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World Premiere ARANDORA STAR Theatre Objektiv

By Raymond Raszkowski Ross
Directed by Donald Smith

A vibrant, evocative full-length drama about the controversial sinking of the SS Arandora Star on July 2nd 1940, in which some 700 ‘enemy aliens’, many of them Scottish-Italians, lost their lives while being transported to Canada by the British Government.

A strong ensemble cast enact a Dantesque passion of love, hope and determination.

We are in the midst of muddle, mishap and mess; of preconceptions and prejudice; of war-time exigencies and political misadventure; as well as of ‘cover up’ and suppression; but, equally and perhaps more importantly, Arandora Star is about empathy and understanding, innocence and ideals, shared laughter in the face of adversity, loyalty and common humanity.

The ship on which we sail symbolises the truth of all war: most victims are innocent civilian non-combatants.

“Collar the lot!” Churchill had ordered when Mussolini declared war on June 10th 1940; and collar them they did. The Italian community in Scotland (Britain) was wrong-footed by Il Duce and they would pay a heavy price.

The time is surely ripe for a multi-cultural Scotland to acknowledge its debt and to embrace fully the dedication on the Arandora Star Memorial in the grounds of St Andrew’s Cathedral Glasgow: Non vi scorderemo mai – Never will we forget you.

Scottish Storytelling Centre 43-45 High Street Edinburgh EH1 1SR
Tue 22 – Sat 26 May 2018 7.30pm & 2pm (Sat 26 only)
1hr 40 (with interval) £12 (£10) (£9.50 SCS) 14+
0131 556 9579

Arandora Star headlines Scots Italian Incontro, a special week of Scottish Italian events at the Storytelling Centre: talks, storytelling, poetry reading, dance workshops and exhibitions including a series of drawings by legendary Scottish painter Sandy Moffat illustrating Theatre Objektiv’s rehearsal process and live performances of the play.


Edinburgh-based Theatre Objektiv to stage a vibrant, evocative full-length drama about the controversial sinking of the SS Arandora Star, July 2nd 1940, in which some 700 “enemy aliens”, many of them Scottish-Italians, lost their lives while being forcibly transported to Canada by the British Government .

International significance and controversy
Arandora Star dramatises a subject of national and international significance, of historical and political importance and of contemporary cultural relevance; exploring our European inheritance at a time of great European – as well as National – debate.

The sinking of the SS Arandora Star remains controversial to this day and many government records have not yet been released although this tragic event traumatised the Italian community, the reverberations of which are still felt today

This ensemble production with eight actors will cast dramatic light on how and why this tragedy occurred involving the deaths of settled Italian immigrants (including well-known anti-Fascists); acknowledged anti-Nazis (Austrian and German) who had escaped to Britain; and Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler; all of whom were designated “enemy aliens” and who drowned alongside captured German merchant sailors (POWs), British soldiers and Navy personnel as the result of a German U-Boat torpedo fired at an overcrowded, ill-prepared, un-escorted and unmarked ship (the Arandora Star had been denied a ‘Red Cross’ by HM Government) off the coast of neutral Ireland .

Playwright Raymond Raszkowski Ross says “This is a significant story for Scottish theatre and Scottish audiences to embrace in terms of who we are and where we came from and in terms of what can happen when communities and/or diversity are challenged (over 4,000 Italian men from age 16 to 70 were interned without any trial or tribunal in 1940). Reflecting not only the contribution of the Italian community to Scottish life for over a century but also evoking the centrality of Italian culture to Scotland and to a European sensibility, a significant aim of Arandora Star is to share this sense of multi-cultural inheritance and community with audiences in Scotland to reflect different cultural perspectives at a time of shifting uncertainty.”

Director Donald Smith says: “The play, which is peppered with comedy, irony and satire as well as with moments of intimacy, love and close affection, is about an artistic integrity which is moral as well as aesthetic. By shining a little light on a murky subject, of importance not only to the Italian community in Scotland, but of relevance to us all, we intend it to be genuinely thought-provoking: was what happened to that ship a war crime? A crime against humanity? We leave such questions to resonate with the audience and we give no answers but many may also (still) wonder why the British Government has never yet apologised for its role in this tragedy.”

