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A Chekhov play about an aristocratic Russian family forced to sell their estate to pay off debts is to be adapted into Gaelic on the Isle of Berneray.

Actor and writer Elspeth Turner, who has family connections to Berneray, has won a Scottish Society of Playwrights fellowship to adapt The Cherry Orchard into contemporary Gaelic.

Elspeth, who was involved in Marram, a Gaelic short film filmed on Berneray in 2019, is one of ten writers selected for a fellowship to celebrate the Scottish Society of Playwrights’ 50th anniversary.

She will return to Berneray to work on The Cherry Orchard adaptation and will be supported by Taigh Chearsabhagh.

“The Cherry Orchard” is a play by Anton Chekhov that was first performed in 1904. It tells the story of an aristocratic Russian family who are forced to sell their estate, including its famous cherry orchard, to pay off their debts

The play is a tragicomedy that explores themes of social change and generational conflict. A poignant exploration of the passing of an era, the clash between old and new values, and the human struggle against the inevitability of change, it is not without modern parallels to Berneray, which is part of the Bays of Harris estate community buyout.

It is hoped the Bay of Harris buyout will be concluded this year, opening the door to reversing a century of decline.

Each SSP@50 fellowship has been awarded to a project that celebrates theatre’s vital role in Scotland’s life and culture. A local arts organisation or venue supports the recipients.

Each Fellow receives a £4000 bursary, supplementary production budget, and individual additional support from their partner organisation to complete their project.