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Just Start Here Arrives in Dumfries with National Theatre of Scotland

Just Start Here, the National Theatre of Scotland’s pop-up festival of Scottish artists and collaborative performance, returns for its third year in 2020. Taking place in Dumfries on 28 and 29 February, the festival will be presented in collaboration with high street venue and pioneering artistic community organisation The Stove Network.

The two-day festival will feature contributions and new work-in-progress theatre and performance from Dumfries-based Scottish talent, along with live music, discussions, food and drink, and creative happenings throughout the town.

Micro-festival Behavin’? will take over the streets of Dumfries, with artistic happenings in locations throughout the centre and beyond to invite audiences to peer beneath the belly of the town and experience a new kind of experiment with public space.
As well as pop-up performance out on the high street, Just Start Here will take over three spaces in the town: disused shop-front turned gallery space The Oven, local social and working men’s club The Railway Club, and Stove Network HQ The Stove. There will be pop-up performances of Lone Wolves, a new project from artist Katherina Radeva of multi-award-winning theatre company Two Destination Language, as well as a new solo work from award-winning choreographer and performer Mele Broomes.

Dumfriesshire-based musician Stuart Macpherson, filmmaker Emma Dove, and sound recordist Pete Smith present the latest iteration of their Solway to Svalbard project exploring the links between Dumfries and Galloway and the High Arctic.

Just Start Here will also see contributions from artists and groups such as Ashanti Harris, Sue Zuki, //BUZZCUT//, as well as live music performances, provocative talks, discussions and debates led by Nic Green and Stewart Laing on the arts’ relationship to place and community, and how artists can successfully navigate the “gig economy” of the sector.

Just Start Here is a playground for Scottish artists: a space to share and generate ideas, art and provocations, and to spark new collaborations across art-forms as well as offering a curated and supported platform for bold, vital work to find its feet in front of an audience. The festival was first staged in Glasgow in January 2018, and last year took place in Aberdeen in partnership with Citymoves.

Just Start Here is part of Engine Room, the National Theatre of Scotland’s nation-wide programme of artistic development opportunities. Engine Room aims to bring artists together to develop skills, networks and create new work at the greatest reach of their imaginations and ambitions.Engine Room and Just Start Here are supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. Join the conversation: #JustStartHere

Check out the the full line-up below, and click HERE to view the full programme.

Musings Opportunities

Behavin trials a new kind of experiment for Just Start Here 2020

In July of 2019, a micro-festival of performance art, live music and spontaneous creative action took place across the High Street of Dumfries. Set-up to agitate, disrupt, celebrate, poke fun and play, Behavin’ invited performance artists, the local community, musicians and local artists to contribute to a new kind of scene for Dumfries. 2019 featured the world’s smallest music venue, drag performance, Kung Fu master-classes, a band of seagulls, plays in our elevator theatre and a madcap day of extraordinary work from artists throughout Scotland.
And since then, it’s all gone a little bit quiet. The streets have resumed their normal operation of passers-by, people watchers, the school run, lunch- time meetings, chai latte soirees and bank appointments, all this alongside the looming avian threat of a hungry, sausage-roll-loving-seagull. Colloquially known as ‘Rats With Wings’ (also a good name for a death metal band).
Until now.
Behavin’ have been invited to take part in Just Start Here 2020 with the National Theatre of Scotland. And this year, we’re doing just that, starting right at the beginning. Our troupe (if you can call it that) is banding together once again to play, chat, explore ideas and perform, in the very heart of the High Street.
Welcome to Elsewhere, bring a chair.
We don’t know what it will be. We’re sure we’ll be sitting on a chair. We’re sure it might rain. We’re certain it’s in Fountain Square. Something is starting.
With Just Start Here, we’re in the most unique position as local artists to explore, create, start, challenge and expand our creative horizons. And we invite you, our community, our network to start something too. Join us on the 28th and 29th of February and explore how we can start a new kind of creative ambition for Dumfries.
Just Start Here is a two day festival of bold new work, taking over shop-fronts, working men’s clubs and the streets of Dumfries this February. Organised by National Theatre of Scotland, Just Start Here will take place on 28th and 29th of February 2020. Tickets are available now, for details on how to get yours along with the full line please visit the NTS website:
Tickets and General Information
Festival Line Up

Artists Kerry Morrisson and Helmut Lemke perform a durational piece as part of Behavin 2019.

The Salty Coo Procession 2019

From Jordan Chisholm

“Wow! Nithraid 2019, you really were something else. I can’t quite believe I have to let go of you now; your procession has taken up many of my daily thoughts over the past few months.

