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  • Biographies

    charles.nowosielskiCharles was born in Edinburgh to a Polish father and Scottish mother and was educated at George Heriot’s school. He trained for the theatre at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and gained his membership to the profession with the New Shakespeare Company at Regent’s Park with whom he toured the UK, India and Sri Lanka.


    As an actor Charlie worked all over the UK perhaps most notably at the Roundhouse with Zoe Wanemaker and Jeremy Irons and at the Royal Court with Paul Nicholas and Warren Clarke under Richard O Brien and Nicholas Wright.

    Returning to his native Scotland he worked in all the major theatres and it was in one of them, Dundee Rep, that he was invited to direct a series of short Scottish works, most importantly, SOMETHING IN IT FOR CORDELIA by Joan Ure.

    This work ,and others of a similar ilk, led Charlie to form the Netherbow Players. This led to the eventual formation of Theatre Alba, a company dedicated to new work in the Scots tongue with intrinsic use of live original music and interpretative movement; concerned with mysticism, oral tradition and an exploration of the essence of Scottishness.


    After a brief spell as Artistic Director at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast he returned to continue his work in the nation of Scotland. He initiated the formation of MPR Theatre Studio based in Musselburgh. He has directed some 100 professional productions and while people will vary in their opinions, he considers his best to be THE PUDDOCK AND THE PRINCESS and THE LASS WI THE MUCKLE MOU for Theatre Alba, ST. JOAN and THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK for the Brunton Theatre, ARMS AND THE MAN and HAMLET for the Lyric Theatre, Belfast. The zenith of his career to date was a highly controversial production of THE BRUCE for Frank Dunlop at the Edinburgh International Festival.

    richard cherns photo Almost entirely self-taught, Richard was the first Musical Director of THEATRE WORKSHOP, Edinburgh. He subsequently worked with theatre and dance and played with folk and rock bands (including Finn MacCuill / Medium Wave Band), also teaching and performing as a solo guitarist.


    From 1981-86 he played keyboards for the Gaelic rock band RUNRIG and also in 1981 co-founded THEATRE ALBA with Charlie Nowosielski. He wrote or directed the music for all – bar one – of Theatre Alba’s productions while their reputation was being established before and during the heady days of Arts Council funding, and all but a few of the adult Edinburgh Fringe productions since.


    The main use of music, in the unique style for which Theatre Alba was known, was to complement Charlie’s remarkable flair for visual expression with music interwoven to support both text and subtext. Press response varied from: “the most gifted musical director in Scotland” to “hauntingly beautiful”, “mystical, magical”, and “[music]…which wafts under scenes like incense for the ears”.


    He worked with Charlie for five years from 1986 as resident composer/MD at the BRUNTON THEATRE and, likewise, at the LYRIC THEATRE in Belfast 1991-93, where the Ulster Newsletter kindly accorded him this surprising accolade: “Richard Cherns joins the ranks of eminent composers who have supplied incidental music, his more suited to our time, evocative and integral”, an endorsement gratefully received but which he doesn’t expect to be repeated.


    Since then he has continued to work as composer, arranger and performer with other companies (e.g. Fifth Estate, Tant x Tant Barcelona, Steven Mc Nicoll & Mark McDonnell), and artists (e.g. Donald Black, Fiona Kennedy), and a little for film (Icarus at NFTS, Ghost Dancer – McTaggart Award 1993) and exhibitions. “Fields of the Young” which he co-wrote with Donnie Munro, was first heard in Theatre Alba’s “The Wallace”, but is now a touring favourite with Donnie’s band. Some of Richard’s music is now in the Scottish Theatre Archive, and he plans to record two CDs of his music for theatre before too long.

    clunie mackenzieTrained in Edinburgh and has been in numerous Theatre Alba productions throughout her professional career, including ‘Tamlane’, ‘The Shepherd Beguiled’ and ‘The Cauldron’

    She has performed at the Brunton Theatre, toured throughout Scotland and has also worked in Film, Radio, and TV.


