Professor Jan McDonald FRSE, Former Professor of Drama, University of Glasgow
At the dawn of the eighteenth century there were no dedicated theatre buildings in Scotland: one hundred years later, there were two in Edinburgh, and no fewer than eight in towns throughout the country: Aberdeen , Arbroath, Ayr, Dundee, Glasgow, Greenock, Paisley – and Dumfries.
Built by public subscription, the ‘New’ Theatre in Dumfries opened in 1792. (It was not accorded the title ‘Royal’ until 1810.) Described as ‘the handsomest provincial theatre in Scotland’, it was frequented by the local gentry, even a few of the clergy, and a fair proportion of radicals.
Its most famous patron was, of course, Robert Burns who regularly wrote prologues for the performers to deliver on special occasions, and whipped up local support for the players.
Against the turbulent background of religious and legal controversies that accompanied the rise of professional theatre in Scotland in the eighteenth century, this talk will discuss the repertoire and the actors of the early years of the Dumfries Theatre, and address the vexed question that is still contentious today, ‘How Scottish was/is Scottish Theatre?’.
Professor Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy, City University, London
Sharp oil price rises have led an oil-dependent food industry to examine possible threats which have started a policy debate on food security that will not go away. Attention is focused on technical innovations such as GM, but societal issues such as restructuring food markets, rapid consumer behaviour change, reshaping cultural tastes and altering price signals should not be ignored. These require state intervention in markets and less consumer choice. The lecture will propose the need for open and democratic debate about food futures. It will warn against technical triumphalism and urge a more balanced integration of societal and supply chain change.
Joint lecture with the Edinburgh Consortium for Rural Research (ECRR) and the Society of Biology, Scotland
In February 1811 the light first shone from the Bell Rock Lighthouse and, apart from during the two world wars, it has been shining continuously ever since. The Bell is the world’s oldest rock lighthouse still in use today and to mark the Bicentenary of this extraordinary example of Georgian engineering, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, in conjunction with the Northern Lighthouse Board, will be holding this Conference. The first half of this day-long Conference will concentrate on the history of the Bell Rock and associated matters, and the second half will consider current use of traditional aids to navigation and then take a glimpse into the future.
Event organised by the Royal Society of Edinburgh in partnership with the Northern Lighthouse Board. Supported by Inchcape Shipping Services.
Bella Bathurst, Author
200 years ago this month, Robert Stevenson’s architectural masterpiece, the Bell Rock light, was finished and lit. But in the time since, what has changed? In an age of GPS and satellite navigation, is there really any need for lighthouses? What troubles British waters now, and do the Stevenson family still have things to teach us?
Event organised by the Royal Society of Edinburgh in partnership with the Northern Lighthouse Board and supported by Inchcape Shipping Services.