The premiere of a site-specific, new Gaelic drama, with live music in Studio Alba, will take place on the Isle of Lewis on 27th, 28th and 29th December 2018, as part of the Iolaire Centenary Commemorations, after previewing at the Finborough Theatre, London.

Mairi Morrison will perform the play along with live music from the hugely talented musician and composer Mike Vass and will involve members of the community, when performed in Lewis.

A little about the play…

1918. A Hogmanay that shapes the future of the Isle of Lewis forever.

Hundreds of servicemen are returning home from the South of England to the North-West of Scotland, the Isle of Lewis. The ‘Sheila’ mail-boat cannot cope with all the men arriving in Kyle of Lochalsh so HMY Iolaire is deployed to help 284 men, mostly from the Royal Naval Reserve, make their final journey home.

Metres from land, their hearts rejoicing, HMY Iolaire veers off course and strikes the renowned rocks, Beasts of Holm, causing 201 men to drown on their own doorstep. This was the worst peacetime maritime disaster involving a British vessel, since the Titanic.

This new play explores grief, judgement and solidarity through the eyes of their women as their hardest challenge lies ahead. The performance will include live music and songs. The play is performed in Scottish Gaelic. A free programme with a short synopsis of the play in English will be available.


london preview

Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, SW10 9ED

Monday, December 17th - 7.30pm



Studio Alba, 54a Seaforth Road, HS1 28Q

Thursday, December 27th - 7.30pm
Friday, December 28th - 7.30pm
Saturday, December 29th - Matinée Performance 2pm




Sùil Eile air "Bana-Ghaisgich"


"Bana-Ghaisgich", aig Tèatar Finborough, Lunnainn

Tha sin uile air ar beò-ghlacadh leis a' bhàs, Leòdhasaich gu h-àraid. Tha sin follaiseach sa chiad shealladh aig Màiri Mhoireasdan, agus an caractar aice a' dràibheadh a dh'Ulapul agus smaoineachadh air ciamar a bhiodh i air a cuimhneachadh nan rachadh an càr far an rathaid. 'S ann mu dheidhinn bàs a tha an dealbh-chluich aig Màiri air fad, "Bana-ghaisgich", agus an cumhachd a tha aig boireannaich air a'chèile timcheall air. Gu sgileil tha i a' cluich a h-uile pàirt, ceud bliadhna bho chèile, ann an cearcall timicheal call an Iolaire, lachanaich, a' seinn agus a' caoidh na thachair. Leth-slighe troimhe tha thu a' tuigsinn carson nach robh iad a-riamh a' bruidhinn air an tubaist.  Tha an sgriopt, cuideachd air a sgrìobhadh le Màiri, cho geur agus gu bheil thu air do ghearradh. Uaireannan chan fheum thu faclan. Tha Mike Vass air an àrd-ùrlar a' cur ceòl ris a'chall, sliasaidean iarainn an Iolaire a' sgrìobadh ri na biastan.Nuair a chuireas e air eìdheadh an RNR, 's e aon de na h-ìomhaighean as cumhachdaiche air àrd-ùrlar lom.

Chunnaic mise i ann an Lunnainn. Bidh còisir aig Theatre Gu Leòr ann an Steòrnabhagh an ath sheachdain. Na caill e. 

/We are all obsessed with death, Lewis people in particular.

That is obvious in Mairi Morrison’s first scene, as her character is driving to Ullapool wondering how she would be remembered if she went off the road.Mairi’s play, “Bana Ghaisgich”, is all about death and the power women exercise over each other. Skilfully she plays every part, a century apart, in a circle around the loss of the Iolaire, laughing, singing and mourning what happened. Half way through, you understand why they never spoke about the tragedy. The script, also written by Mairi, is so sharp that it cuts you.Sometimes you don’t need words. Mike Vass is on stage putting music to the loss, the thighs of the Iolaire scraping against the beasts. When he puts on the uniform of the RNR , it is one of the most powerful images on a bare stage.

I saw the play in London. Theatre Gu Leòr will have a choir in Stornoway next week. Don’t miss it.



“Went to see this tonight. Great show. Really emotional and the setting allows the audience to be at the centre of it all. Tells so much of the emotional challenges that island women faced on that awful New Year’s Day morning. Their hopes torn to shreds and lives changed for ever. There is also much humour which all can relate to. Amazing performance by Mairi Morrison as she switches between different characters throughout the past 100 years. Well worth going to see if you can.” - Studio Alba, Stornoway, The Isle of Lewis

“Nis anyone considering going to Studio Alba tomorrow night or Saturday afternoon, GO, Mairi Morrison together with the supporting cast are fantastic- Bana-Ghaisgich is is math a rinn sibh, well worth going to see it. Enjoy, bha e fab!!” - Studio Alba, Stornoway, The Isle of Lewis

“Spectacular performance by Màiri and supporting cast. Anyone who is free for that hour or so tomorrow night or Saturday afternoon please go along, don’t miss this play. Just fantastic.” - Studio Alba, Stornoway, The Isle of Lewis

 “An excellent performance by Mairi and supporting cast, well worth seeing.” - Studio Alba, Stornoway, The Isle of Lewis

 “It was a fantastic performance! Well worth going to see!”- Studio Alba, Stornoway, The Isle of Lewis

“Absolutely brilliant! So glad we heard about it and managed to get.”- Studio Alba, Stornoway, The Isle of Lewis

