Wonder Fools are passionate about sharing untold stories in engaging, accessible ways. We are interested in how we can use different forms outside our theatre productions to explore ideas and spark conversations. This can be anything from creative learning workshops, that we have delivered alongside all our shows, to tailored events specific to individual projects, like the Celebration afternoon we held at the Citizens Theatre during Lampedusa.
As part of our upcoming tour of 549: Scots of the Spanish Civil War, we are delivering our most expansive creative learning programme to date with lots of 549 workshops for different groups across the country, thanks to generous support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and East Lothian Partnership Fund. In addition, we are creating an interactive exhibition that will tour with the show. One of the primary aims of 549 as a project is to champion the local, national and international impact of the people who went across to fight in Spain in 1936. The exhibition will tell the stories of members of the International Brigades who came from the places we will visit on our tour, in addition to the stories of George, Jock, Bill and Jimmy that are captured in the show itself. These will include verbatim accounts read by the acting ensemble and interviews with historians, experts and relatives of those who were part of the International Brigades. The exhibition itself will pop up in each venue and utilise an augmented reality app, designed by Michael Galbraith, through which audience members will experience the stories and sound design created by 549 composers VanIves.
We have loved reconnecting with people who have been such a huge part of our research process over the last few years and it is also exciting to meet new people and to hear about their unique connections to the 549 story. It was a pleasure revisiting Tam and Jimmy Watters, the sons of George, one of the characters in our play, in Prestonpans Labour Club to discuss the significant role their father played in our story. Mike Arnott, such a pivotal figure in the continuing commemoration of the International Brigades, was as insightful as he was when we first interviewed him over two years ago as part of our initial research process. Alongside our performances at the Citizens Theatre last year, we had Mark Gillespie’s ‘When the Gorbals Fought Franco’ on sale and it was great to finally meet Mark and discuss that community’s contribution in 1936 as well as his great-uncle’s specific journey. Daniel Gray, people’s historian and author of Spanish Civil War book ‘Homage to Caledonia’, is another person who has played an important role in the creation of 549. It is always inspiring to listen to Daniel’s detailed knowledge and burning passion around the conflict and a pleasure to include his thoughts in our exhibition. Daniel will also be part of post show discussions in both Prestonpans and Edinburgh as part of this summer’s tour. We met the secretary and chair of the International Brigade Memorial Trust in London, Marlene Sidaway and Jim Jump respectively. We also met Kath Campbell, the granddaughter of George Drever, a brigader and character we knew well from our research process and who it was fascinating to learn more about. We look forward to conducting more interviews in the coming weeks.
We are looking for volunteers to take audiences through the exhibition and to let people know what it’s all about. We will provide training so technical knowledge is not essential, you just need enthusiasm for connecting with people and helping them to engage with local heritage. Click on the links relating to each area for more information about how to get involved.