Arts Festival looking good for west

Robyn Stapleton
Robyn Stapleton

Comedy DJ Des Clarke, award-winning critically-acclaimed theatre, a national opera house and a world-premiere of a historically important song project are all heading out west in May as part of this year’s Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival.

Events begin in the west of the region on May 23 with a humorous but heart-breaking stage production of Normal/Madness by Kidder Theatre at Whithorn’s Swallow Theatre. Festival events then continue in Wigtownshire until the grand finale on May 31 with a spectacular theatrical performance by the hilarious Reduced Shakespeare Company who will condense the entire history of comedy to a mere 90 minutes in the Ryan Centre, Stranraer.

A rare collection of little-known Scottish songs will be sung back to life in a remarkable project specially commissioned by the Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival. Galloway songwriter Ali Burns, together with top traditional Scots musicians from the region – Emily Smith, Jamie McClennan, Robyn Stapleton, Aaron Jones, Claire Mann and Wendy Stewart – will perform Macmath: The Silent Page for the very first time in Stranraer on Tuesday, 26 May.

In between there is music from award-winning jazz vocalist Lorna Reid at Wigtown Primary School on May 23 and one of the hottest country acts in Europe, Raintown, take to the stage of Stranraer FC Social Club on May 29.

On May 28, Dogstar Theatre’s multi-award-winning play, The Tailor of Inverness, comes to Wigtown’s Country Buildings; Scottish Opera will be popping-up in Stranraer on 25 May when their theatre on wheels brings a trio of mini operas to the Ryan Centre; and, in Wigtown’s County Buildings on May 27, Mimika Theatre presents Landscapes - a theatre of remarkable visual effects and transformations set inside a beautiful calico dome.

And the comedy continues on May 30 with two of radio’s hottest celebrities: Des Clarke, who comes to the Ryan Centre on May 30 and Sunny Ormonde who plays “outrageous Lilian Bellamy” in Radio 4’s The Archers will be at the Swallow Theatre.

The festival will also cover film and literature events with one of the most revered comedies of the silent era, The General, which will be screened at the Ryan Centre on May 22; a newly devised spoken word literature live performance by, about and for women, The Buskers Divine Discontent, takes place at the Swallow Theatre on May 28 and an entertaining performance based on short stories by prize-winning authors Brindley Hallam Dennis and Marilyn Messenger takes place on May 26 at The Open Book on Wigtown’s High Street.

Full Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival takes place across the region between May 22 and 31. Programmes are available at retail outlets across the region and online from

Tickets from the Midsteeple box office, Dumfries, tel: 01387 253383.