Holton’s verses brought to life by young thespians

In 1993, the Borders Youth Theatre commissioned the Scots poet Harvey Holton to write a series of poems in traditional ballad style.

The aim was to introduce young people to traditional forms of writing and story-telling which they rarely encounter and when they do, often dismiss it as “not for them”.

To stage these poems certainly proved a demanding task, but the result was very satisfying for the young people and audiences alike.

Sadly, Harvey died last year, but his work is as vital as ever and with BYT’s Autumn 2011 Project – entitled Wastin Times – a new generation will be given the opportunity to explore the poems and bring their interpretations to them.

Although Harvey wrote in ballad style, the poems spoke of issues which young people understood: boredom, growing up, relationships, thrill-seeking. Almost 20 years on, and the relevance remains.

John Haswell, who directed the original production, returns to that role. He will be assisted by Oli Bisset, who was a young performer first time round.

John Nichol, a weel-kent face in these parts, will be on hand to help tackle the language of the ballads which will be unfamiliar to many.

Rehearsals began on Saturday and young people and staff have been spending long days this week preparing for a series of performances which begin at the Wynd Theatre in Melrose this Saturday and Sunday at 7.30pm.

It is one of the aims of BYT to promote the arts, particularly theatre, in the region and Wastin Times will also be performed to audiences at Smailholm Village Hall (Friday, October 21) and Peebles Burgh Hall (Sunday, October 23).

All shows start at 7.30pm.

Tickets (£7/£5) are available via www.redshedtickets.com or 08432 898 555 or on the door at the venues.