Pitlochry Festival Theatre and Prime Theatre announce a real family treat this December when they present the Sound Stage premiere of the new audio play Donald and Benoit, a whimsical, magical, and musical tale for children of an unlikely friendship that has been brought to vivid life by the award-winning and heralded Scottish artist and playwright John Patrick Byrne and adapted by the multi-award-winning Jeanine Byrne.
Featuring original songs and co-directed by Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s Artistic Director Elizabeth Newman and the theatre’s Associate Director and composer Ben Occhipinti, Donald and Benoit will premiere on Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s audio-digital venture, Sound Stage from 17-19 December.
Benoit lives a life of mundane ordinariness in his Scottish seaside town. He is feeling very lonely with no mother and his father lost at sea, what could ever make him feel less lonely and sad? Enter Donald, the small and mischievous kitten.
Playwright and theatre maker Jeanine Byrne said: “I have long thought that John’s delightful children’s book Donald and Benoit would make a wonderful family Christmas show. I have mentioned this to John on many occasions over the years, but it was only at the end of last year, unexpectedly, he asked me to do the adaptation. He felt now was the time and, after my second diagnosis of cancer, John knew I was now dedicating all my spare energies’ to making work.
He originally wrote Donald and Benoit for his twins, Xavier and Honor. As I adapted the book it became apparent to me that Donald and Benoit are in fact the twins… Benoit the upright, honourable, and kind Xavier and Donald the mad cap, funny, spirited Honor. I wanted to honour John in this adaptation and have done so by inserting a few ‘echoes’ from John’s other works such as Radio DJ and a nod to Glenna’s famous long-sleeved jumpers – both from Tutti Frutti. After 15 years together, I could hear John in my head as I wrote- it was such a joy.”
The play’s cast features Connor Going (Indecent Proposal, Southwark Playhouse and Wind in the Willows, Pitlochry Festival Theatre) as Donald; Ross Baxter ( Spring Awakening and Gagarin Way, Dundee Rep) as Benoit; David Colvin (Black Watch, National Theatre of Scotland and Hamlet, Northern Broadsides) as Angus; Richard Colvin (A Christmas Carol, Bolton Octagon) as Wee Eck; Cara Kelly (Bloodlands and Trust Me, BBC One) as Salty; Keith Macpherson (Rapunzel, Citizens Theatre) as Jean Kiki; Colin McCredie (Taggart, ITV and The Wind in the Willows, Pitlochry Festival Theatre) as Bucky; Gavin Mitchell (Boabby in Still Game ) as Radio DJ; Patricia Panther (The Last Queen of Scotland and Glasgow Girls, both National Theatre of Scotland and Scot Squad BBC One) as Belle; Emilie Patry (Ghost Light, National Theatre of Scotland and A Christmas Carol, Pitlochry Festival Theatre) as Jolie; Kirsty Stuart (Faith Healer, Pitlochry Festival Theatre) as Mistress Senga McSporran and Ali Watt (Wind in the Willows and Smoking is bad for You, Pitlochry Festival Theatre) as Dorbie.
Sound Stage is an exciting new audio-digital venture, designed by theatre makers and leading technologists, giving audiences a unique and engrossing online theatre experience of new plays from the best in British theatre which, in the future, Pitlochry Festival Theatre hope to produce on stage.
Every Sound Stage performance will be accompanied by a post-show event for each showing, hosted on Sound Stage, inviting audiences to engage further with the creative teams behind Donald and Benoit.
Donald and Benoit will premiere on Sound Stage from 17-19 December. For tickets and further information visit www.pitlochryfestivaltheatre.com