This year you were unique, a little bit of a chancer, very salty and many of us learnt something new from you whilst asking important questions along the way.

I began to conceive the idea of the Nithraid 2019 procession when I was feeling inspired by what it means to “belong” alongside the want to work with different communities. I hoped for the procession to become a celebration of what Dumfries and Galloway has to offer, whilst creating a space for people to meet and connect with those they haven’t before. It is easy to believe that nothing ever happens here and question what there is to celebrate – but I believe that together we can do so much, so let’s try it.

Throughout June to the end of August, with support from the Blueprint100 team and The Stove Network, we contacted over 100 community groups from Dumfries and Galloway (yes, there really are that many!) encouraging them to make a banner in celebration of who they are, with a hope that they would then walk in our procession and become a part of the day. We had great fun throughout these workshops, and although challenged by the summer holidays, we met many new faces, conversed with people of all ages, heard many fascinating stories and connected with one another in a way that we wouldn’t have been able to before, whilst spreading the word about Nithraid and our Salty Coo.

“Pagan” means belonging or relating to a modern religion that includes beliefs and activities that are not from any of the main religions of the world (for example, the worship of nature). When I discovered this, I was keen to take this idea in to the procession. Imagine what the worship of community could look like. Imagine community as a religion. One which owns its own magic and is inclusive of all. I began to think more about where our beliefs come from, what Dumfries’ beliefs are, rituals and blessings; that is where much of the vision came from.With salt at the heart of this year’s overall Nithraid theme, it felt right to use this material as the source of action for the performers in the procession. Salt has many attributes, including being used for healing and sanctuary. Together, we spread salt throughout the high street in an offering of protection and safety for all our communities. Worshiping the place many of us call home. The 2019 Nithraid procession became a subtle disruption to a normal Saturday morning in Dumfries Town Centre. One which made people look twice as they walked on by. A moving image, a ritual, a blessing, a memory, an ephemeral moment, a discovery, many hearts and one community.

This experience was a huge collaboration from the very beginning to the very end and could not have been made possible without all those involved, including community groups, The Stove Network team, performers, musicians, costume designers, make-up artists, Salty Coo carriers and volunteers. I will never forget it.

Community is about doing something together, that makes belonging matter. We are community.

Here is the salt and here is the coo, let the river have its due,

Here is the salt and here is the coo, let the river have its due,

Here is the salt and here is the coo, let the river have its due.”

Jordan Chisholm is an artist and a current member of the blueprint100 curatorial team.


Behavin’ Festival Programme Announcement!

A DIY micro-festival of performance, live art and music in an upside-down world is coming to Dumfries over the weekend of Friday 26th – Saturday 27th July, held on the High Street, The Stove, The Plaza and the Oven. Behavin’ is about new spaces, new worlds, radical gatherings and new work from the weirdest corners of the mind. In it’s inaugural year, Behavin’ explores play, permission and public space alongside a whole host of weird and wonderful projects and people.

All events and performances are free and open to the public. However, discretionary donations are welcome but by no means mandatory.Full programme below:


Phone Box Poetry
12 – 5pm / Dumfries High Street

The 21stCentury has played witnessed to a revolution in digital communication, yet in its wake has left the humble public telephone in ruin, a phantom of its former self. From the 26th– 27th, keep your ears open for what may well be the voice of the telephone speaking from its ghostly realm. Ring, ring…ring, ring…

To submit your work please contact [email protected]

Press Play by Zoe Pearson
12 – 5pm / The Stove Elevator

An art-gremlin has set up home in the lift of 100 High Street. Each time you press play, the doors will open to a new improvised performance. Featuring spoken word, sounds, drawings, writing, miming, movement, costumes, and… well, who knows what!

Brave New Words: Behavin Spectacular
7pm / The Stove Network
Theme: Behaviour 

For words spoken, sung, signed, shot or silenced. The Stove’s monthly open mic night returns for the inaugural Behavin’ festival opening extravaganza. Expect an evening of scintillatingly scandalous performances from local poets, musicians, filmmakers and performers from ages 8-80. Guest hosted by the spectacular Miss Behavin’. To sign up, arrive prompt for 7PM. Be Brave.

