Aberdeen’s cultural countdown to 2012

Aberdeen is set to host a weekend of free cultural events as part of a countdown to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

With a year to go before the games kick off, more than 1200 sporting and cultural events are being held throughout the country, as part of the London 2012 Open Weekend, supported by BP.

And in Aberdeen this weekend (July 22 to 24), Culture Crush brings together some of Scotland’s top arts organisations - the National Theatre of Scotland, Aberdeen Performing Arts (APA), CityMoves, Aberdeen Art Gallery and SMART Consultants - to stage three days of cultural festival fun, supported by BP and in association with Creative Scotland.

APA is to stage four events as part of the weekend project. These include two public readings of The Cone Gatherers, with respected director Kenny Ireland and dramatist Peter Arnott at 2.30pm on Saturday (July 23) at His Majesty’s Theatre and 2.30pm on Sunday (July 24) at Aberdeen Art Gallery.

The classic Scottish novel by Robin Jenkins is a haunting tale of good versus evil, set on a Scottish estate during World War ll and has been adapted for the stage by Peter Arnott, following HMT’s two critically-acclaimed productions, Sunset Song and The Silver Darlings.

APA Young Person’s Company will stage their first piece of devised theatre, The Cubicle at The Academy Shopping Centre at 9pm and 10pm on Saturday, taking inspiration from toilet graffiti collected from in and around Aberdeen and offering a fun, outlandish and frank state of the nation portrait.

Like the other events, this is free but booking is required, tickets from Aberdeen Box Office online at www.boxofficeaberdeen.com, by phone at 01224 641122 or at the Music Hall and His Majesty’s Theatre.

APA’s Youth Theatre and Theatre Serendipity (for the over 50s) have joined forces to stage Spend a Minute with Us, at The Academy Shopping Centre, an intergenerational and interactive event which invites people to share their memories from childhood, express their hopes and aspirations for the future, and explore the stereotypes present in our society.

In a collaboration involving APA, Aberdeen City Council’s Arts Development team, theatre company Visible Fictions and Danceworxx from Germany, young performers from Aberdeen, and its twin city of Regensburg will share a piece of street theatre which was created by the group and performed in June at Bürgerfest in Regensburg. It will be staged as part of a Theatre Decathlon, a race against time on the streets of Aberdeen where they will be given 10 ways of creating a piece of street theatre for performance in some of the busiest shopping points in the city and in Union Terrace Gardens.

As part of their contribution to the Culture Crush weekend, National Theatre of Scotland will present three participatory events at The Academy Shopping Centre from 11am to 4pm daily.

These are The Hairdresser’s Salon, where hairdresser-turned-artist Alan Grieve invites folk to share their celebratory stories with him in exchange for a haircut; Telephone Box – Who You Gonna Call? invites people to step back in time and experience an intimate phone conversation with a stranger in an old-fashioned red telephone box and By Order of Me, a special collection of images and film created around the artwork on Broad Hill, exploring the personal responses of young Aberdonians to their city’s urban landscape.

Friday night at the Music Hall sees the return of National Theatre of Scotland’s popular Extreme Ceilidh – a high-energy evening fusing traditional ceilidh dances with modern moves, big beat electronic music and video.

And a unique dance production created by CityMoves - Songs from the Granite City - will develop seven new works using songs composed or performed by musicians from Aberdeen, including virtuoso percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, indie guitar band Eskimo Blonde, and singer Annie Lennox. On the Friday and Saturday, performances will ‘pop-up’ in various public spaces, such as Union Terrace Gardens, as well as in the Music Hall before the Extreme Ceilidh on the Friday.

As part of Culture Crush, a participative art experience entitled Design for Life, will be held in Aberdeen Art Gallery which will draw parallels between the natural world and the latest high-tech materials used by Olympic athletes to enhance their performance.

Full details for all Open Weekend events can be found at www.london2012.com/openweekend.