We zoomed into 2017 at full throttle. Not only were we redeveloping Fisk and staging its Scottish premier at Macrobert Arts Centre, we were also developing a work in progress sharing of The Ornithopter for the Manipulate Festival. With Arran and Alex on the road with Fisk, Ross stepped up to perform. It had been a long time since he was last on stage, but it was a definite highlight. Ross & Jim had an exhilarating time getting back into the performance groove and sharing some very early ideas.
February was a whole lot of Fisk, travelling all around Scotland in a van and a cheeky wee trip on a boat. Our first trip to Shetland was a definite highlight, the island with the ever changing weather, where ne’er shall a brolly be took. We sampled the delights of Scotland’s local cuisines and a few after show pints were enjoyed.
In March we made the trip back to Denmark and brought a freshly zhooshed Fisk back to our host partner Teater Katapult, in Aarhus. They’re our favourite people in the whole of Denmark (and we’ve been around A LOT of Denmark) and it was great to bring the production back to its spiritual home.
April was a fab month, the majority of which was spent in Dundee. We were working with a great group of youngsters brought together by Dundee Rep and Scottish Dance Theatre. They devised their own promenade piece around the stunning Verdant Works. It was incredible to see them work with and respond to techniques we had used in past performances and their own imaginative responses were fantastic to see. Plus we went to Olympia like big kids and had slush puppies. Win.
May was a month for planning, evaluating and admin. Not the sexiest of month plans but it allowed us to shape a few ideas for the year ahead and catch up on some writing. The month ended with a week of brilliant theatre curtesy of the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival. We all took off our Tortoise hats to help around the festival and enjoy some world class performance work for young audiences.
June saw us stretching out our wings and finding we needed a bit more elbow room. Cue a move of office to Assembly street where we joined the team behind Big House Events and became one of the collection of companies and creators that make up their ‘Makers Yard’. The extra space came in handy quite literally straight away as we tackled applications and projects galore, including a lot of time thinking about Christmas… which felt strange in the Scottish Summer sun.
We parted ways for a short time over the summer. Ross headed off to work on his own project, whilst the rest of the team took off to the Kotorski Festival in Montenegro with not one but two shows! Not only that, but on top of having a great time, we bagged two awards one for best design for The Lost Things and an award for outstanding performance for Alex’s work in Fisk. This means that all our current repertoire productions are now award-winning internationally touring shows!
August was a packed month but with Tortoise taking a step back we celebrated the work of our associates. With both our Artistic Director Ross having his own show at the festival, the wonderful Velvet Evening Séance, and performer Matthew Leonard with his own brilliant piece My Name is Irrelevant. We had our own mini show on at the National Galleries Family Fun day, where Arran’s mouth exploding with marshmallows was a real highlight in a very busy theatre filled month.
We took a trip to one of the most beautiful spots in the world in September. Three flights and a couple of hours outside of Edinburgh are the Lofoten Islands of Norway, home to the small town of Stamsund and producing house Nordlands Teater. A chance to discuss new projects, we found the Norwegian life appeals to us A LOT and we’re hoping to head back very soon. September also saw Team Tortoise All Star Member, Arran Howie, undertake our first full masterclass weekend on building theatre from scratch. It was the business and we have a bundle more sessions planned in the not-so-distant future.
Autumn had arrived, and winter was soon approaching. So, we were in full flow planning and developing our festive show. This involved bringing some exciting new members into team Tortoise. Following an open workshop audition we found our two fabulously talented performers Mel Jordon and Christie Mitchell, whose energy and natural chemistry on stage made rehearsals a delight. Added into this mix was good friend and long-time champion Matt Addicott, who brought a wealth of working with under 5s experience and both complemented and challenged our styles of working. Joining them was our company composer Jim Harbourne (never failing with his music delights), tech wizard Andy Gannon and multi-functioning production manager Mickey Graham. Tortoise was bursting at the seams with talent, Flutter was ready to head into rehearsals.
November was all a flutter with Flutter. Many different hats were donned as we worked with new people and opened ourselves to different creative opportunities. A very exciting month of highs and lows, both filled with playing and fun but also struck down with company illnesses. We became children exploring in the snow, testing sandwich fillings and spending a decent amount of time at A&E. Highlights were everywhere and a few too many lows also worked their way in, but straddling the two were some very good friends, helping to make snowballs at midnight.
Sold out shows and new project thinking dominated December…with a sprinkling of bone healing for Alex too… Flutter tickets sold like hot cakes, with even extra performances selling out fast. Performers Mel and Christie were cracking and almost managed to keep up with Filip’s audience appeal, which is really saying something. A pleasure to work on from start to finish Flutter was our first Christmas production and we’re intensely proud of it. Finally, to top off the year, we even managed to squeeze in some thoughts on a new production…entitled Ragnarök. All about fate, the end of days and personal loss, it promises to be big. Much like 2017 was!