Star turns

School: Dingwall Primary, one of the largest primary schools in the Highlands with over 500 pupils.

What has been the best arts company to visit your school in the past year?

Hopscotch Theatre Company from Glasgow.

How did you hear about them? Initially the education officer at Eden Court Theatre in Inverness sent a flier round all the schools in the Highlands. Now the company gets in touch with us direct if it is touring in the area.

What did they do?

A dramatised performance of Burns's great poem, Tam o'Shanter. The performance featured a character playing Burns telling his wife the story of Tam - the original version. At various points the action would focus on a particular moment as the actors brought scenes alive from the text, elaborated on them and rounded out the characters described in the poem. Any difficult Scots words were explained by "Burns''. The set and the actors were extremely versatile, conjuring up busy scenes such as Poosie Nancy's pub and Tam being chased very effectively by the witches with a minimum of personnel. The costumes and the props were superb and added to the comedy of the performance.

Did you do any preparation beforehand?

Not too much. In this case we read the poem and clarified the story and any difficult words in it.

Was there any follow-up work?

We wrote poems in the style of Burns, using some of Tam's themes. We also prepared a huge wall frieze where the pupils drew the characters from the poem: the Devil, Meg, Souter Johnny, and so on. Also, my class learned most of the poem by heart for last week's Burns Supper.

How long did the company stay?

They did two performances, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

How much did they cost?

About Pounds 250.

Who paid?

The school fund.

What was so good about them?

The professionalism of the performance. It was a very high standard; the quality of the acting, the scenery and the props were excellent. And the production involved the children - a surefire way to success! Also, they were very quick setting up and clearing up.

* Hopscotch Theatre Company, tel: 0141 440 2025

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