The ship on which we sail symbolises the truth of all war: most victims are innocent civilian non-combatants.
“Collar the lot!” Churchill had ordered when Mussolini declared war on June 10th 1940; and collar them they did. The Italian community in Scotland (Britain) was wrong-footed by Il Duce and they would pay a heavy price.

Arandora Star headlines Scots Italian Incontro, a special week of Scottish Italian events at the Storytelling Centre: talks, storytelling, poetry reading, dance workshops and exhibitions including a series of drawings by legendary Scottish painter Sandy Moffat illustrating Theatre Objektiv’s rehearsal process and live performances of the play.

Free (ticketed) talks include Professor Joseph Farrell: A Scottish Risorgimento; Cav. Mary Contini: Dear Olivia; Anne Pia: Crossing Identities and Transformed in Translation, a celebration of the comic and satirical sonnets of Giuseppe Belli in their original Romanesco and as owersett into Scots by Robert Garioch (with Giacomo Giuggioli and Raymond Ross).


Reverent, haunting and heartfelt production describes the show as a “reverent, haunting and heartfelt production of Arandora Star at the Scottish Storytelling Centre to Saturday… Andrea McKenzie convincingly demonstrates the physicality of a wide-eyed innocent, struggling to comprehend the shifting landscape and uncertainties of war. Maria perfectly encapsulates the struggle to define identity as a child of two worlds…

Standout Performances

The furthest ripple and the third setting for the narrative greets a now grown Maria played by the brilliant Catriona McFarlane valiantly facing an interrogation by the fearsome John McColl as the nameless Major. These are standout performances, as McFarlane and McColl’s scenes crackle with tension and bold characterisation… Overall, this is a production which tackles its message head-on, lending a greater scope to the murky side of British history whilst packing a stunning emotional punch sure to leave you thinking.”

“I urge everyone to consider experiencing a most remarkable piece of theatre from Theatre Objektiv. I felt privileged to attend the world premiere at the Scottish Storytelling Centre. The play is the most recent example of playwriting skills of Raymond Raszkowsky Ross. It is directed by Donald Smith with profound understanding of the text. The performance of each member of the cast is exemplary. I recommend this unique piece of theatre to every politician in Scotland. It presents a stark reminder of the perils of a wartime Europe when an immigrant community is treated unjustly resulting in loss of life among those who chose Scotland as their new homeland far from Italy. Arandora Star as an unforgettable piece of theatre benefits from an exhibition of drawings by Sandy Moffat made during the two-week period of rehearsals.”

“This is a very powerful production from a magnificent cast, with outstanding performances from Gavin Paul as Oreste and Catriona McFarlane as Maria. It witnesses to the men who lost their lives so pointlessly and lifts the veil of silence shrouding their fate. Many of the members of the audience last night were members of that Scottish-Italian community, and their applause was whole-hearted and prolonged at the end of the show.”
ScotsGay Arts


Enacting Hamish Henderson

An evocative and innovative drama shaped and sculpted from the poetry and songs of Hamish Henderson (1919-2002) taking us on a journey across Highland, Lowland and industrial landscapes, through childhood trauma, spiritual growth and exploration into the exhilarating, cacophonous and deeply morally challenging theatres of war in the Desert Campaign, the Invasion and Liberation of Sicily and Italy; and the consequent struggles for a new self-knowledge and cultural alignment in a battleground of conflicting experiences, emotions and ideas in post-war and present-day Scotland and Europe.

A uniquely structured, experimental, dramatic evocation of the man and his ideas through poetry and songs without narrative intervention; a radical fusion employing a lyrical and percussive soundscape, movement and visual image, choral and individual voices, for the first time presenting a holistic and seamless view of the poet and songwriter in a new and challenging dramatic whole.

