One of the positive results about moving to Edinburgh is that it’s so much easier to get places. Although still reliant on ScotRail and Network Rail to deliver their timetables, there is at least a frequent service in many directions, rather than the random train I’ve been used to. So when I heard that Elisabeth Flett of Roots fame was giving the debut of her new show in Dundee I decided to go along.
And what a good decision that was! Christina was funded by Friends of the Wighton Centre, a local history group in Dundee. Lurking in its collection was a musical manuscript containing pieces heard, and then written down, by one Christina Gib. Virtually nothing was known of this amateur musician and the Wighton Centre friends thought she would be an ideal subject for research. They commissioned Elisabeth to undertake the work and to write and perform a presentation based on her findings.
Elisabeth is multi-talented and versatile as this project demonstrates. Christina Gib turned out to be a shadowy character and, in spite of painstaking research in many libraries, little concrete information was to be found. Not to be baulked, though, Elisabeth turned to the musical manuscript and the places Christina was known to have lived.
And on this she built her performance of words and music, weaving for her audience a piece of social history. We may not have met Christina Gib but we did gain an understanding of her social and historical setting, a time, it turns out, not so different from our own. Interspersed with music from Christina’s manuscript Elisabeth’s one woman show was creative, evocative and relevant. And it justly garnered unrestrained applause.