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Pitlochry Festival Theatre to premiere adaptation of John Byrne's Donald and Benoit

Donald and Benoit cast

Pitlochry Festival has announced the world premiere of new audio play Donald and Benoit.

John Patrick Byrne’s original story has been adapted by Jeanine Byrne.

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Featuring original songs and co-directed by Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s Artistic Director Elizabeth Newman and the theatre’s Associate Director and composer Ben Occhipinti, Donald and Benoit will premiere on Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s audio-digital venture, Sound Stage from 17 – 19 December.

Music is composed by Ben Occhipinti with musical director Rob Hiley and sound designer John Nicholls.

The cast features Connor Going (Donald); Ross Baxter (Benoit); David Colvin (Angus); Richard Colvin (Wee Eck); Cara Kelly (Salty); Keith Macpherson (Jean Kiki); Colin McCredie (Bucky); Gavin Mitchell (Radio DJ); Patricia Panther (Belle); Emilie Patry (Jolie); Kirsty Stuart (Mistress Senga McSporran); and Ali Watt (Dorbie).

Benoit lives a life of mundane ordinariness in his Scottish seaside town. He is feeling very lonely with no mother and his father lost at sea, what could ever make him feel less lonely and sad? Enter Donald, the small and mischievous kitten.

Playwright and theatre maker Jeanine Byrne said: “I have long thought that John’s delightful children’s book Donald and Benoit would make a wonderful family Christmas show. I have mentioned this to John on many occasions over the years, but it was only at the end of last year, unexpectedly, he asked me to do the adaptation. He felt now was the time and, after my second diagnosis of cancer, John knew I was now dedicating all my spare energies’ to making work.

“He originally wrote Donald and Benoit for his twins, Xavier and Honor. As I adapted the book it became apparent to me that Donald and Benoit are in fact the twins… Benoit the upright, honourable, and kind Xavier and Donald the mad cap, funny, spirited Honor. I wanted to honour John in this adaptation and have done so by inserting a few ‘echoes’ from John’s other works such as Radio DJ and a nod to Glenna’s famous long-sleeved jumpers – both from Tutti Frutti. After 15 years together, I could hear John in my head as I wrote- it was such a joy.”

Author, playwright, and artist John Patrick Byrne added: “Jeanine’s adaptation is great. She has been focusing on writing for the past couple of years, so I asked her to adapt Donald and Benoit. She said for a long time how well it would work as a family piece. We read and discussed each scene as she wrote them. It has been of the utmost importance to her that I was entirely happy with the adaptation. She has done an incredible job of preserving and celebrating my original story, but she has also used her own ingenuity and creativity to make it a fun experience for audiences. I am looking forward to going to the recording with her.”

Donald and Benoit will premiere on Sound Stage from 17-19 December. For tickets and further information visit www.pitlochryfestivaltheatre.com

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