plays. It is supported by the Holywood Trust, DGU’s Regional Arts Fund and Dumfries and Galloway Arts Live. The pastries are provided by the Marchbank Bakery.

The King of Pop Moonwalks to the Theatre Royal

The Vitesse Agency are proud to present the return of one of their theatre tours REVIVE – THE ULTIMATE MICHAEL JACKSON TRIBUTE. A show which will journey through the music of MICHAEL JACKSON starring UK MJ Tribute JAY STYLES & his amazing live band consisting of some of the UK’s top musicians.


JAY STYLES is an incredible tribute artist lookalike, sound alike and dance alike. Unlike most tribute acts out there, Jay has a close resemblance to the king of pop. He sings 100% live and performs mesmerizing dance routines from Thriller to Smooth Criminal in this outstanding Michael Jackson Tribute Show. 


His performance has been seen by the Jackson family and he has moon walked his way throughout the world including Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Poland, UK, Bahrain and Dubai. This show includes all the greatest Michael Jackson hits from the Jackson 5 to the solo masterpieces including Smooth Criminal, Billie Jean, Thriller, Bad, You Are Not Alone, Beat It, Man In The Mirror, Black Or White, Will You Be There and many more.


This show is guaranteed to have you dancing in the aisles from start to finish whether you are a true MICHAEL JACKSON fan or you have just found a new love for his unforgettable style of music.


REVIVE – THE ULTIMATE MICHAEL JACKSON TRIBUTE comes to the Theatre Royal Dumfries on Friday 9th February 2018.


Tickets are £14 with concessions available & can be booked by calling the box office on 01387 254209

or alternatively online by visiting


ELVIS is in the building, Well the Theatre Royal

The Vitesse Agency are proud to present one of their new theatre tours PRESLEY – THE ULTIMATE ELVIS TRIBUTE. A show which will journey through the music of Elvis starring UK Elvis Tribute Paul Molloy & his amazing live band consisting of some of the UK’s top musicians.

Being a fan of Elvis and his amazing legacy from an early age, Paul would go on to discover his ability to recreate the sound of the king and to enjoy portraying his career throughout the many different eras and styles from the 50s to the 70s.

Many awards and countless shows later working with top celebs such as Des O’ Connor and John Bishop to name a few have put Paul in the category of one of the UK’s top Elvis Tributes.

This show is guaranteed to have you dancing in the aisles from start to finish whether you love this legendary era or you have just found a new love for this unforgettable style of music.

PRESLEY – THE ULTIMATE ELVIS TRIBUTE comes to the Theatre Royal Dumfries on Friday 19th January 2018.

Tickets are £14 with concessions available & can be booked by calling the box office on 01387 254209
or alternatively online by visiting

An Evening of Murder Most Fun at the Theatre Royal

Crime writers deal with dark deeds and thoughts – but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a laugh.
In January, theatre goers in Dumfries have the chance to see seven of Scotland’s best put the ho-ho-ho into ho-ho-homicide. And the audience will take part.

First up in this melange of mirth and murder is Four Blokes in Search of a Plot.
Neil Broadfoot, Gordon GJ Brown, Mark Leggatt and Douglas Skelton will invite audience members to supply a main character and a murder weapon and then take it in turns to create a crime story from scratch. The audience selects who will take the next shift, and that author will then don the sacred Tea Cosy of Inspiration and write 50-70 words while the other three field questions about crime and writing. The idea is to not only progress what quickly becomes a fairly ludicrous plot but also to leave it on such a cliff-hanger that it challenges the next writer selected.
Gordon Brown said, “We’d travelled around as a team before but the idea of literally searching for a plot was born out of last year’s Saltire Society #ScotLitFest, when over a period of four hours we took it in turns to write a story on Facebook.”
Mark Leggatt continued, “We kept in contact with each other ‘behind the scenes’ via Skype and we realised that there was so much nonsense going on between us that the Facebook audience couldn’t see, so we thought we’d take it on the road.”
“It’s really quite daunting,” said Neil Broadfoot, “but it’s loads of fun and the audiences in Stirling and Glasgow, who saw it last year, really took to it.”

The second half of this double bill sees authors Caro Ramsay, Lucy Cameron, Michael J. Malone and Douglas Skelton stretch their acting muscles to play multiple roles in the comedy mystery play ‘Carry on Sleuthing: Murder at the Knickerage.’ They read from the script, in the manner of a radio play, but complement it with strange costumes and visual humour.
The original script was written by Skelton, but he says the cast have brought their own touches to it.
“There is a mystery to solve,” he explained, “but the audience has to find the clues among the bad jokes, dodgy accents and, frankly, a world of nonsense.”
This is the second Carry on Sleuthing in which the cast have performed – the first one was enjoyed by audiences at various venues in Glasgow, Ayr, Irvine, Paisley and Grantown-onSpey.
“But this one is bigger and better,” said Michael J. Malone. “It is,” agreed Caro Ramsay, “but better than what, I’m not sure.”
Lucy Cameron is a Dumfries-based author who was instrumental in bringing both shows to town. She said, “I saw the new play at its premiere in Grantown-on-Spey, and the Four Blokes in Stirling, and knew they would be ideal for the Theatre Royal. I’m looking forward to appearing it – if I can perfect a Glasgow accent!”

