Aaarcadia – Fire Arch and the Dystopian Hippylgrimage
Organisers Tom Watton, Lotte Kravitz and Robin Crane
Aaarcadia have made their final group selection and are now closed.
Aarcadia is bunch of nasty fascists only concerned with protecting their hedge (the fire arch). No one should come or go through this border. We will perform with topical political effigies which will provoke the status quo.
After the arch is opened (and our hedge is destroyed) the Fire Arch Group will transition into the Hippylgrimage, a mask based clowning refugee procession, searching for identity and acceptance from the society, but will/should we ever be reaccepted and welcomed given our previous vile state?
Who we are looking for: Relaxed but focused team players. There is a couple of big build project/elements to the group so people who want to give things a go and learn new skills/share existing skills is important. Members must be able to take things lightly. Would suit those interested in working on character performance/maskwork/clowning skills as a part of a group. Experience is nice, enthusiasm is better!
We will be meeting on: Wednesday evenings and Sundays.
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Organisers Jay Wiwezar, Andrew Bell and Sarah Barr
Aerie have made their final group selection and are now closed.
Messengers of hope, we fly and sing to announce the arrival of the Green Man and the May Queen on Calton Hill.
Throughout history, birds have been represented as the manifestation of the heavens’ will, as kind messengers, or harbingers of doom. The Aerie will explore this concept by offering to the witnesses a performance that would herald the coming of Summer, and the return of the Green Man.
We are a performance group that will focus its efforts into blending the use of noisemakers and puppetry in order to weave a narrative based on conflict, closure and renewal. We will also craft our own wings and our own masks, along with a large bird puppet.
Who we’re ideally looking for: Group members with a keen interest in dramatic performance, be it musical or physical. But we’re at heart a very welcoming group and would be quite willing to help train newcomers, especially if they’re enthusiastic and have a good sense of rhythm. We also have room for a couple of helpers; bonus points for you if you know how to build props!
Our Open Practices will be on: the 2nd of March in the Meadows (near the Pavilion) from 6pm to 8pm, on the 5th of March, in Holyrood Park (Meeting in front of the Parliament) from 2pm to 5pm, and on the 9th of March in St-Margaret’s House from 7pm to 9pm.
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Organisers Lindsay Hunter and Anna Meulepas
Aether Drummers have made their final group selection and are now closed.
In a time before time, in a galaxy before galaxies, there was and was not, the Aether. Our material universe is described by means of four physical elements – air, earth, water and fire. But Aether, the fifth element, describes that which exists beyond matter. It is the space, and the non-space, out of which all material objects spring forth.
The fifth element is considered to be vibrational frequency or sound energy. Although the sound may not always be audible, the vibrations are still there at various frequencies. Everything is in constant motion. Aether is omnipresent – it has always been, and therefore never been. This Beltane night, it is time for these sounds to be heard.
What we are looking for: We are a technical drum crew, so first and foremost, we need you to want to hit a drum. The openness to new experiences and an eagerness to learn are central requirements, and the ability to drum will spring forth from that. A feel for rhythm is desired, previously acquired drumming skills are joyfully celebrated, but by no means a fully determining element
We will be meeting on: Wednesdays 7-10pm and Sundays 2-6pm
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Aios Fior (People of the Fire)
Organisers Bruno Marchand, Nathan Goodfriend
Aios Fior have made their final group selection and are now closed.
We’re a fire spinning group who will be doing performing partner/group based fire dancing tricks with conventional fire spinning toys (Poi, hoop, staff…)
We are looking for: Active, keen to learn and teach, community oriented people. Some fire spinning knowledge is helpful.
We will be meeting on: Mondays and Thursdays 7-9, and the occasional Saturday.
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The Beastie Drummers
Organisers Cam Ginty, Irene Morelli, Moira Morrison
The Beasties have made their final group selection and are now closed.
