THE 'STEVENSON IN SITU' PROJECT VIDEOS

The further we travel with the Robert Louis Stevenson Show, the more we find ourselves in places where RLS was there before us. In New Zealand, and of course, in Scotland, so many lighthouses were built by members of his family: in Samoa, the home he and Fanny built, Vailima: in Paris, where he came as a 20 year old, in the Cevennes where he travelled famously with Modestine. And that of course makes no mention of Edinburgh, with the magnificent family home in Heriot Row, in the magnificent old New Town.

Suddenly, it became clear that here was another way to give his writings another life, and Judy and I began to record ourselves reading, playing, singing and reciting excerpts from his writings in the places where he had been. These videos reflect our ongoing interest in RLS and the fun we have in chasing him around the globe.

We have recorded ourselves singing his songs, reciting his poetry, and reading excerpts from his books and letters, in the venues that inspired them.

All music by Neil Adam.

THE VIDEOS

REQUIEM

 

At the 25th. Anniversary Celebrations of the opening of the Stevenson family home 'Vailima', Samoa, as a museum, we learned from the staff there the Samoan version of Stevenson's famous poem 'Requiem'. One short rehearsal, and that was that. Notice the increasing confidence of us all as the song proceeds into Samoan! A beautiful experience, and lovely singing from them all.

I WILL MAKE YOU BROOCHES

 

RLS wrote this poem at the time Fanny and he were engaged in building Vailima, some time around 1887. They had been living in a tent for almost two years, as the house was not yet habitable, and Fanny had understandably just about had enough! Louis wrote this beautiful poem to help her see things more positively. We perform the song downstairs in the living room at Vailima, and some of their family photographs of the home as it was are included. Thanks to the staff and board of Vailima for allowing us this unique opportunity.

SAY NOT OF ME

 

Louis wrote this poem at a time when he felt that his own work - writing - was a pretty childish endeavour in comparison with that of his father's family - lighthouse building. We recorded it on Holy Isle, off the Scottish west coast island of Arran, standing beside the Stevenson family's Pillar Rock Lighthouse  and sharing the place with wild horses and a boat fishing for lobsters behind us. This is one of our favourite Louis poems.

I SHALL BE GLAD

In 1893, Louis wrote a letter to his friend Charles Baxter where he basically says he will be proud to meet up with his family in the afterlife. It is a beautifully poetic piece of writing, here put to music by us and performed on the upstairs verandah at Vailima, the Stevenson home in Samoa. It was a moving experience to perform there, in the place where Stevenson wrote these words.

THE LAND OF COUNTERPANE

 

One of the best loved poems from A Child's Garden of Verses (1895), Louis remembers childhood days spent sick in bed playing with his toy soldiers. Set to music by us, and performed here in the beautiful drawing room at the Stevenson family Edinburgh home in Heriot Row, in the New Town. Thanks to the MacFie family for allowing us to record in their family home.

THOUSANDS AND MILLIONS OF STARS

 

This poem, from A Child's Garden of Verses (1885), published as 'Escape at Bedtime', is a memory of Louis escaping from his family at bedtime to stare out at the stars in the night sky. Sung here in the upstairs drawing room in Heriot Row, a room with very large windows ideal for star gazing on a dark night.

RUE RACINE, PARIS : 'THE WRECKER'

 

RLS spent some time as a young arty type, living with his cousin Bob, an aspiring artist, in a down-at-heel hotel in Rue Racine, in the Paris 6e. He returned to his memories of that time years later in Samoa, in his novel 'The Wrecker', as he described a young American trying to establish himself as an artist in Paris. This excerpt was recorded in Rue Racine opposite the hotel.

SAY NOT OF ME

 

RLS wrote this poem on his first return to Scotland from the States. He expresses his worries about the point of writing as a profession, in comparison with the family business of building lighthouses. He hopes his family will come to see the value in his chosen career. Again, sung in the drawing room of beautiful old Stevenson family home in Heriot Row, Edinburgh.

LORD TEACH US

The first in a series of our song settings of Stevenson's 'Vailima Prayers', prose writings he wrote for prayer meetings at Vailima, Samoa. This prayer celebrates the Samoan natural environment, and asks humans to consider it carefully, and to learn lessons from nature to apply to our dealings with each other, a message even more pertinent today than when it was written in 1891. Sung in the forest on the edge of Mt. Vaia at Vailima, Samoa.

HOLD US

Another in the 'Vailima Prayers' series, written by RLS in Samoa for the weekly prayer meetings held at the family home for the local people and extended Vailima family. 

Performed here in song form in the very place where the prayer meetings were held. 

In fondest memory of Colin Simpson, who passed away the week I was working on this. For everyone who knew him. This week, I read this prayer as a message about how to manage suffering.

There are more In Situ videos to come