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Two-part collaboration ‘Atlantic’ to premiere at Edinburgh Fringe

Student and alumni created project explores home, travel and identity

Northwestern's David H. Bell with students of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Northwestern's David H. Bell with students of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

EVANSTON - A two-part musical collaboration exploring the nature of home, travel and identity will premiere at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival.

The thematically-linked productions, “Atlantic: A Scottish Story” and “Atlantic: America & The Great War,” are the product of a new transatlantic collaboration between Northwestern University’s American Music Theatre Project (AMTP) and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS).

The productions will be presented Aug. 3 to 27 in Assembly Hall at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

“Atlantic: A Scottish Story” is a new musical written by RCS alumni Scott Gilmour and Claire Mckenzie. If we never leave home and see the world, can we still be happy? On an island off the coast of Scotland, a girl and a boy look across the ocean and long to discover what’s beyond. But when the girl is left behind, she must find a way to live. The dynamic storytelling of “Atlantic: A Scottish Story” is set to a soaring Scottish folk score.

“Atlantic: America & The Great War,” written by Northwestern alumni  Christopher Anselmo, Ryan Bernsten and Desiree Staples, is an ensemble-driven adventure with a rousing American folk score that explores the timely uncertainty of what it means to be American. On the eve of World War I, two African-American sisters uncover their complicated European ancestry, but when one disappears while tracing their lineage overseas, the other must leave home for the first time to find her.

Each 16-member cast includes a mix of students from each school. Music for both productions will be performed by a live band comprised of members from the acting ensemble and musicians from the RCS.

"The creation of music theater has, like everything else in the 21st century, become a global opportunity,” said David H. Bell, the Donald G. Robertson Director in Music Theatre and AMTP artistic director at Northwestern. “This shared project has given our students an exciting opportunity to learn from each other, and explore new methods of collaboration and creating music theater stories.”

“Performing and producing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is a once-in-a-lifetime student experience,” said Hugh Hodgart, director of drama, dance, production and film at the RCS. “Our students have a unique and wonderful opportunity to showcase their talents, whether it’s onstage or behind the scenes, to an international audience.”

The two institutions launched the partnership in the fall of 2016. In January, the RCS hosted a developmental workshop in Glasgow and a second workshop was hosted by AMTP at Northwestern University in May. Northwestern students will travel to Scotland for rehearsals beginning July 17 and continuing until the Edinburgh Festival Fringe opening Aug. 3.  

For more information on Edinburgh Festival Fringe, visit the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s dedicated Fringe website.

About the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is ranked sixth in the world for performing arts education and is ranked number one in Scotland for graduate employability, endorsing its status as a national and international center of excellence for the performing arts.

In 2017, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is celebrating its 170th birthday. It has built on its roots as a national academy of music to become one of Europe’s most multidisciplinary performing arts higher education centers, offering specialized teaching across music, drama, dance, production and film. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is encouraging transdisciplinary learning throughout its innovative curriculum.

About the American Music Theatre Project

The American Music Theatre Project at Northwestern University brings together the nation’s leading artists in music theatre to nourish and invigorate American music theater by developing and producing new musicals; increasing opportunities for education and training with Northwestern’s theater, music theatre and dance programs; and creating new connections between professional and academic communities.

The American Music Theatre Project is a member of the Northwestern Arts Circle which brings together film, humanities, literary arts, music, theatre, dance and visual arts. 

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