Theatre on the beach at St Cyrus

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Edinburgh-based visual theatre company, Vision Mechanics, has a reputation for staging productions in unconventional spaces.

This summer, its new production, Drift, is taking place on some of Scotland’s most beautiful beaches, including from 23-26 July at St Cyrus National Nature Reserve (NNR).

The production is inspired by the true story of Shetland crofter, Betty Mouat, who in January 1886, aged 61, was the only passenger on the coastal cutter Columbine which left Grutness for Lerwick. Shortly after setting sail a storm washed the captain and crew overboard and Miss Mouat was presumed lost at sea.

More than a week later the Columbine grounded on Lepsoy in Norway. To everyone’s amazement, Miss Mouat had survived. She returned to Shetland to live in her croft for another 30 years, a folk hero celebrated in her local community.

Drift is an installation on the beach which audience members wander through on their own, guided by dialogue and a song cycle representing Betty’s nine days at sea.

Director, Symon Macintyre says: “The audience experience Drift wearing individual headphones.

“Like archaeologists, they walk through our installation, discovering images and objects which uncover the thoughts and feelings of Betty Mouat, abandoned and drifting alone in the boat.”

Theresa Alampo, St Cyrus Reserve Manager adds: “We’re really excited to welcome Drift to St Cyrus. It’s the perfect setting to learn about and experience the adventures of Betty Mouat, as she struggled to survive all the way from Scotland to Norway.”

The performance lasts 40 minutes, is open from 7am to 12 noon and from 2-9pm each day. No pre-booking is required and entry is by donation. The production is not suitable for young children. Drift has been made possible through the funding support of Creative Scotland.

It is a co-production with Nordland Visual Theatre, Stamsund.