Photo credit: Douglas Robertson

Photo credit: Douglas Robertson

Photo credit: Douglas Robertson


Verdant Works, Dundee

March-April 2008

Yarn was a co-production with Dundee Rep, with four performers from the Dundee Rep Ensemble and two from Grid Iron. It was developed over a fourteen-month period and drew upon the politics of clothing, especially the issue of the burka, the history of fabric manufacture, and above all the personal nature of clothes and how they shape us. We were particularly influenced by the work of Louise Bourgeois and her obsession with the spider as spinner and repairer of damage. Texts from Henry James and Thomas Carlyle were interwoven with original writing by Ben Harrison, traditional songs and devised material from the actors.

Yarn was presented in promenade in and around the Verdant Works, a former textile mill in the heart of Dundee. It ended in a vast weaving shed, its roof open to the elements, with a kaleidoscopic race under a gigantic spinning spider through a string of tales associated with clothing from Adam and Eve to a contemporary account of child labour.

Mark Fisher, The Guardian

Rich in ideas, vivid in execution, Yarn forms a delightful fabric that takes time to unravel.

Neil Cooper, The Herald

It’s been interesting watching Grid Iron add an explicitly political dimension to their output over the past couple of years, much of it gleaned from extensive work in the Middle East. . .classic Grid Iron with an edge, ripping through layers of human artifice to get to the heart of the matter. They wear it well, on their sleeves and everywhere else.

Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman

there’s something heroic about Ben Harrison’s Grid Iron company, and their sustained attempt- via site-specific shows- to explore the world of true sensual delight and passion. . .Yarn is a wholly charming series of reflections on the role of clothes and fabrics in human history, sexuality and identity. . .what’s attractive about Yarn is its imaginative attempt to engage with Dundee as a textile town, to evoke a deeper understanding of its past. It also features a bracing sense of internationalism. And it has a gloriously eclectic finale, co-staged with Janet Smith of Scottish Dance Theatre, that races like a thing possessed through an eccentric world history of cloth and its abuses. . .glamorous, allusive, thought-provoking.

View From The Stalls blog

Ben Harrison’s direction and incredible technical team ensure that like ‘Roam’ before it, Yarn is one of those rare productions which hits the balance between being entertaining and thought-provoking just right.

Alan Chadwick, The Metro

Grid Iron delivers an impressive array of narrative threads with which to weave together its stories.

Evening Telegraph and Post

Each superb soliloquy casts light on a memory- or experience- involving a garment, releasing feelings of anger, envy, regret, lust. . .the diverse politics of clothes is a major thread throughout incorporating the use of clever puppetry. This is an outstanding production, delivered by a brilliant cast. . .the audience is lead seamlessly, an ongoing fascination holding the pieces together generating a truly unforgettable theatrical experience Dundee audiences should grab with both hands.