Gaelic arts

Slainte mhath (good health)

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Electronic music, debates on sexual identity and live rock television - in the Year of Highland Culture Gaelic is still a force to be reckoned with, writes Kirstin Inness (translations below by Joy Dunlop)

GAELIC ARTS

Does Scotland still have a cohesive national identity? In the late 1980s, when Runrig’s Gaelic drumbeat pulsed through the charts, Wildcat staged ambitious promenade pieces and we all hated Thatcher, ‘Scottishness’ felt tangible. These days, our mainstream is diluted at best. Is there really anything distinctively Scottish about The Fratellis?

Four years ago, the Executive named 2007 Year of Highland Culture and programmed a series of events aiming to showcase everything that phrase encompasses. Inevitably, many of the events centre around Gaelic culture, the biggest of which is St Kilda: A European Opera (pictured), a massive-scale multimedia project, to take place on the island in June.

While cynical Central Belt-ers tend to regard Gaelic as an anachronistic joke, recent censuses have shown that over 10% of Scotland’s Gaelic speakers - more than 10,000 people - live in Glasgow. Almost 60% of them are under 44. The establishment of An Lochran as a permanent base for Gaelic arts in Glasgow has generated exciting theatre and concerts for this emergent, younger, urban audience - contemporary culture and Gaelic tradition both growing in stature, not empty modernisation for its own sake.

TAG Theatre’s There’s No V In Gaelic - devised with three professional actors and six women under 25 - sees young Glasgow-based, Gaelic-speaking women subverting the oral storytelling tradition to assert their own identities within the culture, as their confessional monologues explore what it’s like to be a woman in a culture that has historically repressed female sexuality.

One of the participants, 22-year-old Mairi Campbell, who has spoken Gaelic since birth although brought up in Glasgow, says, ‘There hasn’t been anything like this before. And if it raises eyebrows - well, that’s a good thing.’ Mairi feels it’s important that these events happen to change popular perceptions of Gaelic speakers. ‘It’s important to show that just because we speak Gaelic, it doesn’t mean we conform to that bagpipes and tartan cliché.’

Anna Ròc, of Gaelic electronica act Nad Aislingean, agrees: ‘When I first learned Gaelic, it was like stepping through a looking glass. There was this huge new world that was unlike the twee ‘Heeland’ stereotype.’ ‘Some of the edgiest pop music in Britain comes out of the Welsh-language underground scene and it feels like the same thing is happening in Gaelic,’ says her bandmate Tim Armstrong, originally from Seattle. ‘There is so much freedom to create in a minority-language mental space.’

Nad Aislingean are one of the acts featured on Rapal, the new music programme which launches on Thu 18 Jan on BBC 2. Rapal has run as a radio show on BBC Radio nan Gaidheal for five years and features live sets from The Needles and Attic Lights running alongside experiments in contemporary Gaelic music.

What the Year of Highland Culture seems to indicate is a cultural identity sure of itself even when in flux. Perhaps non-Gaels could learn something from that.

www.anlochran.co.uk contains information on all Gaelic events happening in Glasgow. Nad Aislingean’s music can be heard at www.myspace.com/nadaislingean

Prìomh thachartasan

The undoubted highlight of the Highland Year of Culture is St Kilda: a European Opera, a multi-artform performance on the summer solstice featuring film and aerial ballet off the cliffs. The opera will be broadcast in Scotland, Austria, Belgium, France and Germany (Highlands and Islands, June. www.en.gaelic-arts.com/st-kilda/the-vision).

Is a Gaelic Vagina Monologues possible? In There’s No V In Gaelic, playwright Seonag Monk, actors Cathy Ann MacPhee, Kathleen MacInnes and Margaret Bennet, along with six young Gaelic-speaking women who have never acted before, offer a series of meditations on contemporary female Gaelic life (Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow, Thu 25-Sat 27 Jan). Back up north again, visionary Skye arts hub An Tuireann on Skye is starting the year with Thar Chriochan, the search for a Gaelic-speaking resident artist and an exhibition from young Caithness sculptor Alan Begg (www.antuireann.org.uk). Glasgow’s Celtic Connections proves the pull of traditional Scottish music every January. This year, Gaelic culture is particularly well represented - Julie Fowlis (pictured), one of the most exciting young vocalists to emerge recently, is expected to play sold-out performances, as are Na h-Oganaich, the cult folk group from the 1970s, whose event has been organised by An Lochran (www.celticconnections.com).

If you like your Gaelic music a little more experimental, Rapal launches on BBC2 at 7pm on Thu Jan 18, with a live set from Crash My Model Car (pictured) and an exploration of what happens when you cross Gaelic poetry with beatboxing (www.bbc.co.uk/rapal)

Prìomh thachartasan

S e Hiort-Opra Eòrpach an rud as motha a bhios ann am Bliadhna Chulturach na Gaidhealtachd gun teagamh, tachartas iomadh-ealain air seas-ghrian shamhraidh le fiolm agus ballet adhair bho na creagan. Thèid an Opra a chraoladh ann an Alba, san Ostair, sa Bheilg, san Fhraing agus sa Ghearmailt. (sa Ghaidhealtachd sna h-Eileanan san Ogmhios. www.en.gaelic-arts.com/st-kilda/the-vision)

An gabh The Vagina Monologues a dhèanamh sa Ghàidhlig? Ann an There No V in Gaelic bheir sgrìobhadair Seonag Monk, cleasaichean Cathy Anna Nic a’ Phi, Kathleen NicAonghais agus Mairead Bennett [agus sianar ban-Ghàidheil nach do chleasaich riamh] sealladh air beatha nam boireannach òg san latha an-diugh.
(Citizen’s Theatre, Glaschu Diardaoin 25mh-Disthairne 27 den Fhaoilleach).

