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Rowdy Rock-and-Roll Theatre Performance Explores Overlapping Histories of Scotland and Appalachia

The cast members from the production “Anything That Gives Off Light” perform onstage.

National mythologies and personal histories collide in a theatrical collaboration between The TEAM and the National Theatre of Scotland.

Mixing Scottish-American folk tradition with stomping punk and the TEAM’s trademark athletic performance style, “Anything That Gives Off Light” comes to the Moss Arts Center for two performances on Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2.

Part of a tour marking the North American premiere of the production, the performances will be held in the center’s Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, located within the Street and Davis Performance Hall at 190 Alumni Mall.

“Anything That Gives Off Light”  tells the story of an American woman and two Scotsmen who meet in a London pub while nursing their individual grievances and sense of political betrayal. When the ashes of a legendary social activist and feisty grandmother demand to be laid to rest, the trio head off on a transformative journey between the past and present, the real and imagined, Scottish highlands and Appalachian mountains, in search of a fitting ending.

In 2016, the artists spent two weeks in residence at Virginia Tech, meeting with people throughout the New River Valley to learn about the cultural and political legacy of the Scots and Scotch-Irish in the area.

“Thankfully, we got the chance to develop our ideas with the School of Performing Arts at Virginia Tech, which introduced us to some incredible farmers, fiddlers, preachers, poets, activists, and local historians,” said Dave Anderson, associate director and writer of the production. “Appalachia, we discovered, has a lot in common with Scotland — not just beautiful mountains, but also the scars of heavy industry, negative stereotypes, and remoteness from centres of political power — as well as many folk who can trace their ancestral line back to the ‘Scotch-Irish’ migrants of the 18th century.”

Immediately following the performance, engage with members of The TEAM and learn about the development of “Anything That Gives Off Light” during a post-performance question-and-answer session moderated by Jean Haskell, professor of Appalachian Studies at Virginia Tech.

Patrons will also have the opportunity to engage in a public conversation post-performance using ThoughtSwap, a new web application for anonymizing and distributing thoughts developed by Deborah Tatar, professor of computer science and psychology at Virginia Tech.

During their visit to Blacksburg, members of the TEAM will lead a workshop for students in Virginia Tech’s School of Performing Arts. The workshop will provide students with tools and strategies for solo and group creation of theatre pieces, working through delicate issues of collaboration, and authorship and bridging into the editing and synthesizing process.

The TEAM is an internationally recognized Brooklyn-based theatre ensemble. The TEAM’s mission is to collaboratively create new works about the experience of living in America today. The National Theatre of Scotland showcases Scottish culture around the world and have performed in airports and tower blocks, submarines and swimming pools, telling stories in ways people have never seen before.


Tickets are $20-45 for general public and $10 for students and youth 18 and under. Tickets can be purchased online; at the Moss Arts Center’s box office, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; or by calling 540-231-5300 during box office hours.

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