A fully embodied, full-blooded enactment of the ‘Radical Road’ which Henderson dedicated his life to, offering us a fresh and vital perspective on who we are, where we came from and how we might move forward by embracing Henderson’s vision of a people’s culture: a new democratic art for here and now.

Scripted and directed by Raymond Raszkowski Ross

Musical director Alastair McDonald

Starring Isabella Jarrett, Alastair McDonald, Gavin Paul, Vanda De Luca

27 April - 1 May - 7.30pm (50 mins) – £12 (£10) Anatomy Theatre, SUMMERHALL - Edinburgh

Booking: - 0131 560 1581 - 0131 556 9579


A celebration of Morris Blythman


Scottish Storytelling Centre (Netherbow Theatre), Edinburgh
Friday May 5th 2017 at 8.30pm

Sellout show from the Carrying Stream Festival 2016 – back by popular demand
A Rebel Ceilidh Come All Ye in association with Theatre Objektiv celebrating the songs and poetry of Morris Blythman (Thurso Berwick) the “Magic Marxist” of the Scottish Folk Revival.

Starring Alastair McDonald
with Isabella Jarrett and Raymond Raszkowski Ross
Scripted by Raymond Raszkowski Ross

Songs Republican and Radical, Nationalist and Internationalist. The inspiration of a generation and more of singers and songwriters. Today’s YES generation of cultural and political activists owe an immense debt to pioneers like Morris Blythman (1919-1981) who powered the Folk Revival in the dark days of post-WW2 Scotland carrying with them the spirit of the pre-war Scottish Literary Renaissance.

Inspired by figures like John MacLean and James Connolly, Morris pursued the “perfervid spirit” of the Scots in his songs, poems and agitation. He initiated the idea of “demonstration singing” in Scotland in 1951 with his “Sangs o’ the Stane” (in support of the liberation of the Stone of Destiny from Westminster Abbey) while spearheading the Ding Dong Dollar anti-Polaris Balladeers of the 1960s – “the first real singing campaign ever undertaken in Scotland” – and scrieving sangs for SNP campaigns (including Winnie Ewing's famous by-election victory in Hamilton 1967). Along the radical road he also wrote some of the wittiest anti-Royalist songs ever penned.

An evening to celebrate “The Scottish Breakaway”, “Lucky Wee Prince Chairlie”, “Sky High Joe”, “The Eskimo Republic” and “Perfervidum Ingenium Scotorum” courtesy of “The Glesca Eskimos”.

Tickets: £10.00 (£8.00)
Box Office: 0131 556 9579
Scottish Storytelling Centre 43-45 High Street Edinburgh
Running time: approx 50 minutes
Acknowledgements: Thanks are due to Marion Blythman; to Donald Smith, Daniel Abercrombie, Maria McDonald, Lindsay Corr and all the staff at the Scottish Storytelling Centre; and to Debbie Bayne.



May 15th and 16th 7.30pm each evening
238-246 King Street, Hammersmith, London W6 0RA
Tickets £10 from the Box Office (open 6-8pm)
Tel 020 8741 0398/1887


Following his visit to Warsaw in early April (his second in six months) the irrepressible Wojtek the Bear will stride out across Scotland from Stranraer to Findhorn, from Coldingham to Dunkeld, and many places in between.

Wojtek’s Scottish sojourn begins at the Scottish Storytelling Centre (Netherbow Theatre), Edinburgh, where he will strut his stuff from Thursday April 24th to Saturday April 26th 7.30pm (including Saturday matinee 3pm on 26th). Total theatre with live music composed and performed by Sue Muir. (Recommended age 12+)