The Beasties are a force of nature, drumming so strong you can’t help but break through the drone of mundanity and tune into deeper, sacral frequencies where all who hear can connect and revel in the magic. We draw our energy from the earth and seize the spectators’ minds until they are dancing, finally in the present moment, with us. We build fierce, cathartic rhythms, creating a communal consciousness; our breath and heartbeats aligning as one big, pulsating vibration. Our fiery groove will fuel the Red energy bursting through the night, flooding the veins and quickening the hearts of everyone on the Hill; drawing them into the contagious awakening of Summer and alighting their own personal fire inside.
We are looking for: Dedicated people who are ready to begin a journey of authentic self-discovery – getting back in the body and discovering who we really are underneath all of the social constraints, cultural norms and roles. We want people who are prepared to work hard on learning new drum rhythms to performance standard. Drumming experience recommended but not necessary.
When we will be meeting: This is a high commitment group, rehearsing every Wednesday 7pm – 10pm and every Sunday 2pm – 6pm. All members must be available for the weekend away 7th – 9th April.
Our open practices are on Wednesday 1st March 7pm – 10pm, Sunday 5th March 3pm – 6pm and Friday 10th March 7pm – 10pm all at the Bongo Club.
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Organisers Fenland & Alex Fitzgerald
Bower have made their final group selection and are now closed.
The Bower is the ‘Home on the Hill’. It is the start of the event for some and the end of the event for everyone. We will be looking at concepts of space, home and welcoming people. Our main focus will be the physical space of Bower and the part it plays in the culmination of the event on the night. However, once the group is formed we will discuss what else can be done with the people we have.
The 30th Beltane is both a moment to look back but also to look forward to future aspirations so where better to do that than from the comfort of your own Home (on the hill)?
Who are looking for: We are open to anyone, even if they have not done Beltane before. Bower is where all the community comes together and we will be holding space for the whole society, so we are looking for people who are willing to take on roles which support this. If you have done Beltane/Samhuinn before we will be exploring ways to bring your own journey to this year’s Bower.
When we will be meeting: On Sundays, normally at 1pm – although the timing may change depending on activity for the week. We will be adding in more sessions closer to the event in agreement with the group – to achieve what is needed.
Our first session (Sunday 5th March) will be in the Regent Pub, Abbeymount at 1pm.
Organisers Tom Gibson and Rob Thorburn
The Evergreens are the ghosts, memories and joys of the last 30 years relived on the hill by a group of those who have previously portrayed the natural cycle of birth growth and death as the Green Man at Beltane or one of the Kings at Samhuinn.
The Evergreens will wander amongst the witnesses sharing with them a glimpse of half remembered sword-fights, the start of a dance, the shadow of a death.
They then find their home in the bower to see if there accumulated wisdom can survive the journey out of the land of the fay into the world of the mundane carried by this year’s Green.
Who we are looking for: The group is by its nature one whose membership is limited to those who have previously portrayed the Green Man or the Kings however if you have any questions about our group or are an ex Green who we haven’t been able to contact (even if not able to be physically present on the night) please get in touch through our e-mail.
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Fire Puppet Point
Organisers Jackie Burrell and Karen Dickson
Fire Puppet have made their final group selection and are now closed.
The dragon and the phoenix are classic creatures of fire. The dragon is strength and vitality; the phoenix is regeneration and renewal. The dragon will embody the element of fire; and the phoenix will, like the Green Man, make a journey through life to death and back to life again. We intend to make these creatures come to life in the classic tradition of BFS by making the puppets out of paraffin-soaked fire rope and setting them on fire!
What we are looking for: We are looking for members with an interest in puppetry, performance and fire. Experience desirable but not required.
We will be meeting on: Thursday evenings although this can be flexible.
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Organisers Eliza Biscotti and Hanna Lappalainen
The Foxes have made their final group selection and are now closed.
