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New Lyth Arts Centre season offers slice of Lyth to Caithness cultural connoisseurs with Shooglenifty, Kafka adaptation from Vanishing Point and more lined up

By Kyle Walker

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Lyth Arts Centre have officially announced the start of their 2020 season with the launch of a new brochure that asks readers the question, “Are Ye Coming?”

More than 1200 booklets have been popped through Caithness letterboxes, as the county creative space unveils its list of programmes and events from February until July.

The first event of the 2020 season will be a one-off performance by Shooglenifty. Part of a series of special anniversary gigs to mark the band’s 30th birthday, the Lyth gig is the band’s first date on a UK wide tour. Shooglenifty is made up of seven musicians from across Scotland including Orkney’s Garry Finlayson on banjo, vocalist Kaela Rowan, and her husband James Mackintosh on drums.

With as eclectic a programme as ever, the season continues into March with a lineup of film, music, dance, theatre and family shows. Highlights include a special archive film event to mark International Women’s Day on Sunday, March 8 and a special space-themed show for children called Space Ape as part of Caithness International Science Festival.

Later in the month sees a visit from Irish choreographer Rob Heaslip Dance with his incredible new dance piece Endling which explores what it means to be the last of your kind using pop and folk culture.

Taking the programme into Spring will be another explosive music gig from four of Scotland’s finest fiddle players. With half the band coming from Shetland, RANT use their fiddles to weave a tapestry of melodies and celebrate the instrument they all have a passion for.

Hit Highland podcast Stories of Scotland will be bringing a live show to the Caithness hub. Radical Mountain Women examines how women in the Scottish Highlands have fought marginalisation in their relationship with the environment from land reform to hillwalking.

Classical music fans are in for a treat with the chance to see Scotland’s contemporary music ensemble Red Note at the end of the month. The Easter holidays sees activities for kids including Feast of Fools a new catastrophic culinary adventure for families.

The John O’Groats Book Festival returns Saturday and Sunday, April 25-26 with special guests including Freeland Barbour, Gerda Stevenson, Barbara Henderson and Ester Swift of Twelfth Day.

May sees more theatre and comedy including hilarious Shetland comic Marjolein Robertson who brings her Edinburgh Fringe hit show Da Shetland Spree to Lyth on Friday, May 22. Another Fringe hit, Black Isle’s Colin Bramwell performs his heart-warming and hilarious show Umbrella Man as part of a week-long residency at the arts centre.

Ventoux (featuring Lyth Arts Centre co-director Tom Barnes) is among the theatre pieces coming to the Caithness creative hub in the new season. Picture: Drew Forsyth
Ventoux (featuring Lyth Arts Centre co-director Tom Barnes) is among the theatre pieces coming to the Caithness creative hub in the new season. Picture: Drew Forsyth

Lyth Arts Centre co-director Tom Barnes will also be presenting his hit show Ventoux as part of his company 2 Magpies Theatre’s first Scotland wide tour.

Summer sees the return of theatre company Vanishing Point to Latheron Hall with a new retelling of The Metamorphosis. Their last performance at Latheron sold out so be sure to book.

As well as music from Gnoss, Mhairi Hall, Gillebrìde Macmillan and Hannah Rarity, there is also a special screening of the winner of the Audience Award at the Inverness Film Festival 2019. Down the Rabbit Hole tells the story of Inverness climber and photographer James Roddie and his journey with mental health and caving.

Lyth co-director Tom Barnes said “2020 is an exciting year for Lyth Arts Centre as we expand our programme, opening earlier in the year than ever before and growing the programme to include more for families, festivals, dance and comedy.

“2020 marks Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters and we’ve got lots happening to celebrate the Caithness coastline in the lead up to Northern Lights Festival in September, including events with Orca Watch and the UK Surf Championships.

“It’s definitely a year to celebrate the local and we’re proud to be partnering with village halls, artists and organisations from across the county and the wider Highlands. There really is something for everyone this season, so are ye coming!?”

Tickets for the season are available online now at www.lytharts.org.uk or over the phone by calling 01955 641 434 between 10am and 4pm.

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