Early 1980s Scotland in Airdrie, a former mining village. This is the setting for David Keenan’s book, This Is Memorial Device, which is to some degree, a hallucinatory love letter to the abandoned youth of this Central Belt hinterland whose lives contained little other than music. In partnership with the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh and writer-director Graham Eatough, the Book Festival are offering a theatrical response to Keenan’s cult hit, featuring music selected by Stephen McRobbie from Glasgow band The Pastels. Director, Graham Eatough spoke with The Fountain about the show and his desire to work with Stephen McRobbie.
TF: You’re directing a play adaptation of David Keenan’s This Is Memorial Device for EIBF this year, what can we expect from this?
The book is a hilarious, moving, fantastical take on the power of music and the agonies and ecstasies of growing up in small-town Scotland. So hopefully we can communicate a bit of all of that!
TF: Have you been involved in the book festival’s Playing With Books before, how did this all come about?
This is my first Playing with Books event. It’s such a good idea I think – to create an opportunity for theatre makers to play around with brilliant books. I’m really looking forward to it.
TF: And Stephen McRobbie of The Pastels is included in the cast, you must be looking forward to these special performances?
Yes I’ve managed to persuade Stephen to help us out with the music side of things – which is obviously such an important part of the book. Stephen and David Keenan know each other of old and I’ve been wanting to work with Stephen for ages so it feel like a good fit.
TF: What was it about this novel set in Airdrie that enticed you to work on this project?
I loved the book when it first came out. It’s full of brilliantly observed detail about the characters in small towns like Airdrie that made up the music scenes of the time. It’s so evocative of the crazy nights, the crappy gigs, the fanzines, but also the transformative potential of it all. The book has this amazing combination of vivid working class voices and a kind of magic realism that i found very exciting.
TF: And what can we expect from you after the Book Festival, more films or theatre performances?
I’m making a film with the artist Simon Starling about Caravaggio’s time on Malta and making a new show with David Greig and the team that made Lanark.
Graham Eatough is directing This Is Memorial Device, The Spiegeltent, 15:30 on Saturday 10th August.