The Martyn Bennett Story - GRIT

The Martyn Bennett Story - GRIT


Pachamama presents The Martyn Bennett Story - GRIT

An ambitious new cross-form, Scots-Canadian site specific production based on the inspiring life and music of one of Scotland's most innovative, pioneering and influential musicians; the tragically late Martyn Bennett. Directed by multi-award winning director Cora Bissett (Olivier award winning RoadKill, Creative Scotland award winning 'Whatever gets You through the Night' and bold new political musical 'Glasgow Girls'.)

Reflecting Martyn's own Scots-Canadian heritage, The Martyn Bennett Story "GRIT" will be an exciting International collaboration with Canada's renowned choreographer Dana Gringas (of 'Animals of Distinction') and some of Canada’s finest circus artists who will both work alongside an ensemble of Scotland's  dance and aerial artists, actors, live folk singers, and classical musicians, whilst of course featuring Martyn's groundbreaking dance music in it's original form.

This production will tell the painful yet inspiring story of a young man's phenomenal musical imagination, and his fierce fight against the cancer which ultimately robbed him of his short life at 33. His passion, his fierce love of life, music, the country and people who inspired his ground breaking creations are evoked and explored visually, physically and immersively in this highly ambitious musical adventure.

"It's not how long you live, it's what you do with the time you've got"

The Commonwealth Fund is a phenomenal opportunity to promote Scotland’s modern and vibrant culture at home and on the world stage and to celebrate our place in the Commonwealth. The story of Martyn, and the work he left to us, encapsulates the traditional and the modern aspects of Scottish and Scots-Canadian culture. He himself is a product of the Scottish diaspora in Canada.

The way in which he was influenced by and treated with such care the folk singers he knew, both Gaelic and Roma how he embedded their ancient songs in a blisteringly new form was at the very core of his being.

Born in Canada to Scottish parents, an eminent folk singing mother, Margaret Bennet, and brought up in Skye then Glasgow from the age of six, Martyn Bennett always had music and the songs of travelling within his soul. The music he was surrounded by in his birthplace in Newfoundland having a profound effect on his early development.

Martyn won a scholarship to train at the RSAMD where he became highly revered classical violinist and pianist. His secret love however was dance music. Embracing both the roots of his own ancient Gaelic culture, he felt just as connected to the burgeoning new dance scene gripping the era. He experimented with bringing the 2 together and created some of the most innovative fusions of folk song, pipes, classical violin and hardcore dance beats to a whole new audience.

"in 1994 the ‘Summer of Love’ was in full swing. There were some fantastic sessions and underground stuff going on (anyone in Edinburgh at that time will remember Friday nights at Squid, Sativa, Slam or Club Latino and Mondays at Black Bo’s and Legends). I was really blown away by some of the DJ sets I heard and started to think about how I could get involved with that kind of music. I think for a classically trained composer, the dance world is such an attractive place as it encapsulates the same musical ethos. It is principally about sound and scale, tension and release, power and detail - much like the orchestral canvas perhaps. It is no wonder that many of us end up composing using technology. "

As well as experiencing the story of an extraordinarily talented and passionate and determined young man's life, audiences will SEE it, witness music through their eyes, ears, through their guts and their hearts.

Many people who live with cancer have come to take it as a kind of spiritual test. Having been diagnosed with cancer three times now, it has forced me to reflect the need to make changes to my life. I do believe that everything put across one's path has been put there to nurture you spiritually, and your job is to be open to change and listen to the guiding voice. The voice of that emissary can sometimes ask you to do some pretty brave U- turns.

Life is short, sometimes the world around is is too much to take in. We can learn from Martyn's intense appreciation of the beauty and riches around him. His widow Kirsten comments that when they would watch sunset together, he would say, do you see it? but do you REALLY see it, do you see and feel every colour in it?

Dana Gingras, Cora Bissett & Kieran Hurley

The production will take place in two locations... The Tramway in Glasgow and Mull Theatre. Martyn was influenced as much by the Scottish landscape of Skye and Mull as he was by the city where he studied and learned his dance music. We are looking to hold two big events on separate weekends. One in Glasgow, then a full weekend trip to Mull, where Martyn spent his last years. Taking inspiration from such groundbreaking work as Argentinia's 'Fuerza Bruta'' which merged circus skill and dance music so fiercely and innovatively, but also at the core of this piece is a heart aching and detailed story of one man; his loves, his family, his music, his fight.

Dates for The Martyn Bennett Story

Tramway | 3 June - 7 June 2014 : Website - The Tramway
Druimfin, Mull | 20 - 22 June 2014 : Website - Mull Theatre

GRIT will be complemented by a mini-music festival of artists inspired by Martyn’s work at An Tobar on Mull: 19-22 June.


Cora Bissett - Director

Kieran Hurley - Writer

Andrew Watson - Acrobatic Director (Canada)

Dana Gringas - Choreographer (Canada)

Jess Worall - Costume Design & Wardrobe

Kai Fischer - Set & LX Designer

Kim Beveridge - AV Design


Sandy Grierson – Martyn Bennett

Hannah Donaldson – Kirsten Bennett

Gerda Stevenson – Margaret Bennett


Shay Kuebler, Guilia Montalbano, Ruth Mills

Trapeze Artist Maxime Yelle

Pole Artist Steve Ryan


David McDonald - Producer Pachamama

Richard Jordan - International Producer

John Wilkie - Production Manager

Tim Nunn – Artistic Director (Tramway)

Alasdair McCrone – Artistic Director (Mull)

Caroline Winn - Chief Executive Mull

Garry Boyle - Sound Design and Engineering

Sarah Scarlett - Stage Manager (on Book)

Dougal Gudim – Assistant Stage Manager

Malcolm Rogan - Production Electrician

Kate Lawrence - Vertical Dance Advisor

BJ Stewart - Photographer


The Tramway
Richard Jordan Productions
Mull Theatre
Canadian Embassy