APRIL 2014

24th/25th/26th SCOTTISH STORYTELLING CENTRE, EDINBURGH 7.30pm, 0131 556 9579


29th NEWLANDS CENTRE, ROMANNO BRIDGE 7.00pm, 01968 660980

MAY 2014


3rd THE BRUNTON, MUSSELBURGH 7.30pm, 0131 665 2240


6th EASTGATE THEATRE & ARTS CENTRE, PEEBLES 7.30pm, 01721 725777

7th BEACON ARTS CENTRE, GREENOCK 7.30pm, 01475 723723

8th RYAN CENTRE THEATRE,STRANRAER 7.30pm, 01776 703535


10th UNIVERSAL HALL, FINDHORN 7.30pm, 01309 691170


13th BIRNAM ARTS CENTRE, DUNKELD 8.00pm, 01350 727674

18th CARNEGIE HALL, DUNFERMLINE 7.30pm, 01383 602302

Further information:
Jose Tarnowski, Administrator,, 07905 873311
Raymond Raszkowski Ross, Artistic Director


Theatre Objektiv’s award-winning production of Wojtek the Bear is to play the Palace of Culture in Warsaw this April at the invitation of the city’s English Theater Company (ETC).

Following a successful six night run at Theater IMCA in Warsaw last November, ETC’s Artistic Director, Edward Dargiewicz, has now invited Theatre Objektiv to give eight performances at this prestigious Warsaw venue.

“The play meets ETC’s criteria of superior artistic, literary and linguistic value. As a captivating lesson in history performed by a cast of talented Scottish actors, it received an incredibly positive audience response last November and that is why we have invited the company back – this time to perform at the Palace of Culture” says Mr Dargiewicz.

Raymond Raszkowski Ross, Artistic Director of Theatre Objektiv and the author of the play, comments: “Our November audiences were deeply appreciative and both surprised and delighted with a Scottish show which saw the world through Polish eyes, particularly the Polish experience of World War II. We received, for example, three curtain calls on our opening night and a standing ovation on the last night.

“We feel both honoured and excited that soldier bear Wojtek, the legendary hero of Monte Cassino and symbol of a Free Poland who ended his days in Edinburgh Zoo, should now tread the boards in the Palace of Culture where we hope, once again, Polish audiences will take him to their hearts.”

Following the Warsaw visit, where Objektiv will play eight performances in four days (April 7th – 10th), Wojtek the Bear will open its Scottish tour (supported by Creative Scotland) with four performances at the Scottish Storytelling Centre (Netherbow Theatre) April 24th – 26th including Saturday matinee. The show will also play two nights in London supported by the Polish Consulate in Scotland and the Polish Ex-Combatants Association (SPK).

The tour is being promoted to coincide with the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Monte Cassino (in which the heroic Wojtek, as you know, played his part) and with the unveiling of his statue in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh in May 2014.

Dr Raymond Raszkowski Ross, the Artistic Director of Theatre Objektiv, who wrote Wojtek the Bear, is pictured here with Professor Richard Demarco (Patron of Theatre Objektiv) and the Polish Consul General Dr Tomasz Trafas on the occasion of his being awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit by the President of the Republic of Poland for his creative work “in deepening Scottish-Polish links over many years.”
Edinburgh City Chambers August 19th 2013.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Reviews of Wojtek the Bear
Venue information and tickets for Wojtek the Bear are available from the
Universal Arts Festival website

Production pictures: Scottie Anderson

The extraordinary story of Wojtek, the loveable Polish soldier bear, who fought at Monte Cassino.
The story of how a man came to mother a bear, of how they went to war together and how they were to survive in post-war Britain.
An emotive journey from the Soviet Gulag and Persia to the Middle East, Italy and Scotland.
A story of love and loyalty, war and peace, heroism and hope.
Written by Raymond Raszkowski Ross. Directed by Corinne Harris.
Total theatre with live music.
An ensemble production from Theatre Objektiv.
(This is not children's theatre but may be suitable for ages 12 +)

AUDIENCE REVIEWS June production 2012

One of the most riveting theatre productions I have ever had the privilege to watch. Absolutely brilliant. The three members of cast were stunning. A profoundly moving play.
Joyce Gunn Cairns

I was at the Saturday night performance - absolutely superb! Congratulations to everyone involved in the production. A real emotional roller-coaster - I was dashing away tears during the second half... Magnificent! Incredibly powerful and intensely moving. Good luck for the Fringe!
Olga Wojtas

