Pupils get their heads together for Tete a Tete

15th December 2006 at 00:00
pupils from some of Shetland's farthest flung islands travelled to Lerwick for the only Scottish showing of the opera Odysseus Unwound.

The opera is based on Homer's epic Greek poem, the Odyssey. But London-based opera company, Tete ... Tete gave the story a contemporary slant by carrying out research and development on Shetland.

The original Odyssey features the Fates, a group of women who spin, knit and sing. Tete ... Tete worked with a group of Shetland knitters and spinners who passed on their skills to the company's singers and appeared in the show.

Music for the opera was provided by the London-based chamber ensemble, Chroma, which held Odysseus Unwound workshops with primary and junior high school pupils on the islands of Fair Isle, Unst, Fetlar, Yell and Skerries earlier this year. The workshops included music-making, creative writing, singing, movement and prop-making.

Chroma provided free tickets to the show, performed at Lerwick at the end of last month, plus travelling expenses for the pupils who took part. Now the musicians are spending two weeks in Shetland delivering more Odysseus Unwound workshops to schools.

For inspiration, the workshops draw not only on the Odyssey but on the true story of a Shetland knitter and spinner, Betty Mouat. She was renowned for her beautiful shawls, but during an ill-fated sea crossing in 1886 became stranded alone on a fishing boat. After nine days, however, she was safely washed ashore. She became a national celebrity and lived until she was 93.

* www.tete-a-tete.org.ukunwound

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