Review of “Oyster Wars”

From Tuesday 24th till Saturday 28th the “Oyster Wars Project” took place in North Edinburgh. This Project consisted of a theatre show, an exhibition and a community event. The main topic was the Oysters and how they defined the local community and how the oysters were transformed from a poor fishermen’s food to a luxurious delicacy, and in future might be a Genetically Modified fish-replacement being sold with chips as a take-away food.

The play was written out of a local, working-class perspective and involved via time-travel the different difficulties in everyday life in various important points of the local history, including not only past time and present events, but also different possibilities for the future.

The Oyster theme was wrapped up in a love story with fantasies involving dancing and exotic costumes, humorous scenes, but also action and fight scenes and revolutionary uprisings, music and singing, and involved video projections and various different simultaneous strings of action and of the storyline waved into the same set via the clever stage setting.

The community was heavily involved in the project, including 4 local primary schools, the local Community High School and the Elderly Project, and the people forming the cast were all locals.

18 months of work have now come to an end, involving local folk looking into the local history.

The program states: “The story is about North Edinburgh and the people of the coastal towns on the Forth. Oysters were a staple food for the local people of the Firth of the Forth for hundreds of years- there are even enthusiastic reports about them by the Romans. In the 1760s the Forth scalp beds provided 30 million oysters a year. Over-dredging to satisfy a rich London market meant that by the mid19th century there was scarcely an industry left and by 1957 there was not one single oyster to be found in the Forth.”

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