We are the foxes! We are a family of foxes representing Earth and on Beltane night we’ll be set off on the hunt around Calton Hill. We’ll be focusing on body percussion, dynamic acrobatics and a bit of character work and mask making.
What we are looking for: We are open to anyone with an interest in body percussion, dynamic acro (optional), or being a fox! Our group has a mix of characters, so there’s room to be creative, but a sense of rhythm and movement is helpful. Our group is low time, but high commitment and ideally members will be able to make all the key practices’.
We will be meeting: 11am – 2pm Sundays at Shapes Studio, Upper Arthur Street, Leith.
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Organisers Mark Taylor and Neil Barton
Photopoint have made their final group selection and are now closed.
Photo Point create a high quality photographic, and possible video, record of the festival, the preceding events and rehearsals, and the people involved.
We hold photography workshops specifically aimed at preparing our members for photographing the Beltane festival. We photograph preparations leading up to the festival as well as the festival itself.
Who we are looking for: We accept all skill and experience levels and can also teach the necessary skills if required. Group members will require their own photography equipment. DSLRs or good mirrorless cameras together with an external flash will be essential.
When we will be meeting: Sunday afternoons & Wednesday evenings. Other days may be necessary if we are requested to photograph other group’s rehearsals.
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Organisers Gav Kennerley and Tom Caine
Processional Drummers have made their final group selection and are now closed.
The fanatical drummers driving the procession around the hill, unrelenting, air-tearing rhythms. We devote all our energy and focus into drumming at the exclusion of all else. We will be playing Basses, Toms, Snares, High tension snares and assorted percussion.
We are looking for: Anyone who loves to drum! Application and enthusiasm is more important than experience, but we will also have fun times (read: drum geekery) for even the most grizzled drum crew veteran.
When will be meeting: 1st March Bongo Club 7/10pm, 5th March 6/9pm Colorsound in Haymarket, 10th March Bongo club 7/10pm. All subsequent practices after the open ones will be Wednesdays and Sundays.
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Organisers William Ferguson and Sam Haddow
Reds have made their final group selection and are now closed.
Reds are elemental creatures of chaos and misrule, representatives both of summer and of the Green Man’s love for the May Queen. We are born on the night of Beltane, and we come to maturity by the end of the ritual, where we are united with the Whites. Along the way we wreak merry havoc, playing with audience members, putting up human pyramids, charging with fire, pranking the main procession and generally revelling in our irrepressible spirit of beautiful pandemonium.
Who we are looking for: We are a high commitment and very physical group. We are looking for people of any level of experience who are prepared to train hard, and creatively engage with their own internal chaos. We will train our members in acro-performance, physical theatre and dance, and will lead workshops and activities designed to help them discover and give form to their inner “red”.
We will meet on: Wednesdays 7-10pm, Sundays 1-7pm.
You must also be available from the 7th-9th April, and there will be optional extra practices and social events arranged within the two month rehearsal period.
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Organiser Danielle Christie
The friendly human face of the Beltane Fire Festival.
We work with the production crew, emergency services and the performance groups to make sure everyone has a safe and joyful Beltane. We are not a performing group but we will interact heavily with the audience, telling them about the significance of the celebrations and about some of the things they will see so that they can make the most of their experience.
When we are meeting: Our regular training meetings will normally take place on Calton Hill once a week on Sundays between 2-5pm but the location and time of the meetings may vary depending on what other groups we need to practice with in the lead up to the festival. We’ll be playing games and building our confidence in holding spaces and working as a team, and we’ll also do some fire training.
If you are keen to join us but can’t make all the meetings, talk to us anyway. We are a flexible group suitable for people with real-world responsibilities.
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Organisers Helen Bradburn, Greig Douglas and Jonny Crombie
Tech are the stage crew of Beltane.