This play should be compulsory viewing! After a few years of being out of sorts with theatre in general I am delighted to be firmly back in love with it. STUNNING performances, sublime music and fully deserving of the standing ovation given this afternoon in The Netherbow. Looking forward to seeing this again during the Fringe with visiting friends & family. Congratulations and thank you.
Claire Druett

What an extraordinary evening! Congratulations to all involved! Great masters behind the scenes and on stage cooked up an intense and moving piece of theatre. You must all be very proud! James Sutherland was an entirely believable bear. I'll need to come and see it again in the Festival
Jan Anderson

I must email to say how very much I enjoyed Saturday night’s play. It was a very special production. It was totally gripping, and a fantastic mix of poignancy, sadness and also brilliant shafts of humour. And it tells such an important (and overlooked) bit of European history that needs to be understood and “out there”. Thank you so much for telling the story of the Poles in the war and in the UK – it means a great deal to me and those like me who had perhaps only a hazy perception of this important bit of their history. Many congratulations to all involved in the play on such an unqualified success!
Jose Tarnowski

I had to e-mail to say how wonderful this play is. I saw it on Saturday at the Scottish Storytelling centre and thought it was moving, enthralling and excellently acted by the two main actors. I only came because it was a true story about a bear who ended up in Edinburgh Zoo but discovered there was so much more to the story - the history, the passion, the bond between man and beast was all there - congratulations on this production!
Mairi Caldwell

I'm emailing to say how much I loved Wojtek - he's stayed with me all weekend, and I will definitely be telling everyone to go and see him in the Fringe. It's a great piece of storytelling - about the bear, about the love story of him and his mother and about Poland's war. I really liked the intimacy of the set and lighting, and the simplicity of the costumes. I loved the violin. I thought James Sutherland's performance was truly extraordinary. Brilliant.
Debbie Bayne

I thought the play was a tour de force requiring – & getting – total concentration. I don’t know how they did it, those two actors. It was very ‘dense’ if you know what I mean – packed with meaning & history & allusions & feeling. A great success - & all with nothing, except a circle on the floor. Brilliant.
Lady Brigid McEwen

It was an amazing play – only reference I didn’t get was the massacre but that’s just my history! It was breath-taking and I’d love to come watch it again.
Colette Ward (15)

Wojtek must be the most moving play I have ever seen. Amazing. Thank you all so much.
Louise Sanders

Bravo!!! Outstanding! Very, very moving performances from both actors and the violinist was just excellent!
Jacqueline Beer

I just wanted to say (again) thank you for this afternoon. I think that for me the most incredible effect was that I felt I had been on a long journey. I have been left with images; and images stay for such a long time in the memory.
Judith Stevenson

I'm looking forward to seeing your show again in the Fringe!
Michael Shand

I just wanted to drop a quick email to say how much I enjoyed the play last night. I'm still thinking about the story today. I think my favourite part was where the bear said that being under the water cannon was like being inside a rainbow. I'll never be able to look at the bear pit in the zoo again. The actors were bloody spectacular!
Claire Connachan

I'm sure you know, from the reaction of the audience, that the play is great. We loved it. It was really moving and funny, too. When the bear had to go to the Zoo it was heartbreaking. The actors were outstanding, but you can only live a part with a good script. The concept of giving the bear a voice really worked; with that actor it was totally convincing. It is a wonderful story, and I'm sure this is not the last we have heard of Wojtek now that you have brought him alive to us.
Sue MacDonald

