It promises to be "the speak of the Mearns". A new recital celebrating the life of Lewis Grassic Gibbon, who wrote the classic trilogy A Scots Quair, will hold its premiere next month at the centre dedicated to the author.

The performance will star Vivien Heilbron, the actress who gained fame playing the part of Chris Guthrie in the BBC version of Sunset Song. Her partner, David Rintoul, will play the novelist.

The show, which has been written by Jack Webster, the former writer and columnist with The Herald, is being held on August 19 at the Grassic Gibbon Centre, the one-time parish hall in the author's home village of Arbuthnott, Kincardineshire, which was opened as a visitor centre in 1992.

The audience will include Grassic Gibbon's daughter, Rhea Martin, who was only four when her father, whose real name was James Leslie Mitchell, died shortly before his 34th birthday.

Mr Webster said: "I have long intended to put Grassic Gibbon on stage, giving him the chance to speak for himself. I am surprised that nobody has ever thought of this before.

"When I first encountered his work as a teenager, he opened my eyes and ears to the sights of my native land and rhythms of its language.

"I have always been intrigued by Grassic Gibbon. He lived a tragically short life and only had a brief few years of writing.

"He was being hailed as a great Scottish writer and then all of a sudden it was over. I still think he is the greatest Scottish prose writer."

The recital will tell of the life of Grassic Gibbon, who worked as a journalist before joining the Royal Army Service Corps and then the RAF, serving in the Middle East.

He became a professional writer in 1929 and produced 17 full-length books before his death.

The script includes text taken from Grassic Gibbon's works merged with dialogue by Jack Webster, who years ago got to know the author's widow, his brother and his former headmaster.

Vivien Heilbron will play the narrator. David Rintoul, who is in the hit musical Dirty Dancing in London's West End, will travel north for one day only to appear on stage.

The recital will then be shown at His Majesty's Theatre in Aberdeen in March. A different actor will play the part of the author, as David Rintoul is contracted to the London musical until autumn of next year.

Vivien Heilbron said she was "thrilled" to be involved in the production, entitled An Evening with Grassic Gibbon, which comes more than three decades after she played the part of Guthrie on TV.

"The television programme was quite instrumental in raising Gibbon's publicity," she said. "It put him on the school curriculum where he had not been before.

"It is always great to revisit things in a different way but who would have thought that years later I would still be involved," she said.

"Grassic Gibbon wrote like an angel. His description of landscapes and his understanding of human character, both male and female, was wonderful. The only sad thing is that he died very young. Goodness knows what else he would have gone on to write."

Sunset Song, which tells the story of Guthrie's life as she grew up in a farming community in the Mearns, in the north-east of Scotland, was voted Scotland's favourite book in a poll of 5000 readers announced at the Edinburgh International Book Festival two years ago.

The book beat competition from Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting, Alasdair Gray's Lanark, Muriel Spark's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and James Hogg's The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner to win the accolade. A Life Too Short Lewis Grassic Gibbon was born James Leslie Mitchell in 1901. Sunset Song, the first of the trilogy A Scots Quair, was published in 1932. Cloud Howe followed in 1933 and Grey Granite in 1934. He died of peritonitis six days before his 34th birthday, in 1935. He was survived by his wife, Rebecca, and two children, Rhea, who was four, and Daryll, who was 11 months old, when their father died. His book, The Speak of the Mearns, a collection of essays and stories, was published in 1982.