A Hamnavoe Man

Poster by Iain Ashman

A Hamnavoe Man by Pam Beasant

presented by the St Magnus Players

‘A Hamnavoe Man’ was originally commissioned by and performed at the 2006 St Magnus Festival. It was a promenade performance through the streets of Stromness, where George Mackay Brown was born and where he lived for most of his life.

This version, adapted for voices, recorded by the St Magnus Players in 2021, marks the centenary of GMB’s birth.

Led by a ‘cat’, an ‘everyman’ figure and a fiddler, ‘A Hamnavoe Man’ is set in seven locations throughout Stromness. Starting at the Pierhead, it is a journey that ends on the steps of the writer’s last home in Mayburn Court, at the south end of the town. Apart from some necessary additional material to make it work as an integrated piece of theatre – the character of the cat being the main one – the piece is in GMB’s words, drawing on the familiar and the less familiar from his prolific output to give a partly biographical exploration of the man and his work, set against the backdrop of his home town.

GMB’s own community, including his friends, family and some of their children, produced this drama with passion, skill and great affection in 2006. The same community, including some original cast and crew members, have produced this audio version in 2021. Both versions were directed by Penny Aberdein, written and adapted by Pam Beasant, and Ken Dempster’s beautiful original score has been revived by Orkney Camerata, directed by Glenys Hughes. The accompanying film for the video version was made by Sarah Sutherland. This production is also supported by the George Mackay Brown Fellowship, an organisation set up in 2006 to celebrate the legacy of Orkney’s literature and support new writing.

It remains hard to conceive of a more meaningful way to hear GMB’s words, with their perennial freshness and beauty, than to place them among the piers, alleys and nousts where his poetic imagination was shaped and honed.

Watch the film and audio of the 2021 production here:

Creative Team

Writer                                      Pam  Beasant

Composer                                Ken Dempster

Musical Director                     Glenys Hughes

Director                                   Penny Aberdein


Man                                         Bob Ross

Cat                                           Sarah Sutherland

Mareon Clark                          Cynthia Chaddock

William Clark                          Chris Matthews

Sailor                                       Scott Gilmour

Young John Brown                  Audun Towrie

Mhairi Mackay                        Ellen Moar

Men’s Voices on the

pier and in the church             Jim Chalmers

                                                Audun Towrie

                                                Chris Matthews

Gossiping Women                   Maggie Hay

                                                Phyllis McLaughlin

                                                Cynthia Chaddock

Young George Brown             Einar Towrie

Woman at the Fair                  Cally Bevan

Children at the fair                 Maggie Bevan

                                               Connie Bevan

Ikey Faa                                  Jim Chalmers

Musicians – from Orkney Camerata

Lesley Macleod violin

Gemma McGregor                  flute

David Griffith                          tenor saxophone

Brian Jones                              trumpet

Glenys Hughes                        keyboard

Yvonne Gray                            oboe


Sound                                      Michael Mappin

                                                Mark Kirkbride

Videographer                          Sarah Sutherland

Production Assistant              Margaret Sutherland

Safety Officer                          Pete Oswald

Poster image                          Iain Ashman


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