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A Big Map for the Big Yin! Interactive map launched to celebrate Billy Connolly

National Theatre of Scotland launches a new interactive map for Scotland to demonstrate its love for the Big Yin, inviting people to share their own Billy Connolly memories.

A Big Map for the Big Yin! Interactive map launched to celebrate Billy Connolly

Article Source: National Theatre of Scotland
Last Updated: 25 April 2024 15:21

National Theatre of Scotland’s acclaimed, five-star, sell-out production, celebrating Scotland’s most loved comedian, Billy Connolly, returns to stages in 2024.

Billy Connolly’s relationship with Scotland spans his extraordinary life and career over the last 80 years. The National Theatre of Scotland wants to create a map of all the places that have a personal connection to Billy, to help create a love letter from the people of Scotland to their favourite comedian.  They are inviting people to share their knowledge of Billy, stories, memories and photos, to make a living tribute to The Big Yin.

Billy Connolly toured the folk clubs, the grand theatres and workings men’s clubs of Scotland from 1970’s, retiring from live performance in 2018.

Born at 69 Dover Street, Anderston, he worked the shipyards of Glasgow’s Clydeside in the 1960’s, before taking to the road with folk rock band The Humblebums.

He made his theatrical debut, in 1972 at the Cottage Theatre in Cumbernauld, ahead of performing in The Great Northern Welly Boot Show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, also that year.

Billy first established himself as a star, selling out a run and breaking box office records at Glasgow’s Pavilion Theatre in Jan/Feb 1974, returning to the theatre on many occasions.

In January 1994, he undertook a World Tour of Scotland on a Harley Davidson, taking him from Kelso to Kirkwall with a stop off at Eden Court, Inverness, broadcast on the BBC later in the year. His love affair with his native country, continued with his residence at Candacraig House, in Aberdeenshire.

Further information on the map and how to be involved can be found here.

Gary McNair – writer and performer of Dear Billy said: “I'm delighted we are launching the Big Map for the Big Yin where people can pin their own stories and connections to Billy. As we learned when interviewing people to make this show- everyone has something to say about Billy, whether that's a memorable meeting or a connection to his work.

The great thing about the Big Map is that there is a space where people can continue to share and hopefully build an interactive document about what he means to us all.

I'm beyond giddy to be bringing the show Dear Billy back so soon after it's tour last year. It is a genuine honour to have been trusted to make this show, Billy is so important to so many people that it was so well received was a dream come true. I can't wait to get back on the road with the band and meet new amazing audience.”


About Dear Billy
In 2023 National Theatre of Scotland’s production of Dear Billy undertook a 17 venue Scotland-wide tour, reaching over 8000 people. Originally announced to mark Billy Connolly’s 80th birthday year, the production was enthusiastically received by audiences, selling-out at venues across Scotland, garnering a wealth of positive reviews and due to popular demand is now back on tour again in 2024.

Dear Billy

"If you want to know about Billy Connolly, ask the people of Scotland. If you want to know about the people of Scotland, ask them about Billy Connolly."

Billy Connolly needs no introduction. He is a national treasure. From the shipyards of the Clydeside to his trailblazing and extraordinary stage and movie exploits, he is woven into Scottish culture.

Everyone has a Billy story. An expert team of story gatherers has created a collection of these moving and hilarious tales. Gary McNair, one of Scotland’s most renowned theatre-makers, has turned these stories into a special show celebrating the Big Yin and what he means to the people of Scotland.

The production will tour in May 2024, opening at His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen before touring to Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow and Eden Court in Inverness with a two-week run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2024.

Dear Billy is a unique touring production that evolved on the road. It travelled the length and breadth of Scotland in 2023, visiting local theatres, arts and community centres gathering stories along the way which were woven into the show as the tour progressed.

Gary McNair is hitting the road once more with two musicians. Audience members are welcomed to share their own Billy stories, with the possibility of those stories making it into the performance. Each show offers a unique chance for audiences to laugh, sing, and celebrate the man and the legend.

Dear Billy is written and performed by leading Scottish theatre-maker Gary McNair whose recent work includes the acclaimed Nae Expectations, a fresh take on the Dickens classic for the Tron Theatre; Ugly! A Cinderella Story for Cumbernauld Theatre Company and a new adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde featuring a solo performance from Forbes Masson which opened at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh in January 2024 before touring.

The production is directed by Joe Douglas whose work for National Theatre of Scotland includes The Cheviot, The Stag and the Black, Black Oil, Dear Scotland and Associate Director for Black Watch. Joe previously collaborated with Gary on McGonagall’s Chronicles (Which Will Be Remembered for a Very Long Time).

Musicians re-joining Gary on the road are Simon Liddell whose work for theatre includes The Domestic (Scenes for Survival/National Theatre of Scotland) and McGonagall’s Chronicles (Which Will Be Remembered for a Very Long Time) and Jill O’Sullivan who writes and performs across the worlds of popular music, theatre and dance.

Billy Connolly, or, the Big Yin, whom this show is dedicated to, is Scotland’s most beloved comedian, with an impressive career as a stand-up, actor, writer and musician spanning more than 50 years. In 2022, Connolly was awarded the BAFTA Fellowship for lifetime achievement. 

Touring to His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen (Thu 16-Sat 18 May); Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow (Wed 22-Sat 25 May); Eden Court, Inverness (Tue 28-Wed 29 May); Quays Theatre, The Lowry, Salford (Sat 1 June); Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh Festival Fringe (Tues 13 – Sun 25 August, no shows on Wednesdays)

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