‘Four Blokes in search of a Plot’ and ‘Carry On Sleuthing’ can be seen in the Theatre Royal, Dumfries on Tuesday January 23, 2018, beginning at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £8 for each individual show and £12 for the two.

Threatened Rural School Closures

Alive at FiveThree primary schools in Dumfries & Galloway are currently threatened with closure. Join Mark Smith for Alive at Five, investigating the issues involved, joined live in the studio by campaigners from Ae Village and Kirkbean; two of the threatened schools.

Wednesday 27th September, from 5pm.

We want to hear from you too – tweet @aliveradio, post on our Facebook Page, text 07 564 364 464 or call 01387 733322

Eden is almost here, top tips to make the most of the festival

The count down is on!

Eden Festival is opening its gates this Thursday welcoming festival goers from across the UK and beyond. Set in the stunning Raehills Meadows of Dumfries and Galloway this family friendly event has really catered for all.  Hosting 12 stages with 300 performers, you can also catch some theatre, comedy, art and more.


We caught up with Adam Curtis, Eden Festival Founder, for his top ten tips for you to get the most out of your Eden experience.


  1. Grab some popcorn, climb into your vehicle of choice and watch a film in our Vintage Drive in Cinema.
  2. Looking for love? Take part in Blind Date at the Thunderdome this Saturday at 3.30pm.
  3. Join Vamous Arts who will be helping you create masterpieces with paint and pencil’s for our very own charity auction.
  4. A crowd pleaser and one of our favorites, Mr Motivator in all his Lycra glory will be re-energizing you with an uplifting workout on Saturday afternoon at 2pm.
  5. New to Eden Festival this year is the Mountain Stage, supported by EventScotland (part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate and in celebration of the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.) We have actually built this construction from scratch, which in time will blend into the natural surroundings and this year it will feature the best acts to come out of Scotland.
  6. The kids can show off their talents too in the Casa Caliente tent for the Open Mic Children’s Talent Stage.
  7. You can sit back and relax while Gypsy Disco make all the effort with their acrobatic performance in Furry Chillum Stage.
  8. Celebration Parade, a super charged music finale in the Garden of Eden, Sunday at 7pm. Bring an instrument and/or something to bang.
  9. Not forgetting the kids’ procession, where they dress up and wave their hand made creations which they produced in the free weekend workshops.
  10. My biggest tip, just keep your eyes peeled and walk around the site having a peak in every space, make new friends and soak up the music and the atmosphere.


This year’s Eden Festival has been made more accessible by their release of day tickets. You can purchase them on line or on the gate.

Day Tickets – £45 Friday, £45 Saturday only

Saturday & Sunday – £75 and Sunday only £39


Weekend tickets cost £119 for an adult, £95 for a teenager and under 12’s get in free! (Must be accompanied by an adult).


DGARTS FESTIVAL 2017: Trad with a difference

Traditional music with a difference comes to the region as part of the continuing programme of the 2017 Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival.

Award-winning musician Mairi Campbell presents her new solo theatre show in New Galloway and Dumfries this week.

In Pulse, Mairi sings, acts, plays and dances the story of her musical homecoming and journey of the heart, weaving live viola, voice, animation, movement and storytelling with tracks from her eponymous ground-breaking album.

The show, which is co-devised and directed by Kath Burlinson, begins with Mairi feeling creatively stultified by her classical training at the Guildhall School of Music in London. She then travels to Mexico and Cape Breton before returning to Scotland to take up her bow in the traditional music scene. In the background is her love story with her husband and musical collaborator Dave Francis, who teaches her to play her first tune by ear.

Pulse is deeply touching, funny and potent.  The show is a significant development in Mairi’s artistry and is performed with an incredible power, commitment and energy.

Pulse was showcased in Edinburgh in June 2015 and at Celtic Connections in January 2016. In August 2016, the show then ran for a full month at the Fringe to amazing critical and audience feedback.

Mairi Campbell: Pulse takes place at the CatStrand, New Galloway, on Friday, 1 June at 7.30pm and the Theatre Royal, Dumfries, on Saturday, 2 June at 5pm.

Also on Friday, and making a welcome return to the region’s stages, are inventive Scottish-based trio Bellevue Rendezvous who will be launching their new album with a concert at the Fullarton Theatre at 7.30pm. The band is headed up by Journeyman frontman Gavin Marwick and is completed by Dumfries and Galloway-based musicians Ruth Morris and Cameron Robson.

They will be supported by Wigtownshire musician Jenn Butterworth and Laura-Beth Salter.

Tickets to all events from the Midsteeple Box Office on 01387 253383 or from


A MUSICAL comedy based on the “real life love story” of playwright and songwriter Noel Coward and actress Gertrude Lawrence is set to wow audiences at the Theatre Royal Dumfries.


