The Sma Room Seance

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

Acoustic Music Centre @ St Brides Venue 123

Jen 6-1

Madame Lozatska’s musical seance is getting out of hand. While trying to contact the ghost of Scots poet William Soutar, she is hijacked by the unruly spirits of his friends, family, and rival poet Hugh McDiarmid. Her house band, too, is possessed: Soutar’s poems weave their way into the now-haunting, now-rousing jazz and folk inspired songs. A unique, fresh and very funny take on Soutar’s bitter-sweet life.  An inspiring co-production between Poorboy and the Soutar Quartet. Written by Ajay Close with original music by the Soutar Quartet and directed by Sandy Thomson. 

Deb, Paul Kevin

Aug 12-17 15:45 (75 mins)

Tickets £12/£10 conc.

Family and Group discounts available




Debs 3Debra Salem (vocals)

Debra Salem is a singer/songwriter, arranger, theatre composer and choir director who is originally from Belfast but has been based in Perth since 2003.  She was a Danny Kyle award winner at Celtic Connections in 2010 and received an award from The Katherine McGillivray Get A Life fund to develop her, performing, composition and vocal work. The Sma Room Séance was a result of this award. She has sung with Dougie Maclean and Fraser Anderson amongst others. She has written music for over 70 professional shows and she was the composer/sound-designer for Perth Repertory Theatre for the 2011-2013 seasons working on shows including the award wining The Seafarer and the successful co-production with The Tron of Macbeth. She was also the sound designer/composer for Unfaithful, one of the Traverse shows included in the Made In Scotland 2014 showcase. In addition to her own vocal performance work she works as a singing tutor and more extensively as choral director and workshop leader vocal ensembles. She is currently the Musical Director of Scottish Police and Community Choir (Tayside and Glasgow) and Craigie Community Choir  (Perth) and works with Tayside Health Arts Trust in delivering vocal experiences to COPD and Dementia groups.

PaulPaul Harrison (piano)

Jazz pianist, organist, composer and arranger Paul Harrison was born in Manchester, and came to Edinburgh University on a prestigious piano scholarship, where, during his final year he was awarded the Tovey Memorial Prize. After graduating he turned away from his classical background while immersing himself in the burgeoning Scottish jazz scene. He won the Scottish regional final of the Young Jazz Musician of the Year competition in 1998 and again in 1999, both years going on to compete as one of six British finalists in London. In recent years Paul has been called on to play with many great outstanding international performers, including Chris Potter, David Binney, Bobby Watson, Jesse Davis, Lea DeLaria, Joe Locke, Ulf Wakenius and Warren Vache. In 2009 Paul won the award for Best Pianist at the first Scottish Jazz Awards ceremony, and in 2011 received another award for Best Project for his composition The Hospitalfield Suite. In 2010 Paul was commissioned by the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra to write an arrangement of music by Miles Davis for guitarist John Scofield to play. Recent projects include two CDs with contemporary jazz saxophonist Martin Kershaw, and a UK tour with saxophonist and composer Phil Bancroft’s Home, Small as the World show. More recently he is developing a daring genre-defying duo Herschel 36 with drummer Stuart Brown in which they play extended freely improvised electronic music. Paul now teaches on the jazz degree course at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and at The University of Edinburgh.


Patsy Reid (violin/cello)

Only two years after leaving Breabach, Patsy Reid has become the most in-demand traditional fiddle players in the UK and also works across multi-genres. She has performed as part of The Cecil Sharp Project, Kathryn Tickell’s Northumbrian Voices, at the London 2012 celebrations with Zakir Hussain’s Pulse of the World. She played with The Unusual Suspects and The True North Orchestra, accompanied Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman on tour, as well as forming a new string trio called VAMM. There have been numerous Celtic Connections commissions and a residency in Kolkata, India. And in the studio Patsy is a one woman string quartet, contributing cello, viola and violin to albums by Duncan Chisholm, Bella Hardy, Treacherous Orchestra and Tim Edey.

kevin 2Kevin MacKenzie (guitar)

Kevin Mackenzie, guitarist, has toured extensively and has recorded on many albums in a variety of styles.  His groups have been featured along side guitarist Robben Fords power trio, Bob Berg and Mike Stern, the Crusaders and Seminal Jazz figure Ornette Coleman. In 2001 Kevin received the prestigious ‘Creative Scotland Award’, which he used to write and record music for his nine-piece band Kevin Mackenzie’s Vital Signs. The CD gathered great reviews including album of the month in The Observer and CD of the week in The Guardian. He has has performed with Boris Kozlov, Pete King, Benny Carter, Kenny Wheeler, Tommy Smith, Joe Locke, Bobby Wellins, Jim Mullen, Fiddlers Bid, Marie Fielding, Maggie Macinness, Sunhoney, Finlay Macdoald Band, Karen Tweed and Kurt Elling to name but a few.

