May 8 2009 by Sara Bain, Dumfries Standard Friday
THE TEAM behind The Original Bicycle Festival has commissioned a short play to celebrate the life and heritage of Kirkpatrick Macmillan, the Dumfriesshire blacksmith, who invented the pedal bicycle.
The Devil on Wheels, written by Jules Horne and directed by Kate Nelson, an accessible and witty monologue that tells Macmillan’s story and captures the sporting passion and spirit of his adventures, will premiere at Penpont Primary School today.
It will then be performed at various schools and public venues across Dumfries and Galloway over the following week.
This includes free public performances at the Festival Café at DGOne, the Robert Burns Centre Film Theatre and Drumlanrig Castle, where Kirkpatrick Macmillan once worked.
The production, starring Fraser Boyle, a 26-year-old graduate of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, centres around Kirkpatrick Macmillan’s appearance in a Glasgow court where he was charged with dangerous driving and knocking down a young girl while riding his new pedal bicycle through the Gorbals in 1842.
Kirkpatrick (or “Pate” as he was nicknamed) presents his defence to the charge and, in particular, the story around his invention and perilous two day and 68 mile journey to Glasgow from Keir Mill.
The 25-minute monologue will bring to life all of the key characters who were involved in this extraordinary trial of its time including Kirkpatrick’s friends and neighbours, the girl who was slightly injured by his bike and the magistrate who tried the case but who was so impressed by the invention he paid for the fine.
The audience will effectively be acting the role of the court.
The play will not only inform and entertain residents of and visitors to the region but it will also reinforce the region’s international reputation for all forms of cycling, from the world renowned 7stanes mountain bike trails to the annual host of road cycling’s Tour of Britain.
Jules Horne is based in Kelso and has written a number of plays including Gorgeous Avatar for the Traverse Theatre; Life; An Audio Diary Tour for BBC Radio 4 and Overdue South for BBC Radio Scotland.
Jules teaches playwriting at the Traverse and Open University and has previously worked as Scottish Arts Council Writing Fellow for Dumfries and Galloway Arts Association.
Kate Nelson has worked for at Pitlochry Festival Theatre, Edinburgh Royal Lyceum and The Bush in London and has directed a number of British premieres including Nutshell productions Stars; Crestfall; Meat and The Play O the Wather.
Kate is programme leader for drama and theatre arts at queen margaret university and a judge for the Robert McLellan award for plays in Scots.