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IS THIS A DAGGER? THE STORY OF MACBETH

Based on the play by William Shakespeare
Created and Performed by Andy Cannon

Produced by Red Bridge Arts

From Edinburgh, Scotland

About the Company
Resources

“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes..." Andy Cannon, one of Scotland’s best-loved performers, takes audiences on a thousand-year journey that draws on Andy’s love of “the Scottish play” and history, going from fact to fiction and back again in this one-man, one-hour telling of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy.

 

A tale of foul and fortune, murder and deceit, this is a darkly wonderful story of one man and his pursuit of power. With a compact set and original music, Andy weaves Shakespeare’s language with his own inimitable style and humor, creating a performance where teachers and parents are as captivated and intrigued as the young people sitting next to them.

IS THIS A DAGGER? was first created by Andy Cannon in 2007 and has since toured the world. In 2017, its 10th year anniversary, the production was selected for the Made in Scotland showcase and played in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to a great response by audiences, critics and programmers. It was jury-selected for a full showcase performance at IPAY 2019 and was the first Runner Up for the Victor Award. The 2020-2021 season will be the first national tour in the US.

The production explores the paths between fact and fiction, myths and truths, and after the performance, Andy offers an optional brief historical fact-check and Q&A session. IS THIS A DAGGER? THE STORY OF MACBETH is a perfect introduction for newcomers to this wicked tale, and a fresh take on it for Shakespeare aficionados.​

Best for: Grades 4th-High School
(Family Audiences Ages 8+ years)

Audience Size: Small & Medium Venues

Up to 500 seats, depending on venue layout.

Please contact us to watch a full length archival recording.

 

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Company Background

Andy Cannon is the writer, director and performer of IS THIS A DAGGER? THE STORY OF MACBETH.

During his early career Andy worked with Theatre Workshop, initially on a youth opportunity scheme and later as a drama worker.  It was during this time at Theatre Workshop that he first started to explore incorporating direct first-person storytelling into his work.  In 1996 he left Theatre Workshop to set up Wee Stories Theatre for Children.  During his time as Artistic Director of the company he was the lead or co-artist of Wee Stories many acclaimed productions – including amongst others the award-winning productions of Labyrinth and Arthur (the later produced in partnership with the Scottish Touring Consortium).

 

Since leaving Wee Stories in 2012 he has been creating and performing his own work which has included the Expo commissioned Scota-land for the 2012 Imaginate Festival and the London 2012 festival and Tales of a grandson produced in partnership with Macrobert and the Scottish International Storytelling Festival in 2014 and with Red Bridge Arts in 2016.  In 2014 he was Creative Director Performance of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony. In 2016, alongside Andy Manley and Shona Reppe, he co-created and performed in Black Beauty, a co-production with Red Bridge Arts and Traverse Theatre Company. Black Beauty won the CATS Awards (2017) for Best Production for Children and Young People and Best Design. In 2018 he created and performed Space Ape as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival programme. Space Ape won the CATS Award (2018) for Best Production for Children and Young People.

 

About Red Bridge Arts:

Red Bridge Arts is an award-winning, ideas-led organisation that produces high quality arts projects and events for communities with a particular focus on performance projects for young and intergenerational audiences.

 

Red Bridge Arts was created in July 2015 by Alice McGrath, in response to the demand for high quality, artist focused producing support in the theatre and dance sectors in Scotland. Since its establishment Red Bridge Arts has worked with some of Scotland’s most exciting and experienced artists to develop, create and present performances for audiences of all ages.  In its short existence the company has worked with more than 30 artists to develop, create and tour  new work in Scotland, UK and internationally.    Recent performances have included: Stick by Me by Andy Manley; Space Ape by Andy Cannon; Night Light by Andy Manley in a co-production with Teater Refleksion (Denmark), commissioned by the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival; Black Beauty, in a co-production with Traverse Theatre, winner of Best Production for Children and Young People and Best Design; Is this a Dagger? and Tales of a Grandson by Andy Cannon; Mikey and Addie by Andy Manley and Rob Evans; Anatomy of the Piano (for beginners) by Will Pickvance; Leaf by Niggle by Puppet State Theatre Company; Titus (English version) by Oliver Emanuel.

For more information, please visit the company's website.

