A nod to the past to inspire the future at Aberdeen's Festival of New Ideas

A creative look to the past seeks to inspire audiences attending the University of Aberdeen's first Festival of New Ideas to think differently about what the future holds.

Two events on the programme for the new mini festival, which takes place on May 27-28, will see both a classic 1940s radio studio and some of Aberdeen city centre’s most iconic buildings brought to life.

A live radio play version of The 39 Steps will take place on May 28. Set in a  radio studio, four actors will narrate the well-known tale of murder, love and espionage, creating both multiple memorable characters and many of the sounds effects. The fun production will see the story of John Buchan’s great novel told in under an hour, as audiences step inside the broadcasting studio and watch the making of a live drama during the golden age of radio.

Produced by Aberdeen’s Ten Feet Tall production company, the group is dedicated to creating unique experiences and making their community tours accessible for all. This production is part of their ‘pay what you feel’ initiative, so whilst advance booking is essential, attendees are asked to decide what they wish to pay in cash on the day.

Stewart Aitken, Associate Artist, said: “Theatre is something that can be perceived as not for everyone but that’s really not true. We are passionate about bringing creative activities to new audiences and are delighted to be working with the University on this exciting project which we hope audiences of all ages and experiences will enjoy.

“While the performers will not be acting out the parts in the traditional, visual sense, the audience will see the twists and turns of this fast-paced spy adventure played out in a way many will never have seen before.”

Following the performance there will be a Q&A discussion with members of Ten Feet Tall Theatre and Professor Eleonora Belfiore, Director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Social Inclusion and Cultural Diversity at the University of Aberdeen.

They will talk about cultural inclusion and using this production as part of a new direction to engage harder to reach audiences and participants. There will also be an opportunity to hear about the creative process of producing an idea from page to stage.

Exploring the controversies of Aberdeen’s heritage, architecture and future will also form part of the Festival’s look at how the past and present can shape what comes next.

The free Future of Aberdeen's Past Walking Tour takes place on May 27, with attendees joined by Dr Chris Croly, Public Engagement with Research Manager at the University, Douglas Campbell of the Aberdeen City Heritage Trust and Valentine Quinio of the Centre for Cities, discussing how the grand granite buildings of by-gone eras can be sustained into the future. The 90 minute tour will start at the Mercat Cross at the Castlegate.

“Aberdeen’s city centre is at an important juncture the decisions that are taken now will have a long lasting impact,” said Dr Croly. “This walk will reflect on how the city evolved, its heritage and look to how it might tackle major issues moving forward. Aberdonians have always taken great pride in their city and continue to do so today – this walk will reflect on historical and present day debates on the future of our city.”

The Festival of New Ideas is the second in the UNI-Versal series of new mini festivals organised by the University of Aberdeen and aims to showcase some of the world-class research, ideas and inventions that are happening right here in the north-east.

The Festival takes place on May 27-28. The full programme of events and booking details can be found here.