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Poisoned Arrows on target for success

Poisoned Arrows storyteller Dr Kelone Khudu-Petersen © Marian Grime
"As well as giving fascinating historical insight into life on an African expedition, Poisoned Arrows shows how many of the plants collected by these pioneers are still vitally important to Africans today.

Drama, history and botany are cleverly interwoven in Poisoned Arrows, a new ambitious production to mark the bicentenary of famous Scots explorer David Livingstone.

On Saturday and Sunday 26 and 27 October 2013, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) will host the unique walking storytelling event through its spectacular Glasshouses.

With a cast of four actors/storytellers hailing from Scotland and Botswana, audiences will be taken on a journey back through time to meet John Kirk – Livingstone’s botanist and other characters affected by his work and legacy.

Inspired by archive collections of the correspondence between Kirk and the RBGE’s Regius Keeper (Director) at the time John Hutton Balfour, as well as the bicentenary of David Livingstone’s birth, Director of the Scottish Storytelling Centre, Donald Smith has devised an original script for these special performances.

Ian Edwards, Head of Events and Exhibitions at RBGE, explained: "From the archive of the RBGE we have discovered correspondence that provides a fascinating insight into the perilous state of central Africa in the mid nineteenth century when slave trading had set one community against another. John Kirk a young Scottish botanist found himself caught in the crossfire between warring groups and his letters reveal more about these inter-tribal relations than the plants he found on his expeditions."’

The audience will enjoy a bustling welcome from John Hutton Balfour in the Palm House, which was built under his leadership. They will hear astonishing tales of Livingstone and Kirk’s Zambezi expedition in the Orchid House – complete with fever, leaking boats, shooting elephants, slave raids and of course poisoned arrows. Enjoy conversations about fair trade amongst our banana and cocoa plants in the Plants and People House and be captivated by stories of the Tree of Life in the Arid House.

The RBGE horticulture team has teamed up with a Scottish-Malawian collaboration, JANEEMO, who work with households in Malawi to grow their permaculture skills in order to improve nutrition and food security, restore the environment and adapt to a changing climate.

Thanks to seeds donated by JANEEMO they have been able to add to the Garden’s collection of plants with key food crops such as castor bean, red lima bean, arrowroot, blackjack, zumba and luffa. Grant Davidson of the James Hutton Institute, JANEEMO project director, said: "As well as giving fascinating historical insight into life on an African expedition, Poisoned Arrows shows how many of the plants collected by these pioneers are still vitally important to Africans today."

The National Library of Scotland will be hosting a special free preview of Poisoned Arrows to coincide with their exhibition Picturing Africa: Illustrating Livingstone’s Travels (which runs until 3 November). This ticketed preview will take place on Thursday 24 October from 2.30pm to 3.30pm (ticket reservations on 0131 623 3734 / and will display one of John Kirk’s original letters to John Hutton Balfour, which will be loaned from RBGE for the day along with a small number of contemporary photographs and botanic sketches selected from Kirk’s personal papers at the National Library of Scotland.

Poisoned Arrows will be one of the highlights of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival 2013, and has been made possible thanks to support from David Livingstone 200. The event is free with glasshouse admission charge and full details can be found on the Poisoned Arrows event page.

More information from: Sandra Donnelly (Tel. 0131 248 1037) or Shauna Hay (Tel. 0131 248 2900) at RBGE.

Notes to editors

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), dating back to1670, is a Non Departmental Public Body established under the National Heritage (Scotland) Act 1985, principally funded by the Scottish Government. It is also a registered charity, managed by a Board of Trustees appointed by Ministers. Its mission is “exploring and explaining the world of plants for a better future” and its primary functions are as a centre of scientific and horticultural excellence, keeper of the national collections and promoter of science in the public domain. More information

The Scottish International Storytelling Festival is funded by the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund, Creative Scotland and the City of Edinburgh Council. It is hosted and organised by the Scottish Storytelling Centre, the national body for the support and development of the storytelling artform. The organisation is a partnership between the Scottish Storytelling Forum (SC020891) and the Church of Scotland (SCO11353), and is supported by Creative Scotland, the City of Edinburgh Council and a wide range of charitable donations. More information

JANEEMO is an agroforestry and permaculture programme in the Lilongwe and Dowa districts of Malawi, bringing food diversity and security to thousands of smallholder farmers. It is managed by the James Hutton Institute and Climate Futures in Scotland, and the Kusamala Institute of Agriculture and Ecology in Malawi, and funded by the Scottish Government’s International Development programme. JANEEMO is promoting alternative crops to diversify from the traditional staple, maize, and agroforestry and natural farming techniques to improve soils, adapt to climate change and produce timber and other tree products. More information

The National Library of Scotland is a major European research library and one of the world's leading centres for the study of Scotland and the Scots - an information treasure trove for Scotland's knowledge, history and culture. More information

More information from: 

Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).

Printed from /news/poisoned-arrows-target-success on 15/08/20 05:12:27 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.