This play was wonderful and I loved it from start to finish. It broke my heart in several places for several reasons. The stage was set with a circular piece of wooden flooring and nothing else and yet on this small turntable of wood, around and on which the Bear and the Man danced, walked, talked, cried, laughed, ran and wrestled. We the audience were so convincingly guided around the war-torn world with them both to share the agonies of the heart that tore through the Polish nation as a whole not only during the war but the aftermath too. The futilities of war and the constant heart-rending ache that comes with the intense suffering of separation from loved ones and the mother country came across for me. The whole reality of abandonment and human suffering was brought to the fore in such high definition throughout. I thought it was brilliant how the two actors threw such energy into everything they said and did. It was a very physical performance, exhaustingly tiring and demanding for both actors and yet never did we see two men pretending; all we ever saw was a Man and a Bear. The Bear’s tears as he howled his pain to the audience was pure agony and it certainly ripped into me. I defy anyone not to be moved to tears by this play and it has stayed with me ever since. …but Thank God we got to see Woytek and Mama eventually understand the other’s reasons and fears and both forgive one another – or else I might have had to kill myself in the Ladies Loo at the end.
Lady Charlotte Wemyss

A fabulous opening night! Congratulations to everyone involved!
Marcus MacLeod

Thoroughly enjoyed Wojtek last night. The actors were excellent. They performed with a rare tenderness. A cracker - deserves to do well at the Fringe.
Georgi Gill

Thank you for remembering Wojtek & Polish soldiers. Also, for commemorating the difficult & often tragic choices both nations and individuals had to make during the WW2 and afterwards. The performance was really moving.
Sylina Kivo Zaloinska-MacIntyre

Wojtek was just amazing. Think I'll go and see it again in the Festival.
David Waite

Poised, startling and heroic, Wojtek the Bear is a formidable accomplishment. This true story about a bear who fought in the war and died in Edinburgh zoo is menacing, haunting and romantic. Wojtek will steal your breath, creep into your heart and stay there. A fiercely powerful play.
Joanne Ross

I think Wotjek is an honest and beautifully written play that touched me. I truly felt Piotr’s life as a soldier and father who'd lost everything he loved and wondered how he could go on through the brutally disturbing events of that war. Then he found love and hope again with Wotjek, his dear bear. Their experiences together were shocking, funny and profoundly loving. The writing captured it so well, I felt I was there with them. I laughed out loud and felt choked with emotion. Well done to everyone.
Susie O’Donnell

Firstly - a tremendous piece of theatre. The performances were astonishing, especially James Sutherland. I was very taken with the physical aspect of the piece. The connection between the two actors was very powerful. There is an intimacy between two characters that was deeply symbolic. This is also testament to the writing and the power of both actors to bring this intimacy to life. That it was between two men made it all the more so. The writing was similarly powerful. The ability to bring this story to the stage is a tremendous piece of work. Having known this story since my childhood, all of it resonated with me. My immediate reaction at the end of the play was one of betrayal - for a country and a people. This quickly shifted into the wonder of the human spirit and survival against the odds. If anything the story of the Poles and their arrival in the UK is the impossible feat - they by rights should have all been dead. That fate intervened and they endured imaginable horrors to survive is an enduring theme. I also had another reaction to betrayal - that between Piotr and Wojtek. This neatly encapsulated the wider themes of the abandonment of Poland through the ages but especially at Yalta. I am still reflecting on this - are we ultimately all faced with betrayal - to our ideals, our values, to our country? Is it the lot of the emigre to cling to what was? I was also taken by the religious symbolism in the piece. The reference to pieces of silver and the numbering of the bones connects to the Passion story. I feel that this is a very Catholic piece of writing - it presents many moral and physical challenges. Much of this was overcome by faith (not necessarily faith in God) and in the Wojtek play faith between the bear and the man. In the end there was forgiveness and redemption for past sins. The other theme that struck me is that of the immigrant in Scotland. The scene where the Scots are abusing the Poles was very meaningful for me. I have experienced anti- Catholic abuse during my life (though this has declined dramatically over the last 10-15 years). I still feel today the efforts the Poles made to assimilate into the community. The anglified name change, for some abandonment of their faith. The reference to the historical experience of the post war immigrant still speaks to Scotland today.
Dominic Ward

A very professional production with brilliant acting and singing – Congratulations to the playwright. The violinist was superb and integrated well. I hope it will be repeated again.

