A new Gaelic pantomime film raised the virtual curtains last week (Tuesday 8th December) to an online audience from Gaelic medium schools throughout the country and will be streamed to the public on Thursday 17th December at 7pm.
Ròs Bhàn agus na Seachd Sìthichean (Ròs Bhàn and the Seven Fairies), was written and directed by Angus Macleod, Drama Officer with Fèisean nan Gàidheal. Angus commented: “We knew early on in the year that the three-week tour we usually schedule for our pantomime wouldn’t be possible and looked at ways we could offer an online alternative. Although the majority of the scenes were filmed as live, the film format gave me the luxury of including many more characters than would usually be feasible. It also provided the opportunity to film a couple of scenes separately, one of which includes a cameo appearance by Mànran musician and singer, Ewen Henderson, as a Joe Wicks-inspired Jòn Joe Mac na Siobhaige.”
The cast, which features some actors who previously participated in Fèisean nan Gàidheal’s Gaelic Drama Summer School as teenagers, initially rehearsed via Zoom before meeting up for socially distanced rehearsals and filming in Inverness.
Josie Campbell, from Dingwall, plays the lead role of Ròs Bhàn. Aileas Macleod, from Skye, plays the part of the evil Queen Coronìnag and gets to air her singing voice in a most dastardly way during the performance. Bekah Macleod, also from Skye, plays the parts of all seven fairies and keeps control of Coisty the parrot. David Mackenzie from Glasgow plays Heeves, Queen Coronìnag’s butler.
Angus, who also makes a guest appearance as Ròs Bhàn’s elderly grandmother, added: “Performing a pantomime to camera without an audience, whilst adhering to social distancing measures, was a new experience for us all but that didn’t hinder the actors’ performances. It was also great to have such an excellent new facility and talented film crew at Limelight’s studio in Inverness which enabled us to produce the film to such a high standard.”
This is the 12th successive year Fèisean nan Gàidheal has produced a Gaelic pantomime through its arts in education service, Fèisgoil, with funding from Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Creative Scotland and HIE.
Eilidh Mackenzie, Fèisgoil manager, commented: “At this time of year, a team of actors is usually preparing to tour most Gaelic primary schools throughout the country and although the opportunity to follow the usual path was not there this year we felt it was important to try and offer a little fun, cheer and Christmas spirit to schools online. We are grateful to our funders for the opportunity to be able to offer this work to Gaelic actors, in spite of current Covid-related restrictions.”
Steven Kellow, Bòrd na Gàidhlig’s Funding and Projects Officer said: “We’re very happy to support Fèisean nan Gàidheal and this year’s Gaelic panto. It provides children across Scotland the opportunity to access Gaelic drama and we hope it lifts spirits after a difficult year.”
For more information about the panto film, contact Fèisgoil Manager Eilidh Mackenzie at firstname.lastname@example.org or Drama Officer Angus Macleod at email@example.com. To view the pantomime on Facebook, please visit www.facebook.com/feisean/live on the 17th December at 7pm.