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Meet the man behind Man Shed – which is headed for Ardross Hall in Easter Ross

By Margaret Chrystall

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Euan Martin in his own shed!
Euan Martin in his own shed!

Fresh from glowing reviews at its second Edinburgh Festival Fringe run, Man Shed started a 17-date tour of the north-east on Friday and is heading to Easter ross this week.

Euan Martin of theatre company Right Lines tells the story of the show...

Man Shed rehearsals in Tain ahead of major tour

Q How did the idea for the Man Shed show start?

A I can’t quite remember the germ of the idea. It has been developing and growing over five years and the bulk of the show was written prior to 2020 and had an initial tour booked in for May 2020 – and guess what happened that year?! It was disappointing but we had a rehearsed reading of the show in January 2020 in my kitchen and Ron Emslie the actor came up and we turned it into a little studio theatre and performed it in front of a little group of friends and some potential promoters and people were really interested and excited by the show.

Q Though the play has been to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe ­– and earned a four-star review – and is now starting a big tour across the whole north east of Scotland, Man Shed was also at last year’s Fringe. How did that come about?

A From the pandemic stopping our plans, fast forward to last year and in 2022 we were luckily enough to be selected as Eden Court’s contribution to the Edinburgh Partnership Project. It supports provincial theatres to partner with a theatre company from their area to bid to win a place to appear at the Edinburgh Fringe – so we were successful in achieving that with Man Shed!

Q You were back at the Fringe this year?

A That is how it got off the ground, a small amount of funding and providing a venue which was The Pleasance last year. This year Ron decided he would like another shot at it and to take the show back to the Fringe and we though t it was a great idea and said we would organise the tour up here after it. This year we were at the Gilded Balloon at Teviot Row. North East Arts Touring have taken it for four dates and we pitched it to other theatres and now there are 17 dates in the tour.

Q Was it easy to get the show on the road?

A Right Lines has been on the go for 20 years and though we haven’t toured every year, not far off it. It’s getting harder and harder to get funding for shows. Or sponsorship. So it’s important to say there is no funding attached to this tour at all, it’s all based on box office fees and box office splits. But we have had fantastic support from the Scottish Men’s Shed Association, not in terms of financial input, but they were very keen to support us in putting stuff out on their website and social media and have included us in an article in their online magazine.

Actor Ron Emslie in Man Shed.
Actor Ron Emslie in Man Shed.

Q How did you find out about the Men’s Shed movement?

A I just became interested in Men’s Sheds as a wonderful organisation supporting men who have lost their jobs, become redundant or retired and have loads of skills and talents but no outlet for them once work finishes. A lot of the time, they may have lost their partner so there is no focus for their lives. Sadly a lot of people’s mental health suffers greatly. So the Men’s Shed organisation is something that provides a place for people to gather and interact socially.

Q You did other research for this show?

A I met with Jason Schroeder of the Men’s Sheds Associations and went to different Men’s Sheds, including my local one in Forres, Fochabers, Westhill and Inverurie and met with those guys. I got some of their story, not exactly, but ideas to inspire me and create little vignettes in the play.

The play reaches Ardross Hall on Thursday. Read more here.

Full tour list: rightlines.net/rightlines/

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