OZ! - A Yellow Brick Road Adventure in Paisley

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22 Jun 2022

News Story

The National Theatre of Scotland, with partners OneRen and supported by Future Paisley, is taking up a year-long artistic residency and engagement project with the people of Paisley culminating in a bold, interactive promenade performance on the streets of Paisley in June 2023, in collaboration with leading Scottish artists Cora Bissett and Bex Anson.

Inspired by L. Frank Baum’s legendary American classic 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the talent and people of Paisley will be invited on a creative journey, which will culminate in a high octane, visually arresting carnivalesque performance weaving through indoor spaces and on the streets of Paisley in June 2023. Over 200 local participants, alongside professional actors and artists will be involved in the co-creation of this unique event.

Known and loved by all, the iconic musical fantasy, The Wizard of Oz, inspired by the novel has enduring power and relevance, with its universal themes of self-sufficiency, the quest for truth and the power of unusual friendships. OZ! - A Yellow Brick Road Adventure in Paisley will be inspired and created by the talent of Paisley. This spectacular new show will develop and showcase Paisley’s extraordinary talent with dance, theatre, music, puppetry and circus, all being showcased in the final event. Dorothy is a streetwise lassie from Paisley, and there will be twists and tricks aplenty in this new version of the story which will see Paisley transformed into a living stage set.

Over the next twelve months, Cora and Bex will lead a team of artists to deliver a significant community engagement programme working alongside local community groups in Paisley including Kibble, The STAR Project – Paisley Men’s Shed, PACE Theatre Company and Art Boss - YOProducers. From August 2022 there will be opportunities for the public and community groups to get involved including an exciting public programme of Oz! themed workshops and creative sessions which will animate the town over the year.

The first of the workshops and sessions have been announced including: a song writing workshop for theatre, suitable for all ages and abilities, with Emmy award-winning composing duo Roddy Hart and Tommy Reilly; “A Wee Dander down the Yellow Brick Road” drop-in blether sessions to chat life, dreams and red shoes at Café Su led by Cora Bissett and Bex Anson; monthly social events at the Emerald Lounge in The Art Department; Oz! Wallpaper making workshops to form part of the Emerald Lounge wallpaper, led by illustrator Jennie Bates and “Wooooof!!” Toto The Dog drama workshop for all 4-legged wannabes led by Bex Anson and Lewis Sherlock

Cora Bissett and Bex Anson co-creative lead artists said:

"We met as working mums madly trying to entertain our young kids in Queens Park during lockdown and decided to combine forces to take on this massive and exciting challenge of creating a new large-scale work with the people of Paisley. We are already bowled over by the amount of talent, ingenuity and passion of the people of Paisley and by the town’s rich history and quirky buildings. We are looking forward to bedding ourselves into Paisley over this next year and dreaming up a contemporary, fantastical reimagining of this timeless classic which everybody knows and loves."

Jackie Wylie, Artistic Director of National Theatre of Scotland said:

“The National Theatre of Scotland is at its best when its working alongside a like-minded partner on a project that celebrates and casts a spotlight on the brilliance of a particular place and its people.

As we embark on this wonderful adventure down the yellow brick road in Paisley, I want to acknowledge the vision of both One Ren and Future Paisley and our lead artists Cora Bissett and Bex Anson. We have between us the courage, the heart and the brains to bring together all of Paisley in this ambitious celebration of talent, storytelling and creativity, building up to OZ! an unmissable, spectacular event across the town in 2023”

Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes, Chair of OneRen and the Future Paisley partnership board, said:

This is a fantastic addition to Paisley’s annual events programme – and one that helps strengthen the area’s growing reputation as one of Scotland’s must-visit destinations for top-class cultural events What excites me most is that community engagement and participation is at the very heart of it. Oz! will provide opportunities for local freelance artists and organisations but also employment for local people, as well as the chance to learn from and be inspired the team of nationally-recognised artists and performers which National Theatre of Scotland have pulled together.”

Online Booking opens for all workshops from July 2.

In person booking for workshops at Sma’ Shot day on July 2.

Information on how to sign up can be found here, or send an email to oz@nationaltheatrescotland.com.