Dr Gavin Wallace Fellowship (2018-19)
Ossian Awakening the Spirits on the Banks of the Lora with the Sound of his Harp by Gérard Francois.
"We are thrilled that Martin O’Connor has been appointed as the 2018 Dr Gavin Wallace Fellow, selected from one of the strongest shortlists for the fellowship we’ve seen since its inception. Throughout his career, Martin has created a number of works to critical acclaim and we look forward to seeing the development and creation of this new multi-voiced reinterpretation of McPherson’s mischievous work.” - Jenny Niven, Creative Scotland
Hosted by the Playwright's Studio, Scotland and in partnership with the Royal Lyceum Theatre.
The Dr Gavin Wallace Fellowship, supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland, provides a writer with time and support to develop their work in partnership with a host organisation. The Fellowship was established by Creative Scotland in 2013 in memory of Dr Wallace who committed his entire professional life to helping writers and literature organisations in Scotland.
Responding to this year’s theme, ‘Epic’, O’Connor will create a contemporary long-form performance poem written in Gaelic, Scots and English, inspired by the tales of the famous Ossian poems, the purported poet ‘discovered’ by James Macpherson in 1761. During the Fellowship, O’Connor will embark on participatory research across Scotland with groups of people from particular areas of linguistic interest and will explore themes such as journey, work, family and faith. The Fellowship will enable O’Connor to develop his practice of working with people’s own stories and voices, and his growing interest in Scots and Gaelic and how they are presented on stage. O’Connor aims to create a platform for minority voices and the sense of Scotland as a plural nation.
On receiving the Fellowship, Martin O’Connor said: “In choosing to use Macpherson's writing as inspiration I hope to address some of the main challenges and assumptions surrounding Gaelic and Scots languages and create a new body of work made up of both traditional epic poetry styles and contemporary voices. I’m looking forward to diving straight into my research. I’ve set myself some ambitious goals and aim to stretch my writing and my practice as far as I can, particularly in terms of translation.”
Fiona Sturgeon Shea, Creative Director at Playwrights' Studio, Scotland, said: “We were overwhelmed by the number and quality of the proposals we received for this year’s Fellowship, and by the exciting and varied interpretations of the Epic theme. Martin’s feels like a truly national project, focusing on the language, landscape and people of Scotland.
We are delighted to be working with a writer of Martin’s skill and inventiveness, who gives so much to the theatre community in Scotland through his work with participants and aspiring writers. We are looking forward to supporting Martin’s own creative ambitions in the development of this contemporary epic which is very much rooted in and reflective of the Scotland we live in today. As Martin describes it, constantly changing, complex and ambiguous.”