Many happy returns to Aberdeen Arts Centre as it celebrates its 60th birthday today.
And the city institution is marking this memorable milestone – six decades since it first opened its doors on October 18, 1963 – with a new evocative play, The Maggie Wall, running from tonight until Saturday.
Not only will it be part of a week of special events around the anniversary, The Maggie Wall will also be the launchpad for the future of the centre’s historic Children’s Theatre as a brand new space to foster professional theatre in Aberdeen.
The play, set against the backdrop of 3,000 innocent women executed in Scotland between the 16th and 18th centuries, sees young Maggie, beaten, bruised telling her story from a stark jail cell as she waits to be burned at the stake.
Actor Blythe Jandoo says it is an honour to portray such a powerful and moving character on such a special day for Aberdeen Arts Centre.
“It’s such a good story and Maggie is just a joyful character,” said Blythe. “Despite all the horrible things that happened to her, she manages to find fun in telling you a bit about her life and what that was like.
“She also tells you about the turning point, what happens that makes her end up where she ends up at the end of the play… which you will find out when you come to see it.”
Blythe said the work, which premiered last year at Pitlochry Festival Theatre, is a reminder of all the women – and men – who were executed during the dark days of Scotland’s witch hunts.
“It happened here in Aberdeen and it happened all over Scotland. They were real people, they weren’t witches. They were maybe a bit different, or they stood in the way of people who wanted more power. So it’s important we tell their stories and remember their names.”
Blythe is looking forward to telling Maggie’s story in the intimate space of the Children’s Theatre and especially as part of the centre’s week of events around its 60th anniversary.
“It’s an absolute honour to perform it in this special week for Aberdeen Arts Centre and it is brilliant to be part of showcasing the Children’s Theatre and what is possible for that space,” she said.
“The Arts Centre is so important as it can champion new Scottish work and new writing and this space, the Children’s Theatre, opens a room for them to be performed.”
Amy Liptrott, director of Aberdeen Arts Centre, is also the director of The Maggie Wall and said it was a special moment to stage the play on the actual 60th anniversary of the centre.
She added that presenting The Maggie Wall was also a pivotal moment for the Children’s Theatre, marking its transition as a space to support local professional artists.
“I’m hoping this is the start of a consistent programme of us supporting emerging artists, established artists and creatives to do their work here, by commissioning new work and by providing this redeveloped space,” said Amy.
“I know the Children’s Theatre has been there since 1950, predating the Arts Centre itself, but as a space where new work is developed, it is actually brand new. The Maggie Wall is a pivotal performance, putting a flag in the sand for the future.
“But it will need support, by people coming to see what we do, by donating to us online and by supporting the creatives who we then support. It’s the start of a long-term project and the possibilities are really exciting.”
You can find out more about The Maggie Walla and buy tickets here.
You can also support the vital work of Aberdeen Arts Centre by visiting its donation page here.