StAnza Festival to Feature Karen Dunbar & More, March, St Andrews


The StAnza poetry festival will feature two poetry plays, A DRUNK WOMAN LOOKS AT A THISTLE starring Karen Dunbar and WHISTLE starring Martin Figura. Both have been praised by critics after runs at the Edinburgh Fringe. The festival takes place at St Andrews from 14-18 March.

Karen Dunbar, one of Scotland’s best-known comedy actors is to bring her brilliant performance of Denise Mina’s monologue, A Drunk Woman Looks at the Thistle, which received a nomination from The Stage for Best Solo Acting Performance at the 2008 Edinburgh Festival. Described by one Fringe reviewer as ‘a blitzkreig of observations, rants, notions, philosophies and musings on what it means to be Scottish’, this a rare chance to see this play again.

Originally from Ayr, Karen rose to prominence on the BBC Radio Scotland and later TV sketch show Chewin’ the Fat, – afterwards, she went on to star in four series of The Karen Dunbar Show. Karen is also an acclaimed performer of Burns: she recorded ten poems and songs for the BBC’s 250 Years of Robert Burns website, including a spirited rendition of ‘Tam o’ Shanter’ (with Brian Cox).

Martin Figura’s one-man show, Whistle, draws on the tragedies of his childhood with a dark, and heartbreaking humour that is profound and yet entertaining. His run at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe drew praise as being: ‘Profoundly honest and at the same time joyfully entertaining’ (Independent on Sunday).The play, which draws on family photographs and memorabilia, is based on his collection of the same name, which was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award and one of the poems won the 2010 Hamish Canham Prize.

David Hayman will read the poetry and prose writings of Philip Larkin, who was a jazz critic as well as poet, at StAnza 2012’s opening night event, Kind of Larkin. David Hayman began his acting career at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow. He gained national prominence playing notorious Barlinnie Prison convict turned sculptor, Jimmy Boyle, in the film A Sense of Freedom, and his long list of film credits include supporting Pierce Brosnan in The Tailor of Panama, Bruce Willis in The Jackal and Kevin Spacey in Ordinary Decent Criminal. Hayman is also well known for his television appearances, most notably as Chief Supt. Michael Walker in Lynda La Plante's long running Trial & Retribution sequence of crime thriller mini-series. Hayman was awarded the City of Glasgow's gold medal in 1992, for outstanding services to the performing arts.

StAnza’s Festival Director Eleanor Livingstone says: ‘It’s wonderful to have been able to programme such an eclectic and diverse mix of dramatic events for this year’s festival, and we are very fortunate in having two leading Scottish actors, familiar to a wide audience, taking to the StAnza stage. We are always keen to offer encounters with poetry in collaboration with other art forms, and I’m looking forward very much to the curtain going up on these three events.’

For updates on StAnza’s programme, including listings, events, participant biographies, sample poems and booking information, visit

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