Ignite Fellows 2019
Recognising the achievements of talented, professional authors, the Ignite Fellowship offers tailored practical and financial support for exploring new avenues or making new breakthroughs. Meet our 2019 Fellows, Annie George, Marjorie Lotfi Gill and our Gaelic fellow Ruairidh Maclean or find out more about the Ignite Fellowship.
Annie George is a writer, theatremaker and occasional filmmaker based in Edinburgh. Recent plays include Edinburgh Fringe productions ‘Twa’, ‘Home Is Not the Place’, and ‘The Bridge’ - which also toured Scotland. She was awarded the Inspiring Scotland Bursary by the Saltire Society and Scottish Book Trust in 2016.
Annie had been an actor and producer in the mid ‘90s, with Fringe First winning CAT. A. Theatre Company. Writing became her main focus after a residency at Contact Theatre Manchester - where she had also trained in directing – which underlined the need for stories about people from diverse backgrounds in Scottish theatre.
She directed ‘I Knew A Man Called Livingstone’ by Mara Menzies, performed at National Library of Scotland, Scottish International Storytelling Festival and Storymoja Hay Festival in Nairobi. As Assistant Director, she has worked with Magnetic North, and Traverse Theatre Company.
In short film, Annie made the film poem ‘At Rana Plaza’; directed and produced ‘Curry and Irn-Bru’, a Real To Reel Awardwinner, screening internationally; and was actor and development producer of ‘Daddy’s Girl’, winner of numerous international awards including Prix Spécial De Jury for Short Filmat Cannes Film Festival.
Annie's project will be to write a screenplay based on a true story, a wartime spy drama told from a unique perspective. Noor Inayat Khan was the only Indian woman working for British Intelligence in WW2. A member of Special Operations Executive – codename: Madeleine - she became an unlikely heroine of the French Resistance.
Annie started the research many years ago, before SOE personnel files were declassified, so she's excited to reconnect with Noor’s remarkable story and become immersed anew, to finally tell it her way.
"Difficult to put into words how much receiving the Ignite Fellowship means to me - which is kinda ironic. It’s immense, and I’m delighted. Thank you to the wonderful team at Scottish Book Trust, for recognising, encouraging and supporting my work."
Marjorie Lotfi Gill's poems have won competitions, been published widely in journals and anthologies in the UK and US (including The Rialto, Magma, Rattle and Gutter) and been performed on BBC Radio 4. Her pamphlet Refuge, poems about her childhood in revolutionary Iran, was published by Tapsalteerie Press in the spring of 2018. In 2017, she was commissioned by Enterprise Music Scotland to write Pilgrim, a sequence about migration between Iran and the US, and also by the University of Edinburgh to write Bridge, a companion sequence about a woman’s migration within Europe. In 2018, she was commissioned by both Talbot Rice Gallery and the Fruitmarket Gallery to write in response to their exhibitions.
Marjorie founded the Belonging Project, creative writing workshops and readings considering the experiences of refugees with over 1,500 participants, and was also Poet in Residence at Jupiter Artland and Writer in Residence for Spring Fling and the Wigtown Book Festival. She is a founder and director of Open Book, a charity providing shared reading and creative writing groups within community settings across Scotland. She is also the Chair of Trustees of the Wigtown Book Festival.
As a person who was born in the USA, lived in Tehran as a child, fled Iran for the USA, and has now lived the majority of her adult life in the UK, Marjorie plan to use the Ignite award to explore the process of assimilation into a new culture. She’ll use her own experiences as well as whatshe has learned from working with refugees and migrants in Scotland to write about how different people work to build a new life in an unfamiliar place.
"I’m so grateful to be awarded the Ignite Fellowship, which will give me the time, space and support to focus on my own work, think deeply and write further about the process of assimilation and building a new life in an unfamiliar place."
For many years Ruairidh has been leading excursions and workshops (delivered in both English and Gaelic) which celebrate the close connection between the Gaelic language and the Scottish environment, and which invite the telling of traditional stories that link people to land and sea. He is the author of a number of publications about Highland place-names (and many of them have stories attached!)
Ruairidh’s project will be to reinterpret a body of traditional heroic legends which were recorded from Scottish Gaelic storytellers in previous centuries (up to the late 20th Century) so that they become more accessible to young Gaelic speakers and to their parents and teachers (and Gaelic authors and storytellers). Many of the legends belong to the rich Celtic tradition of the Fianna which was at one time central to the identity and self-expression of the Gaels and which has in recent times fallen into neglect in Scotland.
A large amount of material of this nature exists in written and oral form, and Ruairidh intends to distil the elements and plot lines of a good number of stories into a modern narrative which is accessible to the current Gaelic-speaking community in terms of structure, vocabulary and idiom, while being faithful to the cultural references and memes in the original material.
"It’s an honour and a delight to be a recipient of the Ignite Fellowship and I’m most grateful to the team at the Scottish Book Trust and the Gaelic Books Council for their faith in me. I hope I can do them justice by creating a body of stories which will help to reignite (and I hope you notice the verb!) the celebration and telling of some of these wonderful tales and legends."
Marjorie Lotfi Gill photo credit Heshani Sothiraj Eddleston
Annie George photo credit Eve Allan
Notebook image via Kaboompics on Pixabay