Free / BYOB


Phone Box Poetry
12 – 5pm / Dumfries High Street

The 21stCentury has played witnessed to a revolution in digital communication, yet in its wake has left the humble public telephone in ruin, a phantom of its former self. From the 26th– 27th, keep your ears open for what may well be the voice of the telephone speaking from its ghostly realm. Ring, ring…ring, ring…

To submit your work please contact [email protected]

Press Play by Zoe Pearson
12 – 5pm / The Stove Elevator

An art-gremlin has set up home in the lift of 100 High Street. Each time you press play, the doors will open to a new improvised performance. Featuring spoken word, sounds, drawings, writing, miming, movement, costumes, and… well, who knows what!

Broken Brolly’s by Charnah Watson
12 – 5pm / Dumfries High Street

These broken brolly’s have been among the many unfortunate who have been subject to our dreich Scottish weather. Because of their misfortune they are quite frankly miserable and could do with some cheering up…can you help?

Dumfries Music Conference and The Plaza Presents: The World’s Smallest Music Venue
12 – 5pm / Dumfries High Street

Sit knee-to-knee with some of the finest local and national singer/songwriters in the world’s most intimate acoustic venue – The Plaza.
2 Chairs, 1 performer, 1 audience member, 1 unique experience.

Featuring: Ra, Prussia Snailham, Frozen Shores, Alix Apples and Flew the Arrow

Xing Yi: A Masterclass
12pm / The Stove Network, Room 2
Book your place by clicking HERE.

Xing Yi Quan is classified as one of the Wudang styles of Chinese martial arts. The name of the art translates approximately to “Form-Intention Fist”, or “Shape-Will Fist”

In this introductory masterclass, tutor Felix Waterhouse will take you through all the essentials in this most fascinating and relatively unknown martial art.

Comfortable clothing recommended.

The Accidental Death of An Anarchist by Dario Fo with Mackenzie Claperton
2pm / The Stove Network, Room 2
Book your place by clicking HERE.

‘I ought to warn you that the author of this sick little play, Dario Fo, has the traditional, irrational hatred of the police common to all narrow-minded left-wingers and so I shall, no doubt, be the unwilling butt of endless anti-authoritarian jibes.’ (Inspector Bertozzo, Central Italian Police HQ)

A sharp and hilarious satire on police corruption, The Death of an Anarchist concerns the case of an anarchist railway worker who, in 1969, ‘fell’ to his death from a police headquarters window.

A re-imagining of the classic play by young performance artist and theatre-maker Mackenzie Claperton. Anarchists assemble…

Harm (Less) by Hannah Wright (16+)
4pm /The Stove Network, Room 2
Book your place by clicking HERE.

What do memories weigh?
They can lift you up
They can break you down
They can scatter you
And shatter you into pieces
What is a memory?
Is it truth?

Harm(less) is an immersive and interactive performance, using film and spoken word to explore the topic of sexual assault and memory. Revisiting some of the milestone moments of her life, from that magical first kiss to the ones that are better forgotten,

Hannah explores how trauma affects memories by reflecting on fragments that are scattered throughout her conscious and unconscious mind.

The Behavin Manifesto: A Culinary Calamity
6pm / The Stove Cafe

Join us for dinner and drinks in the Behavin Lounge(Stove Café) and contribute to the Behavin Manifesto: a charter, a symbol and the starting gun of a radical movement in music, live art and theatre for Dumfries. Expect a culinary feast from the frivolous fancies of the resident anarchist chef.

Devine Tension: Intervention
8pm / Venue TBC
Book your place by clicking HERE.

Welcome…to the Haus of Tension.
You’ve been given an exclusive invitation to experience drag in the upside down, with Devine Tension.
‘INTERVENTION!!!’ Is a drag show turned love story, packed with camp visuals, spoken word, lip sync performance & some (sketchy) vocals. Buckle up. It’s going to be a wild ride.

Contains adult themes and strobe lighting.

Dae Somethin’: The Variety Showcase
9pm / The Oven

Dae Somethin’ – The Variety Showcase
Warhol’s Factory? Cabaret Voltaire? They were nothing on Dae Somethin’. A variety night featuring Extinction Rebellion, Steven Seagull & The Reguritators and you…yes, you…dae somethin’.

Sleeping in Space

10pm – 10am

Live out of town? Think you might miss the bus? No worries. We’ve a place for you to lay your weary head. Blueprint100 invite you to come stay in a safe space in the town centre. Get in touch for location details.
Sleeping Space is the first in an on-going calendar of sleepovers igniting conversations around regional transport, town centre living and access to the big events of Dumfries town centre. Lights out!

