Jan Tait and the Bear 2018

29 August 2018

Catherine Backhouse and Brian McBride in Ensemble Thing's Jan Tait and the Bear

Here are some great photos by Kinagram Limited of Ensemble Thing’s recent performances of Emily Doolittle’s opera Jan Tait and the Bear, which I conducted. In August we gave six performances of the piece at Summerhall, Edinburgh, as part of the 2018 Made in Scotland Showcase.

Alan McHugh as the Narrator in Ensemble Thing's Jan Tait and the Bear.

The production starred Catherine Backhouse as Jan Tait, Brian McBride in a multitude of roles, and Alan McHugh as the narrator. It was directed by Stasi Schaeffer.

Brian McBride as Sigurd in Ensemble Thing's Jan Tait and the Bear.

The band, costumed and on stage throughout, also doubles as the chorus and has some tricksy singing passages and speaking roles to perform. August’s performances featured Alex South (clarinet), Aileen Sweeney (accordion) and Emily Walker (cello).

Brian McBride, Alan McHugh and Ensemble Thing in Jan Tait and the Bear.

Made in Scotland supports Scottish artists to bring work to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and to take advantage of international opportunities received from performing at the festival. Since 2009, the showcase has featured over 200 shows.

Catherine Backhouse as Jan Tait in Ensemble Thing's Jan Tait and the Bear 2.

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Jan Tait and the Bear @ Made in Scotland Showcase

8 August 2018

Jan Tait banner

Following two previous appearances at the Made in Scotland Showcase at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (with 2014’s Replaceable Things and 2015’s Independence), I’m very happy to say that Ensemble Thing, the new music group I direct, will return to Summerhall as part of the Showcase to perform Emily Doolittle’s delightful opera Jan Tait and the Bear.

Jan Tait and the Bear had its origins in 2010 when Emily visited Shetland for the first time and wrote an opera based on the local tale of Jan Tait: when he is overcharged by an unscrupulous tax collector, Jan Tait strikes back. He is transported to Norway to account for his crimes before the king, but instead of meeting his fate, he meets a fearsome bear who needs Jan as much as Jan needs him.

Ensemble Thing premiered the work at the CCA, Glasgow, in October 2016 and we’re delighted to reunite our original cast and production team for this run of six performances in Edinburgh. The opera is directed by Stasi Shaeffer and stars Catherine Backhouse as Jan Tait, Brian McBride in a multitude of roles, and the show is narrated by Alan McHugh. It’s been great fun to revisit this work!

Ensemble Thing will perform Emily Doolittle’s Jan Tait and the Bear at Summerhall, Edinburgh, on 8th, 9th, 13th and 14th August 2018 at 1pm, and on 15th and 16th August 2018 at 10:30am. Tickets are available here.

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Gig!

6 October 2016

Jan Tait poster

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Jan Tait and the Bear

1 October 2016

Next week I’ll be conducting Ensemble Thing’s latest project, a new opera by Emily Doolittle called Jan Tait and the Bear. Based on a story handed down by oral tradition since medieval times, this new comedic chamber opera tells the story of Jan Tait, a rugged Shetlander who is always ready for an adventure. When he is over-charged by an unscrupulous tax collector, Jan Tait strikes back. He is transported to Norway to account for his crimes before the King, but instead of meeting his fate, he meets a ferocious bear who needs Jan as much as Jan needs him. This Ensemble Thing production features Alan McHugh (The Garden, Limmy’s Show), Catherine Backhouse (EIF, St Magnus Festival) and Brian McBride (Scottish Opera). Directed by Stasi Schaeffer, Jan Tait and the Bear blends truth, fantasy and rough, earthy humour and will appeal to both music and folklore fans of all ages. I’m very much looking forward to the performances.

Ensemble Thing perform Jan Tait and the Bear on Thursday 6th October (8pm) and on Saturday 8th October (1pm) 2016 at the Centre for Contemporary Arts, 350 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. Tickets can be purchased here.

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