Jen 2Jennifer Bates (Madame Lozatska)

Jennifer has worked as a performer, director and teacher. Most recently she has been directing projects with young people who have been brought up in the care system and/or been involved in gang related activities. Her theatre credits include companies such as The Tron Theatre, Glasgow, The Byre Theatre, St Andrews, Poorboy Theatre, Bard In The Botanics, Glasgow Rep and The Royal Shakespeare Company Studio. Film and TV include Icleflix Production ‘Fast Romance’ and Belle and Sebastian’s music video ‘White Collar Boy’. She has worked extensively with Solar Bear Theatre Company directing and devising projects particularly with the young people in their Deaf Youth Theatre.  She is the co-founder of the newly formed ‘The Deaf and Hearing Ensemble’, company in residence at Forest Fringe 2013, they have also performed at Northern Stage and The Roundhouse, Camden.

12dinner04Ajay Close (writer)

Ajay Close’s debut novel, Official and Doubtful, was long-listed for the Orange Prize. Trust, a novel about women, men, love and money, was published earlier this year by Blackfriars, and Tippermuir Books in Scotland. The Keekin Gless, her first play about Scots poet William Soutar, was performed by Perth Youth Theatre in July 2009. In a Sma Room, (now retitled The Sma Room Seance) toured Scotland in 2012. She has just completed Cupid’s Itch, a fictional adaptation of Cat and Mouse, her play about the Scottish suffragettes and the prison doctor who force-fed them. Ajay’s first career was in journalism, where she won many awards. She has written for Scotland on Sunday, the Scotsman, Sunday Herald, Herald, Scottish Review of Books, Sunday Times, Independent, New Statesman and others.

soutar1William Souter (poet)

William Soutar was born in Perth, Scotland in 1898. As a child he shone as a sportsman and gained a reputation as a rebel by leading a school strike.

Between 1912 and 1916 he was a pupil at Perth Academy. Here again he excelled both in the classroom and on the sports field, and was a popular character in his year. His literary skills were also developing at this time and the school magazine, the Young Barbarian, published some of his youthful poems.

At the start of 1917 he joined the navy and served two relatively quiet years before demobilisation. However, his last few weeks were spent on leave as he was already in pain from the first symptoms of the disease that was later to immobilise him.

In April 1919 he entered Edinburgh University with a view to studying medicine but was quickly disenchanted and changed to reading English. During his time at Edinburgh he sent some of his verse to Hugh MacDiarmid and was pleased to have been described by him as being in the top fifty contemporary Scottish poets.

In February 1923, and just a few months before he graduated, his first volume of poetry, Gleanings of an Undergraduate, was published.

At around this time his illness, which had hitherto only affected his legs and feet, began to creep into his back and the subsequent course of treatment put an end to his plan to go to teacher training college. He consoled himself with the realisation that he was now free to become a poet.

In May 1924 the family moved to 27 Wilson Street, a new semi-detached house which had been designed by John Soutar. The “Soutar Hoose” is now maintained by Perth and Kinross Council.

Three years later, in 1927, his parents adopted five year old Evelyn, a distant relation, whose welcome presence in the house provided a focus for Willie’s poetry. He produced a number of bairn-rhymes, or verses for children, which were eventually published in 1933 under the title Seeds in the Wind and dedicated to Evelyn.

Willie’s condition, confirmed as ankylosing spondylitis, worsened steadily and in November 1930 he was permanently confined to bed.

His father extended his bedroom and created a large window overlooking the garden and beyond to Craigie Hill. From his bed, propped up on pillows and dressed in bow tie and jacket, Willie looked out on the world and held court amongst his many visitors and fellow writers, some intellectually stimulating, others less so.

He was diagnosed with tuberculosis in July 1943 and died in October of that year, aged 45.