Talking Sheep

“Mind to be kind to ane anither.”

Talking Sheep develops and performs fun, entertaining shows that educate, question and engage. We have a special interest in exploring the culture and heritage of Scotland.

Burns and Hafez – Bards Apart?

Next Perfomance: Sunday 19 August. The Nomads Tent, 21 St Leonards Lane, Edinburgh. 6:30. Tickets here.

Separated by four centuries and over 4000 miles, by culture, by history, by religion, by language. Burns and Hafez can’t really have anything in common – can they?

The key poems and songs of the two Bards are performed – sung, recited, acted – accompanied by Santoor, Guitar and Bass, together with a bit of context and discussion. For those who don’t understand Persian – or 18th century Scots – we have English Subtitles!

Are Burns and Hafez “Bards Apart” or have they got far more in common than that which divides? You – the audience- will decide!

What they Said About Burns and Hafez – Bards Apart?

Areej Malik from The New Normal thought the show was “Outstanding” “captivating” and “didn’t want it to stop”. Read the whole article.

The show premiered to a capacity crowd as part of the Edinburgh Iranian Festival 2017 – comments included:



“Fantastic performance.”

“Such love and enthusiasm.”

“A wonderful combination of poetry & music.”

“Funny, thought provoking and moving.”

“It was just wonderful! It made me cry.”

Burns for Beginners

“The show about Burns that Burns would want to see!”

The show about Burns that really is for everyone – absolute beginners, lifelong fans and everyone in-between. Burns’ key poems and songs are performed to a cracking live musical accompaniment, along with discussion, context and English Subtitles – SO YOU’LL ALWAYS KNOW WHAT THE BARD’S ON ABOOT!

Audience feedback from our sell-out shows in Tradfest, BurnsFest and the Edinburgh Fringe said the show was:

“Brilliant, inspiring”
“Funny and informative”
“Explained clearly and passionately – and suitable for all ages.”

Burns for Beginners includes:

Poems: To a Mouse, Holy Willie’s Prayer, and Tam O’Shanter, and Songs: You’re Welcome Willie Stewart, Green Grow the Rashes, Charley He’s my Darling, The Lea Rig, Ae Fond Kiss, The Condensed Jolly Beggars, A Mans A Man, and Auld Lang Syne.

Why we do Burns for Beginners

Burns in a book is but half a Burns!

Burns is a poet who really comes alive in performance – a poet for pubs, clubs and theatres, and as a songwriter, obviously, he has to be heard to be fully appreciated.
There hasn’t been a poet before or since that spoke to an audience with such immediacy, who was more accessible or just so much fun as Robert Burns.

Nowadays though, the Scots language and some of the 18th century references can get in the way of a full appreciation. We made Burns for Beginners so that everyone could enjoy Burns. We’re really happy that the show seems to be enjoyed by lifelong Burn fans, folk who have come along knowing absolutely nothing about Burns and everyone in-between. Burns wanted to be a poet for everyone – from parson to ploughman – and we want Burns for Beginners to be for everyone too.

What they Said About Burns for Beginners

Folk have been very kind! Feedback from the sell-out shows in Tradfest, BurnsFest and the Edinburgh Fringe included comments like :

“Funny and informative”

“Delivery was amazing”

“Excellent Acting”

“Loved Tam O’Shanter”

“Brilliant night, as a non Scot found it really interesting.”

“Superb. A must, especially for Scots”

“The singer sang the songs so beautifully.”

“Fun witty informative and stimulating.”

“Great fun and very educational. An antidote to all those sycophantic Burns nights.”

“Explained clearly and passionately and suitable for all ages.”

“I’ve never heard Tam o’ Shanter recited with such passion”

“Epitomises what the Fringe should be about.”

Dark City

Dark City tells two big tales from Edinburgh’s murky past (Burke and Hare and Major Weir) and a new, contemporary story that tells of a particularly modern horror. There’s also a couple of shorter tales which are, perhaps, slightly less historically verifiable! Funny, interesting and absolutely terrifying Dark City will introduce the audience to some key themes from our history and address some perennial concerns.

Performance scheduled for November 2018 – more details to follow.

Upcoming Gigs

 Sunday 19 August – Burns and Hafez

The Nomads Tent, 21 St Leonards Lane Edinburgh 6:30

November 2018 – Dark City

Past Gigs

Burns for Beginners

5 May 2017, Tradfest, Edinburgh, Augustine Church Theatre.
22 August 2016, Edinburgh Festival Fringe Netherbow Theatre, The Scottish Storytelling Centre.
15 August, Edinburgh Festival Fringe Netherbow Theatre, The Scottish Storytelling Centre.
22 January, 2016, Edinburgh BurnsFest, Netherbow Theatre, The Scottish Storytelling Centre.
12 June 2015, Glasgow , Glad Café.
24 January 2015, Edinburgh BurnsFest, Netherbow Theatre, The Scottish Storytelling Centre.
23 August 2014, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Acoustic Music Centre@St Brides.
22 August 2014, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Acoustic Music Centre@St Brides.
15 August 2014, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Acoustic Music Centre@St Brides.
2 May 2014, Tradfest, Edinburgh, Voodoo Rooms.
24 Jan 2014, Edinburgh, Voodoo Rooms.

Burns and Hafez

21 March 2018, London, Victoria and Albert Museum.
13 December 2017, London, Brunei Theatre, SOAS.
25 October 2017, St Andrews, Byre Theatre.
12 February 2017, Edinburgh Iran Festival, Nomads Tent.

About Us

Mark Meiklejohn (Performer, Writer)

is the writer of Burns for Beginners, Dark City and Burns and Hafez, developing the shows in collaboration with members and associates.

Mark Percival (Performer, Musician)

plays bass, guitar and contributes spoken word in Burns For Beginners. He has played in his bands and others over the years and has collaborated with others including performance and recording of songs by, and with musician / writer / director, Cora Bissett. In past lives, Mark P has also been a DJ and promoter of gigs at indie venues in Glasgow, and has been a broadcaster with BBC Radio Scotland.

Valerie Sim (Performer, Musician)

sings, plays guitar and does poems in Burns for Beginners.

Fiona Watt (Publicity and Technical Support)

has achieved record sell out shows for Talking Sheep Productions. She is a founder member of Girls Rock School Edinburgh (teaching vocals and performance) and is active in many Edinburgh choirs including the UK’s largest community choir, Love Music Community Choir, experimental art-house noiseniks Rhubaba Choir and political rabble- rousers The Megaphone Choir.

Manijeh Zargar (Performer)

is an Iranian based in Edinburgh, teaching Farsi while studying for her Masters in Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies. She has a passion for poetry – especially Persian poetry.

Lucy Deacon (Performer)

is an MSc student in Persian Civilisation at the University Of Edinburgh and has a research interest in the Persian theatre form ta’ziyeh. She previously worked in contemporary circus for 15 years, performing in many cross art form productions fusing aerial acrobatics with physical theatre, sculpture and dance.

Parmis Mozafari (Musician)

is a Santoor player and an ethnomusicologist. She did her BA and MA studies in Iran and received her PhD from the University of Leeds. Her research interests include female performers, mystic music, and the music of minorities in Iran and the Middle East. She also plays Daf and Tombak and has taught and performed in Iran and in the UK.

Saeed Talajooy (Performer)

is Lecturer in Persian and Comparative Literature at the University of St Andrews. His main research interests are Persian poetry and Iranian drama and his hobbies include writing poetry and singing.

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