A new play by Raymond Raszkowski Ross for Theatre Objektiv - premiered at Edinburgh International Festival Fringe 2009 - about a quiet but dedicated woman, who unintentionally became one of the 20th century’s greatest Scots - Jane Haining, sometimes referred to as ‘the Scottish Schindler’ because of her achievement in saving dozens of Hungarian Jewish children from the gas chambers.

As the play opens Rivka Feldman, a Holocaust survivor and Jane’s friend, is under interrogation by a British Captain. She has entered Scotland illegally, armed with a gun.....

Rivka’s fictional story takes us back to Budapest and to Auschwitz where Jane paid the ultimate price for protecting children. Not without irony or humour, this is a play about hope and reconciliation which raises many issues of relevance today in a challenging way through a controversial story.

Shortlisted for Amnesty International Theatre Award, Fringe 2009
(Not suitable for children under 12)

A PROMISED LAND on tour Autumn 2010
Thursday 16th September - matinee performance for schools and evening performance at Paisley Arts Centre
Friday 17th September - evening performance at East Kilbride Arts Centre
Saturday 18th September - evening performance at The Wynd, Melrose
Wednesday 22nd September - evening performance at macrobert, Stirling
Saturday 25th September - evening performance at Universal Hall, Findhorn
Wednesday 29th September - evening performance at The Byre Theatre, St Andrews
Friday 1st October - evening performance at The Swallow Theatre, Whithorn
Saturday 2nd October - evening performance at The CatStrand, New Galloway
Tuesday 5th October – 7.30pm at Queen’s Park Church, Glasgow
Wedesday 6th & Thursday 7th October - evening performances at Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh
Saturday 9th October - evening performance - Woodend Barn Arts Centre, Banchory
Wednesday 13th October – 7.30pm at Ayr Town Hall
Monday 18th October – 7.30pm Maccabi Centre, Giffnock


As I've noted before, tales of the Holocaust are generally two a penny at the Fringe, usually decrying the horrors of the death camps and the persecution of the Jews to show us the struggle of humanity in the face of unspeakable evils. Turning away from any such standard fare Theatre Objektiv have opted for a more interesting angle to great effect.
Set in 1947, A Promised Land tells the story of Rivka Feldman, a Jewish Pole who has arrived in Edinburgh after illegally stowing away on a ship, carrying a gun. She is interrogated by a British Captain, tasked with finding out who this woman is and what relation she may or may not bear to Jewish dissidents in Israel and the UK.
At the same time we are told the story of a Scottish Missionary, Jane Haining, immured in Auschwitz after protecting Jewish children in Budapest. The actors, Corinne Harris and John McColl, seamlessly alternate between the parts and locations, with Harris effortlessly portraying the dual parts of Haining and Feldman as very different individuals tied with a shimmer of hopeful humanity in the face of shared horror, Feldman representing the stoic aftermath and Haining a more hopeful yet fragile naivety. McColl equally impresses with the far less sympathetic but more constructively layered character of the Scottish Captain, whose murky past points at prejudices and conflicts within himself that he strugges to control.
It's a surprisingly measured performance in which there are no clear rights and wrongs, instead we are given a powerfully beautiful and very real story of courage and survival and the world's inability to fully comprehend the full measure of the damage caused on an entire generation's psyche.
Graeme Strachan - The British Theatre Guide

"This is an exemplary piece of Fringe theatre, which demonstrates how brilliant dramatic art can be, created with a sparse set, few props and just two outstanding actors.
The latter move fluidly through time and space: beginning as a Jewish refugee and a tormented British officer, they move backwards to become a Nazi interrogator and a Scottish missionary arrested in Budapest.
Particularly notable is the scene they play out at Auschwitz, which is quite the tear-jearker.
Such emotionally demanding roles might easily have descended into cheap melodrama, but a tightly constructed, perceptively-written and well-balanced script ensures that this is not the case.
Politically engaged from the outset, though this hard-hitting human drama ends abruptly, it is, nonetheless, well worth seeing."
Rahim Rahemtulla - Three Weeks

"It's not often that a play has the almighty power to make an audience cry. A passionate round of applause is something a rarity and even then it is not usually followed through by all members of the audience. It was, therefore, deeply moving to witness the effect that A Promised Land had on its audience....
The performances by the two leads are extraordinary. Overwhelmingly passionate at times, clearly believing in what they are doing, which is a wonderful thing to behold. A lot of what I have seen on the Fringe this year have come across more as a job, but this was something that the two actors believed in. Their souls were firmly in it and burnt like fire in their eyes.
The play is intelligent, funny and heartfelt.........A Promised Land is storytelling at its very best. A powerful experience."

