The Bunbury Banter: High Quality, Professional Theatre.
By Ali Anderson-Dyer, Director and co-founder of Bunbury Banter Theatre Company.
There’s no doubt about it, Dumfries and Galloway is a remarkably creative place. Bunbury Banter is a company that specialises in high quality new and experimental theatre and audio that was originally based in London but is now at home in Dumfries and Galloway. We relocated from an international metropolis with a population of millions to a rural region of south-west Scotland which is home to around 150,000.
It was perhaps not the most obvious decision for a business in an economically challenging sector like the performing arts, especially as we were well established and were producing work with the likes of Timothy West, Prunella Scales and Nichola McAuliffe. However, since coming to Dumfries and Galloway in 2014 we have been running a collection of highly creative projects.
The latest was a four-part cycle under the banner of A Play, A Poet and A Pastry. Hosted by the Dumfries Theatre Royal (Scotland’s oldest working theatre) these events consisted of a world-premier play, followed by a specially written poetic response and then an audience discussion over the pastry. The quality was superb. For example, the final play was a new work called The Bug in the Cup by award-winning Glasgow-based playwright Heloise Thual. The cast included Julia Taudevin who has been described as “exhilarating” and “dynamite” by The Guardian and dubbed “one of the most exciting forces in Scottish theatre” in The Scotsman.
The poetry came from Harry Giles who was recently praised as “the sharpest new tongue in Scotland” during a barnstorming tour of New Zealand. Bunbury Banter has also recently produced Davey Anderson’s Blackout to much acclaim, and worked on the National Theatre of Scotland’s Five-Minute Festival. At the same time we run a theatre school for young people and adults and also offer individual tuition.
None of this would be possible if Dumfries and Galloway, and Scotland more widely, did not value the performing arts. Indeed, it’s a region that loves the arts in all their forms – local anecdote claims there are more artists per head of population here than anywhere else in Scotland. And the fact that it’s home to a thriving annual arts festival, plus the region-wide Spring Fling open studios weekend and the internationally renowned Wigtown Book Festival gives an idea of the breadth and depth of artistic and cultural activity.
We are already in the midst of planning our next ventures, and while it’s too early to unveil the details, it will hopefully involve a highly original collaboration with a series of other creative organisations in the region. And for us, it’s the chance to work in an environment that’s so open to new ideas and possibilities that makes Dumfries and Galloway such a rewarding place to be.
With thanks to Ali Anderson-Dyer and everyone at Bunbury Banter Theatre Company.