Every year the changing leaves comes as a surprise to me. It shouldn’t. It happens every year. Still, I marvel at how the deep green of the trees turns yellow and crimson, each leaf its own little tapestry. Walking through the parks and woods I normally observe them as a mass, scattered across the ground, swept up into piles by the wind or groundskeeper or still clinging to the ends of branches. However, occasionally one leaf will catch my eye, its surface like a Jackson Pollock painting and I pick it up, wondering which tree it belongs to and what such a fall must feel like.
In her piece, half-monologue and half-poem, Scottish writer Morna Young lends a voice to these questions. A Passing Dance imagines the preparation and spectacle of a leaf’s descent from a tree. Young’s exploration into the final stages of a leaf’s lifecycle, the detachment and fall from its branches, takes on a very peacefully excited nature. By letting the leaf speak to an unidentified ‘you’, the audience becomes both the observer and the observed. As we watch the leaves “twirl and swirl and whirl” to the ground, the narrating leaf beckons us, the melancholy wanderer, to rest against the foot of the tree.
Actress Rachael McAllister’s vocal performance, guided by director Amy Liptrott, gives A Passing Dance a sense of lightness, her tone one of comfort and soothing. McAllister manages to catch every emotion Young’s words bring forth and carry them high up into the sunlight, like a gust of wind carrying a falling leaf into the limelight for one final performance.
A Passing Dance is part of Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s Shades of Tay project. An artistic voyage with the aim to grow and nurture over 50 pieces of new art by professional and non-professional artists and communities. At the heart of the project lies the River Tay – its mystical might and its inspiring history of the nature and communities that surround it.
Set against video footage of the River Tay, filmed by Russell Beard, A Passing Dance manages just that. At a time where many have retreated from the busy city centres into the contemplative stillness of nature, A Passing Dance asks us to pause and celebrate the moments of change and transformation that give meaning to life.
A Passing Dance is available online via the Pitlochry Festival Theatre website and YouTube channel. For more information visit the Pitlochry Festival Theatre website.