l PERTH Festival of the Arts has announced early details about this year's event, which will run from May 16-23.

Leading the musical line-up is Van Morrison, who plays Perth Concert Hall on May 22. Another music legend, Sir James Galway, will perform Mozart's Flute Concerto alongside the English Chamber Orchestra at the festival's Opening Concert on May 19, while other highlights include Jools Holland And His Rhythm And Blues Orchestra, The Sixteen and Moscow State Symphony Orchestra.

Perth regulars English Touring Opera return with three new productions that focus on storytelling through bel canto: Donizetti's The Siege Of Calais, Verdi's Simon Boccanegra and a period production of Mozart's Cosi fan tutte.

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Elsewhere in the programme, London Classic Theatre relishes the wit and wisdom in Oscar Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest, and Perth Museum and Art Gallery plays host to an exhibition by members of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolours entitled A Sense Of Place: New & Innovative Responses To Perth And Kinross.

Now in its 42nd year, the festival plans to release more programme details over the coming weeks, with tickets going on sale on March 25.


l BIRDS Of Paradise (BoP) theatre company returns to the road in February with its new production, In An Alien Landscape by Danny Start. The play was first developed by BoP in conjunction with Playwrights' Studio Scotland when the Liverpool writer undertook a residency with the company.

In An Alien Landscape examines the world of brain injury, memory, consciousness and creativity as it follows Albie, an ordinary man who can't stop painting since he emerged from a coma. Paul Cunningham stars as Albie, and the cast also features actors Morag Stark and David Toole (who recently performed as part of the Paralympic Opening Ceremony). Julie Ellen directs, with design by Kenny Miller and music by Ross Brown.

The play opens at The Beacon in Greenock on February 1 and ends its nine-date tour at Paisley Arts Centre on February 26.


l ORAN Mor's A Play, A Pie And A Pint series of lunchtime plays has been named Producer of the Year at The Stage 100 Awards. The awards, given out annually by industry publication The Stage, will be presented at their New Year Party, to be held at the New London Theatre on January 25.