Over Lunan celebrates the northeastern coast's rich and unique history
- Megan Merino
- 18 September 2021
The radio documentary and live spectacle at Lunan Bay beach blurs the lines between fact and fiction
Hidden in the cocoon-like dunes of Lunan Bay beach on the northeastern coast of Scotland lies the uniquely atmospheric Over Lunan installation created especially for the Arbroath 2020+1 festival. The commission is described as a 'sound and visual promenade performance' and combines elements of theatre with light and sound installations to publicly commemorate the rich history and mythology associated with Lunan Bay and how it connects with the rest of the world. From exploring the mysterious etymological origin of 'Lunan', which has shown to fall into both Greco-Roman neoclassical and Gaelic territory, to a curious connection between Lunan Bay and the 'cradle of civilisation', Mesopotamia, Over Lunan manages to be ambitious in its intention and emotive in its execution.
Over Lunan was first created in the form of a 40 minute radio documentary of the same name before a live experience could be guaranteed. The audio work, directed and scripted by Purni Morell, tells the story of Lunan through the eyes of fictional journalist Charlie Ross, who dedicated several months to studying the landscape and its history before disappearing on the beach before his work was complete. The first dune is dedicated to this narrative and shows artefacts and props that allow for the research to be explained to audience members by onsite actors.
In the next (and final) dune comes the immersive sound portion, written by composer Andrew Knight-Hill in collaboration with conductor Bede Williams, St Salvator's Chapel Choir led by Claire Innes-Hopkins, Cameron Sinclair and Angus Farquhar. The piece plays with the acoustic make-up of the dunes to create an immersive and completely awe-inspiring experience. Sinclair and Farquhar play live wooden marimbas (covering a two octave range) over the recorded work inspired by ancient Babylonian mythology while audience members sit under the stars surrounded by flickering flames.
Creator of Over Lunan, Angus Farquhar (creative director of arts organisation Aproxima Arts) said: 'It's quite an intense piece of music. It's very physical. From being isolated [due to Covid-19] to hearing that real sense of the physical; the music, fire, the location, everything is stripping you down to your most basic form.'
When asked why he chose this particular part of the country to base his work on, Farquhar said: 'If you haven't grown up in the county [Angus], you cannot believe how powerful this coastline is. It has so much to tell. It's unique and it stands up equally to any part of Scotland and yet a lot of people don't know about it… so Lunan chose itself.
Over Lunan is an atmospheric experience that highlights the sheer power and beauty of the sea. The exploration of time, history and myth through sound and story is thought provoking and allows audiences to immerse themselves in the landscape in a way they've never been able to before.
Over Lunan is available to listen to at aproxima.co.uk/over-lunan-radio. Live performances are now sold out.