Gu tuath a-rithist agus tha an t-ionad ealain lèirsinneach An Tuireann san Eilean Sgitheanach a’ tòiseachadh na bliadhna le Thar Chrìochan, a’ sireadh ealantair stèidhichte Ghàidhlig agus cuideachd, taisbeanadh bho shnaidheadear òg à Gallaibh Ailean Begg. (www.antuireann.org.uk).

The Celtic Connections ann an Glaschu a’ dearbhadh tarraingeachd a’ chiùil Cheiltich gach Faoilleach. Am bliadhna seo, tha cultar na Gàidhlig air riochdachadh gu mòr - Thathas an dùil gun cluich Julie Fowlis, tè de na seinneadairean òga as mòr-chòrdte a th’ ann an-dràsta, ann an àiteachan loma-làn coltach ris Na h-Oganaich, sàr chòmhlan bho na 1970an. Chaidh an tachartas aca a chur air dòigh leis An Lochran (www.celticconnections.com).

Ma math leibh ur ceòl rud beag nas ùire, thèid Tbh Rapal a chur air bhog air BBC2 aig 7f Diardaoin 18mh den Fhaoilleach, le ceòl beò bho Crash My Model Car agus sgrùdadh air na thachras nuair a mheasgaicheas bàrdachd Ghàidhlig le beatboxing. www.bbc.co.uk/rapal.

Slàinte mhath

Ceòl digiteach, deasbadan air fèin-aithneachadh gnèitheach agus telebhisean roc beò- tha Gàidhlig fhathast cumhachdach ann am bliadhna chultarach na Gaidhealtachd.

A bheil aithneachadh nàiseanta ceangaltach fhathast aig Alba? Anmoch sna 1980an nuair a bha beum Runrig mòr-chòrdte ris a’ mhòr-shluagh, chuir Wildcat pìosan mòra, togarrach, air bhonn agus bha gràin againn uile air Thatcher. Dh’ fhairichear ‘faireachdainn na h-Alba’ gu soilleir. San latha a th’ ann, tha cultar a’ mhòr-shluaigh lag aig a’ char as fheàrr. A bheil dad Albannach gu sònraichte mu Na Fratellis?

Ceithir bliadhnaichean air ais, dh’ ainmich an Riaghaltas 2007 mar ‘Bliadhna Chultarach na Gaidhealtachd’ agus chaidh sreath de thachartasan a chur air dòigh airson seo a thaisbeanadh. Gu follaiseach ‘s ann air cultar na Gàidhlig a bhios tòrr dhiubh, agus s e Hiort: Opra Eòrpach an rud as motha. ‘S e pròiseact seanchais, dannsaidh, fiolm agus dealbh-cluiche ioma-mheadhain a th’ innte a ghabhas àite air an eilean san Ogmhios.

Ged a tha muinntir meadhan na dùthcha gu tric a’ beachdachadh air a’ Ghàidhlig mar fhealla-dha às-aimsireil, dhearbh cunntas-sluaigh ùr gu bheil barrachd air 10 às a’ cheud de luchd-labhairt na Gàidhlig-barrachd air 10, 000 duine-a’ fuireach ann an Glaschu. Cha mhòr gu bheil trì fichead anns gach ceud dhiubh nas òige na 44. Am bliadhna seo, tha an steidheachadh den Lòchran mar àite maireannach airson ealain Ghàidhlig ann an Glaschu air pròiseactan ùra tarraingeach a thòiseachadh airson luchd-èisteachd ùra, òga furmailteach. Tha dòighean ùra a-measgachadh le cleachdaidhean Gàidhlig agus tha iad gam fiosrachadh fhèin agus a’ fàs ann am brith an àite nuachumadh falamh.

Bho Bhuidheann-chluiche TAG - Chan eil V ann an Gàidhlig - pròiseact a chaidh a dhèanamh le triùir cluicheadairean proifeiseanta agus sianar bhoireannach fo aois 25 nach do chleasaich riamh. Tha seo a’ sealltainn boireannaich òga stèidhichte ann an Glaschu ri seanchas airson am fèin-aithneachadh fhèin a dhearbhadh am broinn a’ chultar aca. Tha na monologan aca a’ beachdachadh air cò ris a tha e coltach a bhith boireann ann an cultar a bha bho riamh gan cuingealachadh a thaobh cuspairean gnèitheach nam boireannach.

Thuirt Màiri Chaimbeul (22), tè de na cluicheadairean a rugadh agus a thogadh ann na Glaschu le Gàidhlig, ‘cha deach dad den t-seòrsa seo riamh a dhèanamh ann an coimhearsnachd Ghàidhlig. Agus ma chuireas e iongnadh air daoine- uill, ‘s e deagh rud a tha sin’. Tha Màiri a’ faireachdainn gu bheil e cudromach gun tachair pròiseactan den t-seòrsa seo ‘S ann air cuspairean àbhaisteach anns a bheil boireannaich àbhaisteach an sàs ‘s a tha na còmhraidhean seo. Saoilidh mi gu bheil e cudromach sealltainn gu bheil barrachd annainn ach tartan agus a’ phìob.’

www.anlochran.co.uk

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