For more information and to book your space contact: [email protected]
(please note booking is mandatory)

News Project Updates

International Women’s Day at The Stove 2019

This year we were approached by students Bella Green and Candy, to host a day of activity at the Stove to celebrate and acknowledge International Women’s Day. The theme for our event – Wake Up And Love More – was inspired by Kate Tempest’s Tunnel Vision, a song from her latest album Let Them Eat Chaos.

Our programme comprised of banner and placard making workshop, a two week display in the Stove café, an evening of discussion, food and performance and a film screening to close the day. Due to poor weather, we had to put on hold our plans to occupy the High Street, but instead created a warm and welcoming space in the Stove’s café.

Bella Green introducing the evening. Image credit: Kirstin McEwan

On the evening itself, we were joined by Women’s Aid for Nithsdale and the Stewartry, who were able to share with us some of their work in the region over the past 20 years and their current challenges. Performances included poetry and song, and even a short quiz compered by stovie Kirsty Turpie!

Smash the Patriarchy bunting!

Our film choice for the evening was teen drama Skate Kitchen, directed by Crystal Moselle and featuring the story of Camille and the all-girl New York City based skateboarding crew, Skate Kitchen.

All donations from the evening went to Women’s Aid.

Thank you to everyone who helped with the preparations for the event, our performers and speakers. All image credits: Kirstin McEwan

International Women’s Day at the Stove was part of our Conversing Building project, an on-going programme of events and displays in and around the Stove building sharing ideas and projects with wider communities. To find out more email [email protected].

Banners created during our open workshop
Musings News

What we’re looking forward to in 2019!

We’re gearing up for another jam-packed year of exciting events, art and creativity to encourage, gather, educate and bring life back to our town centre so we thought we would share what things we’re exciting about in the year ahead. And, as always, if you’ve got an idea, need some space, advice on starting a project or want to partner with us – we’re here!

So here’s what we’re looking forward to in 2019 – diaries oot!


Our literature projects are all about unwrapping the potential of the written word to provoke and inspire new ways of thinking, and this year the Lowland Project will be taking a dramatic step forward with an ambitious community play. The play will be developed over the course of 2019 and will reflect our town in a transitional phase of its history. Stay tuned for more information, opportunities and events!


SAVE THE DATE: 31st August 2019!

Yes, that’s right – NITHRAID IS BACK! Dumfries’ annual River Festival and sail boat race held in celebration of our beloved River Nith is the biggest event in the Stove calendar and returns to the Mill Green for its SEVENTH year! Nithraid is getting bigger and better with artist commissions, stalls, performances, music, sound installations and art throughout our community, so don’t expect anything less for 2019!

Midsteeple Quarter

The Midsteeple Quarter Project had a brilliant year in 2018, rounding off with the news of the asset transfer of the former Bakers Oven to community ownership. For 2019, they are looking forward to creating an exciting programme of activity in The Oven which includes exhibitions, workshop spaces and events – all open to the public! Programme details will be shared soon, but in the meantime you can keep up to date with their news over on their website here: or by giving them a like on their Facebook page here:

Dumfries Music Conference

After an incredibly successful 2018, the Dumfries Music Conference are back for 2019 with another programme of events for the year, offering people the opportunity to share ideas, learn new skills and make contact with some of the biggest movers and shakers in the industry. As well as their annual flagship conference in October, DMC’s 2019 programme includes ‘DMSHE’ in April – a female takeover month which will showcase the work of women working in the music industry. Expect panel discussions, workshops and a showcase gig – all led by some incredible females working throughout Scotland! #thefutureisfemale

The Stove Café

The Stove Café is the social heart of our social enterprise to bring new life to the town centre through culture and the arts and supporting community activity and career development for local people. This year, we’re looking forward to reimagining the café and making changes to improve on the look and feel of the space (The Stove Café 2.0!). Plans are busy being made at the moment but expect a big launch party in 2019 to celebrate a new era of the Stove Café!


The Stove building is a conversational space to connect with our projects in many ways, and this year we’re planning a ‘Public Space’ Exhibition to provoke discussion and engage everyone who steps into our doors. The Public Space Exhibition will use spaces within the Stove and outdoor public spaces, as well as use creative workshops, participatory activity and conversation events to welcome artists and the community to come together as well as host evening events and discussions located around the Stove and outdoor public spaces. We want artists and the community to come together!


Behavin’? This year we’re excited to be expanding our programme of performance, live art and theatre with an exciting mini festival in the works arriving this summer! To coincide with this, we’re working with the National Theatre of Scotland on the Start Residency. For more details click HERE!

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