Day 10 - Tuesday 18th September

Castle Douglas & Newton Stewart

Castle Douglas library is 108 years old, the oldest one in the Dumfries and Galloway area. It’s small but extremely busy – probably the most bustling one we’ve been in. It was hard to carve out a performance space without overlapping with the counter, but luckily the members of the public who came in all appeared quite captivated by the goings-on. Palnackie Primary had prepared a beautiful backcloth for their performance of The Jolly Postman and had really gone to town on props and costumes. I especially liked the giant bottle of milk. The children were quite young and very sweet, especially when they sang a song at the end.

Crossmichael Primary did Come to Tea on Planted Zum Zee very enthusiastically, jumping about shaking their sparkling wigs, waving their antennae and juggling with pizzas. There were some nice sound effects such as a tambourine for the “musical biscuits”, and they’d painted a lovely picture of the universe on a sheet of cardboard.

They were followed by Twynholm Primary’s performance of The Bad-Tempered Ladybird - again with brilliant costumes (made by some industrious mums). The little girl playing the ladybird was really convincing with her repeated “Do you want a fight?” and “You’re too small anyway”. I wouldn’t have wanted to mess with her! The sound effects for this story were good too, with drums for the gorilla and a tambourine for the fireflies’ dance (though it was a shame they didn’t have more space to do this).

We did A Squash and a Squeeze and then The Wrong Kind of Bark with a brilliant girl called Molly acting the dreamy child who brings in all the wrong things for the nature table. The children all loved this one, especially when Malcolm came on as the puppy at the end. We finished up with “Splash and Squelch”, which is quite a good work-out.

In Newton Stewart library we had the luxury of an events room. Here, Penninghame School acted Beauty and the Beast, which was the most hi-tech performance yet because they had microphones and some special equipment which could reproduce sound effects they had previously created. This was done by children pressing four different pedals. They seemed to enjoy doing this, and it meant that everyone had something to do. They were followed by Leswalt Primary doing Elmer about the patchwork elephant. For me the highlight of this was the stunning-looking trees, played by P1s dressed in brown paper tubes (for the trunks) with gorgeous leafy head-dresses. There was some good use of instruments in this play, including maracas to indicate a bush being shaken. And a clever touch was Elmer’s reversible mask – patchwork on one side and grey on the other.We did Freddie and the Fairy again, and the Scots version of The Gruffalo, finishing up with the “Funny Face” song. Beth overheard one child say to another “Are you going to the library after school?” and the reply was, “Yes, and you’re coming with me.”

Michael and Beth (Scottish Book Trust):

In the morning it was a tight fit at Castle Douglas Library, but we managed to get them all in. And saw some lively performances. I particularly liked the Bad-Tempered Ladybird – the girl who was acting the part was fierce. I’m hearing reports of another gorilla sighting in Newton Stewart, everyone beware! Unfortunately, Dumfries and Galloway is a bit gentle for Beth’s current lifestyle tastes. Instead of moving there right now, she’ll retire there when she’s older; she has visions of long walks over gentle hills.