The production – Noel & Gertie – is a revival of Sheridan Morley’s hit play that originally ran in the West End for nine years and has been crafted from diaries and letters between the pair. 2017 is the tenth anniversary of Morley’s death and so the play is being revived as a celebration of his life.


It is set to run at the Theatre Royal Dumfries on Thursday the 16th of March 2017.


Matthew Townshend, the director and producer, said: “This play encapsulates a real-life love story and the complex relationship between an extraordinary duo who were inseparable until Gertrude’s premature death from cancer.


“It epitomizes an era of sophistication and elegance and features songs, sketches and snippets of scenes from some of Coward’s most famous work.


“It also has a superb cast. It’s a show not to miss.”


Helen Power, who has previously appeared in Sunset Boulevard on the West End and appeared in the UK tour of Chess will play Gertie, while Ben Stock, whose credits include West End performances of Grease and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, will play Coward. Musical direction is by the acclaimed Steven Edis and live piano accompaniment is provided by Johnathan Lee.


The musical, from Matthew Townshend Productions, showcases more than 20 songs and scenes from shows including Private Lives and Blithe Spirit and is set to be a sell-out success.


It has already met with rave reviews after being featured as part of Frinton Summer Theatre’s 2014 75th Anniversary season and over the next two months the production will tour the UK with 26 venues lined up.


For more information or to book tickets visit or

Lockerbie Jazz Festival 2016


There’s a host of new initiatives creating extra interest around this year’s Lockerbie Jazz Festival.


Alongside the Festival headliners – Rose Room, Hamish Stuart’s 360, Leroy Jones, Mike Zito, Blues n”Trouble, and Alan Barnes – the Festival is shouting out to young people to join the new Youth Singing Group. The Group, created at Lockerbie Academy on the initiative of the Jazz Festival, is hoping to attract and develop vocal talent in the same way that the Dumfries and Galloway Youth Jazz Orchestra does for instrumentalists.


The group is run by one of the country’s top Choir leaders, Elliot Murray, a great singer and band leader in his own right, and it’s open to school pupils from across the region. They’ve been holding rehearsals every Monday at 4pm, and will play their first concerts at this year’s Lockerbie Jazz Festival.


Whilst the spark for the idea has come from the Festival, it’s the funding support of the Holywood Trust, and the enthusiasm and drive of Bryony Ladd and Alison Menzies at the Academy that has got the project off the ground.


Bryony Ladd, (Drama Teacher and PT Creative and Aesthetic Faculty) said, “We are delighted that this is taking place and are looking forward to the group appearing at the Jazz Festival.”


Davie Wilson, Chair of Lockerbie Jazz Festival Steering Committee said: “After eleven years the festival continues to seek new ways of attracting audiences and excite festival goers.”


Councillor Colin Smyth, the Council’s Events Champion said, “It don’t mean a thing, if it ain’t got that swing – but fortunately the Jazz Festival has swing and chutzpah in abundance – its a wonderful weekend of music and it always lifts the spirits.”

 colin smyth

Lockerbie Jazz Festival takes place from September 23-25. Dumfries and Galloway Council are providing a grant of £7000 from its unique Major Festivals and Events Strategy.


Information from


Tickets from 01387 253383

National Football Tour Hits Dumfries

Dan Gray

Dan Gray

Football and literary fans from across Dumfries & Galloway are being given the chance to take part in a special ‘football night out’ as part of a campaign to highlight the positives of the ‘Beautiful Game’

On Wednesday 13th April at 7:30pm Palmerston Stadium will play host to cult football travel writer Daniel Gray and leading charity Nil by Mouth as they team up to host a special author and football quiz night. The event is part of a nationwide ‘Kiss Bigotry Goodbye’ tour which seeks to highlight the positive impact football makes on communities across Scotland. The event is also being supported by the Queens Trust and is free of charge with complimentary refreshments available.

‘Kiss Bigotry Goodbye’ was launched last summer by Nil by Mouth and hundreds of people have taken part in events including quiz nights, school sports competitions, penalty kick competitions and online campaigns encouraging fans to post images of what make them love the game.  Support from the Scottish Government ensured all ten dates on the tour are free of charge.

Daniel Gray is the author of Stramash: Tackling Scotland’s Towns and Teams, a football travelogue which takes him across 12 Scottish towns and teams during a football season. Daniel also hosts STV Edinburgh’s People’s History Show. Last year Daniel was nominated for a prestigious Saltire Award in the Non-Fiction category for his book ‘This is Scotland’. During the event he will read from a number of his books and take questions from the audience about his adventures across Scottish towns and football clubs including Dumfries and Queen of the South.

Nil by Mouth was set up by teenager Cara Henderson after the brutal sectarian murder of her school friend Mark Scott as he made his way home from a football match in 1995. Since then the charity has campaigned to raise awareness of sectarianism on, and off, the pitch including a hugely successful education programme which has seen them work with schools in the D&G region, most recently Gretna Primary School. (more…)