Volunteers to take plunge in Porty art project

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An unusual spectacle is coming to the seaside as part of this summer’s Fringe – and wannabe stage stars are being urged to get involved.

At sunrise and sunset, singers and swimmers will converge on Portobello beach for Out of Water, a live art and theatre project which will run for three days in August.

Locally recruited performers will treat the audience to theatrical stories with a haunting soundtrack. Picture: comp

Locally recruited performers will treat the audience to theatrical stories with a haunting soundtrack. Picture: comp

But rather than a cast being shipped in from elsewhere, 40 local residents are being sought to take part in the outdoor theatre experience.

Organisers of the event promise that the audience will be captivated by the theatrical stories which are told alongside a soundtrack of haunting music, lifeguard drills, calls for help and struggles for breath.

Featuring an original score from award-winning composer Jocelyn Pook – best known for the music in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut – and the live voice of soprano Laura Wright, the performance carries themes of family, memory, mortality and survival.

The interactive musical theatre project – which has already caused a stir at Norfolk’s Holkham Beach and San Francisco’s Fort Funston beach – was dreamt up by artists Caroline Wright and Helen Paris.

The audience will be handed headsets to listen to the score, before being led to the beach by the performers.

Successful recruits from the Portobello community will then perform in the piece as singers and swimmers.

Out of Water has been selected for this year’s Escalator East To Edinburgh, which helps artists and arts organisations to raise their profile and perform to new audiences as part of the Fringe. The event has also received support from the Arts Council England.

Portobello beach will be classed as a Summerhall venue during the performances, which will run on August 8, 9 and 10 at 6.30am and 8.30pm each day.

Community engagement officer Michael Sherin is co-ordinating applications from interested performers.

He said: “We’re hoping that we’ll get a good response to it. Some people who were at the Norfolk performance have said they will come up here to see it again.

“It’s something that has an impact. It resonates with people. Seeing a performance on the beach is just powerful.”

Anyone aged over 16 is welcome to get involved in the performance, and Mr Sherin said he hoped it would attract a wide range of ages.

“If we can get a good cross-section of the community it would be a good thing to achieve,” he said. “It would also attract a bigger audience.”

Gil Stead, a participant in the Norfolk performance, said she greatly enjoyed the experience.

She said: “The music and singing were superb, overlaid with thoughtful prose, expressed with such feeling at appropriate times.

“Such a well planned creative piece of work contributed to such a fascinating project. I thought it was really great to work with everyone in such a professional manner.”

• E-mail mikeysherin@hotmail.com or call 0131-261 8120 to get involved.