MADE IN SCOTLAND is a curated showcase of high quality performance from Scotland at the world’s biggest arts festival, made possible by support from the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund. It is a partnership between the Festival Fringe Society, the Federation of Scottish Theatre (FST) Scottish Music Centre and Creative Scotland. www.madeinscotlandshowcase.com

 

Artistic Team

Writer, Director, Performer: Andy Cannon
Co-writer: William Shakespeare
Composers and sound designers: Dave Trouton & Wendy Weatherby

Outside eye: Shona Reppe
Lighting design: Simon Hayes
Producer: Red Bridge Arts

Critical Acclaim

“It is an inventive and clever show, providing plenty of entertainment as Cannon slips between one carefully and clearly delineated character and another. But Cannon’s triumph comes when he turns the fiction round, so as to expose the historical truth of Macbeth’s life, and then provide a new perspective on Shakespeare’s play...” ★★★★★

—The Stage

“Andy Cannon is a man with storytelling in his blood; a performer who can take the trickiest, most complicated of narratives and deliver it to a young audience as if it were a simple nursery rhyme.... “★★★★

—The Scotsman

“Utterly utterly brilliant. Andy Cannon is engaging throughout, is insanely knowledgeable about Macbeth (both Shakespeare's version and the factual version), and managed to enthrall both a 9 year old girl and a 14 year old boy.. If only every English Lit teacher taught Shakespeare like this I think a lot more of our young people would be interested in our nation's literary history. Five stars!”  

—Sara, Audience member

“Do yourself a favour and go and see this brilliant version of Macbeth. I went with two children 10 and 12 and an 83 year old grandpa and we were utterly transfixed by the wit, charm and clever telling of this great play. What a joy to watch storytelling like this - thank you.”

—Laura, Audience member

“ Andy Canon has been a performer I have long admired since I first caught his work several years ago at the Imaginate Festival. Whilst always engaging and incredibly entertaining my one hesitation as an international programmer was how the delightful and very personal Scottish references would sit in my own context outside of Scotland. ‘Is this a dagger?’ is the answer! Not only does Andy make Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ a thrilling ride for children 8+ but the Scottish references and perspective of a Scot telling this thrilling tale makes absolute sense. In fact, dare I say it – it’s perfect. Blending the very best of storytelling techniques with a simple but effective lighting design and one of the cleverest crowns you will see this production is a showcase for Andy’s talents – warmth, humour and a delight in the spooky. I encourage international programmers who have seen Andy’s performances before and loved them but wondered if it would resonate in their own cultural context to find a way to see the show soon. One man, a bucket of props and a huge propensity to engage young and old – what’s not to like.”  

—Noel Jordan Festival Director, Edinburgh International Children’s Festival (formerly Imaginate)

“Andy Cannon connects with his audience from the moment he sets foot on the stage with his brilliant portrayal of Macbeth. Through storytelling, humour and theatricalization the audience is transported into the world of MacBeth. A must see performance!”  

—Katharine Carol, Artistic & Executive Director, Vancouver International Children's Festival

“Is this a Dagger does that seemingly impossible thing of making MacBeth not only accessible but thrilling for young people without for a second dumbing down or losing the adults in the audience. It’s pitched perfectly for, well, anyone really. Andy Cannon is a master and this could be his best show.”  

—Tony Reekie, Programmer and Programme Advisor

“The very special thing about Andy’s show is that for someone like me, where English is not my first language, even though there are language barriers, I am still very very engaged in his show.”

—Forrina Chen, Founder and Artistic Director of the A.S.K

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Gallery of Past Productions

 

2019/2020 Dates

See Performances of IS THIS A DAGGER?


October 21-26, 2019- Take Off Festival, England
Week of November 11, 2019 (specific dates to be announced) - India - Think Arts Festival and Mombai Book Festival
Week of November 25, 2019 - ATTA Festival, Instanbul - dates to be announced
February 2-7, 2020- Italian tour - dates to be announced

 

Curriculum Connections

  • English - Oral traditions, Humanities, Literature, Composition, Shakespeare

  • Language Arts - Role playing, Problem solving, Imagination, Storytelling

  • Fine Arts - Theatre, Music, Production design

  • History - Scottish and British history

  • Emotional and Social Development - Ethical behavior, Integrity, Loyalty, Leadership, Responsible decision-making, Social awareness, Self-management

 
 

Minimum Technical Requirements

  • Load In Time: 4 hours with pre-rig

  • Crew Needs: 1 venue crew member needed for load in/out

  • Min. Stage Size: 23 ft width x 13 ft depth x 11.5 ft height.

  • Sound Needs: Sound for the production will be played using Qlab through the venues PA system

  • Load Out Time: 30 minutes

    The performance is flexible and can be played in a range of spaces, but the seating configuration should be End On. Audience capacity is recommended between 100-500 seats, depending on venue layout.

 

Outreach and Workshops

The production explores the paths between fact and fiction, myths and truths, and after the performance, Andy offers an optional brief historical fact-check and Q&A session, if time allows within engagement schedule. 

If you are interested in additional workshops or master classes outside of the performance, please contact us for more details.