    She authored and directed several plays for children produced by Theatre Alba, including the Quest Trilogy: THE MAGIC QUEST, THE ENCHAUNTIT GAIRDEN, TIME GAIRDEN, FAIR, BROWN AND TREMBLING, GARDEN O’ DELIGHT.

    john sampson composer musicianBorn in Dunfermline and studied at Napier University. Musician, composer and professional actor. John has worked extensively as a Composer/Musical Director for Radio 4.


    He is an accomplished performer on a number of musical instruments and has worked with Wildcat, Communicado, Winged Horse, Pen Name, the Traverse, the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Theatre Workshop, the Tron and Red Ladder Theatre Company.


    Credits include: Scarlatti’s Revenge and Scarlatti’s Birthday Party (Natural Theatre of Bath). TV credits include John Brown’s Body (Channel 4), The Big Picnic (BBC 2), Rab C. Nesbit and The Baldy Man. Previous appearances at the Edinburgh Festival include THE BRUCE, GOOD and THE SATIRE OF THE FOURTH ESTATE.


    He appeared as Diligence in a highly successful production of ANE SATYRE OF THE THRIE ESTAITIS in Cupar, acting and playing a variety of instruments. He appeared as musical performer in early Theatre Alba productions of TAMLANE and THE SHEPHERD BEGUILED.


    More recently, he has been composer, instrumentalist and Musical Director for Alba productions such as THE ENCHAUNTIT GAIRDEN, TIME GAIRDEN, THE MAGIC QUEST, TO THE CROSS, CHARLES EDWARD STUART, THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM and THE QUEST FOR EXCALIBUR.

    He currently tours with Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy in ” The Princess’ Blankets “, a show with poetry and music for family audiences.

    Helen Cuinn HeadshotHelen Cuinn is a Glasgow based actor and director. Originally starting her career as a children’s entertainer, Helen went on to train in directing and performance at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now RCS) and has had work shown at the Arches, the Centre for Contemporary Art, the Market Gallery (Glasgow), Manchester’s Greenroom, Coachwerks festival in Brighton.  Her show Hair I Am was selected to be the programme/poster image for Glasgay festival 2009. She is currently a core member of the tidy carnage theatre collective (
    Helen is delighted to be returning to Theatre Alba for this season of Scottish works – especially to work on this Joan Ure play and bring her gentle brand of feminism to a new audience.

    Anne Lannan

    It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Anne Lannan who was a leading figure in the history of  Theatre Alba and at her home theatre of  The Brunton in Musselburgh.


    Anne Lannan and Robin Begg in the cauldronHer three great successes at The Brunton  and later touring with Theatre Alba, were as “Alba” ( pictured left with the late Robin Begg as Halflin) in The Cauldron by Edwin Stiven ,

    the original Morag in The Puddok And The Princess by the late David Purves and

    as Olga in The Thrie Sisters also adapted by David Purves.


    This quotation from a review of The Cauldron, by Mary Brennan, in the Glasgow Herald April 2nd 1988 reflects in small part, her stage presence, acting talents, accomplishments and facility with Scots language.


    Referring to Edwin Stiven’s writing,  ” (the company) allow his poetic use of Scots language the vitality and passion it deserves, none more so than Anne Lannan as the Celtic Goddess, Alba. … An Alba is the spirit of the land, crying out for a champion to make peace prevail, sentiments that Stiven moulds into thrillingly lovely Scots verse and which Anne Lannan pours out with an unselfconscious intensity. “quest01


    Anne’s artistic collaboration with Charles Nowosielski was particularly fruitful.

    Latterly, she became the energetic and inspirational artistic leader at Tynepark Resource Centre Haddington.


    She is pictured right in a Fringe production of ” The Magic Quest”at Duddingston Kirk Gardens.

    Anne will be sadly missed by friends, family, colleagues and many in the theatre world, .