Alex Eades - Edinburgh Guide

"Thought provoking......much originality and skilful performances from Corinne Harris as two very different women.....moments of joy and understanding amid the horror and mistrust."
Laura Ennor - The List

"VERY few Scots met their end in the death camps of the Holocaust but one of them was teacher and missionary Jane Haining, who was transported to Auschwitz in the early years of the Second World War after refusing to abandon her post as the supervisor of a Budapest orphanage for destitute Jewish children.
Raymond Raszkowski Ross’s new play seeks to remember Jane’s life through her relationship with a fictional character, Rivka Feldman, whom she meets in Auschwitz. In the play, Rivka has arrived in postwar Scotland to make a promised pilgrimage to Jane’s home, but finds herself arrested and interrogated as a Jewish terrorist because she is carrying a gun.
The play therefore moves backwards and forwards between Rivka’s interrogation in Scotland, Jane’s interrogation in Hungary, and a scene in Auschwitz between Jane and Rivka’s brother, with Corinne Harris making a beautiful job of playing both women, and John McColl as all the men.
........a strong, moving and enjoyable piece of drama, performed with great commitment, and directed with sober intelligence and feeling by the Storytelling Centre’s boss, Donald Smith."

The Scotsman


Walking with Shadows
by Josef Tarnowski and Raymond Raszkowski Ross

Walking with Shadows is a book of exile and odyssey: the incredible and moving story of Josef Tarnowski, a young Polish freedom-fighter who survived the frozen hell of the war-time Soviet Gulag and travelled half-way round the globe to join the Free Polish Forces in Scotland. He became a paratrooper and fought through the bloody slaughter of Arnhem, then a soldier-policeman among the ruins of the Third Reich, a ‘displaced person’ struggling to build a new life in post-war Britain and a successful electronics engineer whose pioneering work took him round the world again, and back to Poland, in very different circumstances.
   This is the story of an idyllic childhood, of family and friends lost and found, of war and peace, love and hope, tragedy and renewal. One man’s story, it is also the story of the old Europe, which passed with the Soviet Empire, and the new Europe, heralded by the rise of Solidarnosc. The story of a family man, a man of wit, insight, irony and humour, Walking with Shadows is a celebration of the will to survive and to keep creating afresh, an inspiring tribute to the human spirit.
Walking with Shadows is available online from

Hamish Henderson Collected Poems and Songs

Edited with an introduction by Raymond Ross
Hamish Henderson is one of the most interesting, not to say outstanding, voices of 20th century Scotland. His poetry, by its very nature, evokes much that is vital to Scottish and European History, society and culture.
   These are poems of lyrical intensity and gentle humour, of subtle irony and satirical intent, of profound humanity and, on occasion, of cold steel. Henderson writes, with fire in his belly and love in his heart, of war and peace, of the Highland, urban and desert landscapes, of the footslogging swaddie and the resistance hero, of childhood memories and erotic encounters, of pain, love, regret and death. And of hope.
   But perhaps the underlying and unifying concern is faith: faith in ordinary humanity to pull through whatever the odds. Of the many outstanding poets 20th century Scotland has produced it is perhaps Henderson, above all the others, who gives voice to that ordinary humanity in its quest for survival and for better days.
Hamish Henderson's Collected Poems & Songs (Curly Snake Publishing, 2000, paperback, £9.99) is now being distributed by Glen Murray Publishing. Copies can be bought online at