“So enjoyed last night.Mairi was just amazing.The. Musician and singers were so good.I laughed and cried. I’m so tempted to go see it again.” - Studio Alba, Stornoway, The Isle of Lewis

“Me too, bha siod direach miorbhailach.” - Studio Alba, Stornoway, The Isle of Lewis

“Just home from seeing Bana-ghaisgich, written and performed by the wonderful Mairi Morrison. What an amazing show! Lewis Folk you’ve got one more chance to see it tomorrow, highly recommend it, if you can get along.“ - Studio Alba, Stornoway, The Isle of Lewis

“I went last night and I was not disappointed. What a performance! Màiri Morrison is a very talented woman. The play was cleverly written and staged. She not only gave a performance of oscar worthy proportions but sang beautifully as well. I urge everyone with a free hour this afternoon to go along - you will be captivated. I’m thinking of going again!!” - Studio Alba, Stornoway, The Isle of Lewis

“It was excellent.” - Studio Alba, Stornoway, The Isle of Lewis

“Amazing. My Gaelic is 'pigeon' at best but I still left the studios with tears pouring down my cheeks.” - Studio Alba, Stornoway, The Isle of Lewis

“Yesterday I had the privilege to watch a fantastic production written and acted by the incredibly talented Mairi Morrison and directed by Muireann Kelly. Almost a one-woman cast, Mairi portrayed two pairs of women in two different timelines and used the relationships between them to tell, from a women's perspective, the story of the Iolaire and the impact it had on the community of Lewis one hundred years ago right up to the present day. A powerfully moving piece, punctuated by music and song, Mairi skilfully used minimal props and costume changes to manipulate our imaginations into seeing the four characters she played as entirely discrete, individual women each with their own story to tell. Hard to do - especially when they were arguing with each other! A really, really good piece of drama which made me both laugh and cry. ‘S math a rinn thu a Mhairi! Agus gu math toilichte gun thàinig mi. Mar a thuirt mi, bha e dìreach powerful. Bu chòir dhuit a bhi gu math proiseal anns an obair a rinn thu.” - Studio Alba, Stornoway, The Isle of Lewis

“Just brilliant. Well done Mairi Morrison!” - Studio Alba, Stornoway, The Isle of Lewis

“Tha Mairi air dràma cumhachdach a sgrìobhadh agus a chluich. Tha mi ga moladh gu mòr. Na caill an cothrom fhaicinn,  Studio Alba, Steòrnabhagh”

“Thank you Mairi Morrison, Mike Vass and supporting cast, and Theatre Gu Leòr for a powerful and moving production at Studio Alba tonight. 'S math a rinn sibh uile.”

“Sometimes you don’t need words. Powerful stuff Mairi Morrison. Tapadh leat a Mhairi. Stornoway - a must see.”

“Mairi Morrison in just one of the roles in her fantastic one woman show today @gaidhligtheatre Full house spell bound. Abair obair.”

“Agus Bha e sgoinneal!” - Finborough Theatre, London

“Roar! The Gaels are in the house!” Finborough Theatre, London

“We saw it down here (London) and it was just great. It is a fabulous play, have recommended to my island family. I would actually have liked to see it again. Mairi Morrison one very talented lady.” - Finborough Theatre, London

“Chaidh mi a'raoir agus dh'fhag mi e gun facail, bha e cho feadhmach. I went to this last night and it left me without words, it was so powerful. A few this was a heroic piece of acting. Mairi Morrison single-handedly took us through several different characters and years, with minimal use of props and clothes to differentiate one from the other. Her performance was extraordinary. The way that music and song threaded through the piece of theatre was so effective as to seem completely natural, another part of the script as much as the dialogue (monologue) was. Hearing those familiar songs and tunes mixed in made it that much more gut-wrenching. Apart from the quality of the production, the performance being in Gaelic made it so immediate and fresh in a way that's hard to describe. My Gaelic isn't very good; I stumble in conversation. But was able to follow and feel the impact despite this. Importantly, just hearing someone speak dialogue - recognisable and relatable - really helped warm up old comprehension muscles. More than that, it has an emotional impact that is different. This play would have felt very weird if performed in English. There's another kind of depth of impact, seeing theatre or song performed in a language you grew up speaking. This is not news! But it's important for getting more theatre in Gaelic and Scots commissioned. So meallabh ur naidheachd @gaidhligtheatre more of this please. But also, if your Gaelic is a bit basic or ragged round the edges like mine, don't be afraid to go to the performance. It was not difficult to keep up, and was actively helpful in improving/reminding/maintaining. It's a really good piece of theatre.” - Finborough Theatre, London


Mairi Morrison - Peggy, Colleen, Elaine, Maggie and other characters

Mike Vass - Iain

Community group:

Màiri MacLennan - Màiri

Georgie Finlayson - Gormal

Cathy Mary MacMillan - Seonag

Màiri MacIver - Anna

Donna Barden - Catriona

Creative team

Writer - Mairi Morrison

Dramaturg - Douglas Maxwell

Director - Muireann Kelly

Music/Composition: Mike Vass

Costume Designer - Donna MacLeod

Lighting Designer - Benny Goodman

Production team

Technical Stage Manager - Morag Smith

Marketing design: Niall Walker

Marketing assistant: Alice Walker

Supported by Bòrd na Gàidhlig and Creative Scotland

Script developed with support from Playwrights’ Studio Scotland