In the run up to Beltane we build fire sculptures and props for groups, preparing everything to be taken to the Hill. In the days immediately before and on the day, we prepare Calton Hill for the festival – building stages and decorating the hill, as well as setting up the fencing, crowd barriers, toilets and lighting. During the event, as well as looking after the safety of our audience and performers, we run the neid fire to the key points, making sure all the performers have the light and toys they need and maybe even fire some pyrotechnics. At the end of the event and on the day after we take it all down again.
With this being the 30th Anniversary we will be looking to go a bit bigger than in the last few years with more sculptures, decorations and most importantly MORE FIRE!!!
Who we are looking for: Tech is quite a lot of work – but fun and rewarding at the same time. Don’t worry if you’ve never done this sort of thing before, if you bring a willing pair of hands we’ll promise to keep you fed / watered and show you all that needs to be done!
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Organisers Bradley Mcarthur and Dulcea Wind
Torchbearers have made their final group selection and are now closed.
We stand between the darkness and the light allowing the audience to see through the veil and witness the festival.
Torchbearers are the physical representation of the veil between worlds. We provide the light that allows the audience to see the performance and are a visual barrier between the audience and the performance.
In the beginning we light the Neid fire providing all fire on the hill, then carry that fire in our torches along the procession and into performance spaces in order to provide light.
Who we are looking for: All experience levels welcome, whether you are new to Beltane or have performed in lots of festivals. Torchbearers will teach you everything that you need to know to be a Torchie (e.g. how to make torch balls, which are the fuel for the torches) and is a great introduction to the festival.
We will be meeting on: 7–9pm on Thursdays and 1–5pm on the Sundays
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Organisers Seth Ewin and Katie Craig
Water Point have made their final group selection and are now closed.
Yo ho ho. We be a crew of hearty sea dogs sailing our pirate Galleon across the high seas of Calton Hill.
Who we are looking for: We are looking for people who want so make a galleon ship carnival float, people who want to perform in and around said ship in a pirate-y fashion. If you can play an instrument, great, if you have any experience with carpentry, great, if you’ve done some acro, great, and if not, but you’re keen to try some/ all of this, come along too.
We will be meeting: Sunday afternoons, Thursday evenings. Our first (open) meeting will be on Thursday 2nd March at 7pm at the black cannon on Calton Hill. Our second (open) meeting will be on Sunday 5th March at 2pm Scottish Parliament pond. Our third (open) meeting will be at the whale bones on the Meadows at 7pm on Thursday 9th March.
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Organisers Hannah McIlhinney and Steffi Taylor
Whites have made their final group selection and are now closed.
“We will take this journey without hesitation”
Whites are strong, sure footed, serene and confident beings.
We know there is change in the air, trials to face and lessons we must learn. We choose to put our complete faith and trust in the May Queen. She is our guide and we are Her companions as we travel together around the hill.
We rise with Her from the Earth and survey the barren landscape, knowing we must journey to create fertile lands once more. Her intentions work through us to help protect the procession from the forces that threaten and test it. In turn She gives us purpose and shows us where our destiny lies.
When the May Queens calls forth a reborn Green Man we know we are nearing the end and that our destiny awaits. Our last duty is to bring our energy to the flame that signals the return of summer. At Bower the reward for our efforts is made real as we have our final, destined, encounter with the Reds.
We choose to do our duty to the Court out of faith, trust and love for the May Queen.
Who we are looking for: This is a high commitment, high energy group. Group members are expected to attend a majority of our practices and our group weekend away (31st March -2nd April) is mandatory. Whites are a very active performance group, following the procession around the hill for the duration of the festival. Our weekend away will involve 2 nights of wild camping.
We want enthusiastic people willing to work as a team to create a ritual performance fitting for the 30th Beltane.
When we will be meeting: Our open practices are Wednesday 1st March 7-9pm off Middle Meadow Walk and Saturday 4th March 2-5pm on Calton Hill. After our open practices our regular practices sessions will be Wednesdays 7-9pm and Sundays 1pm-5pm.
Featured image by Martin McCarthy for Beltane Fire Society.