Burns Supper staged to benefit Port Townsend Scottish exchange program for theater students

PORT TOWNSEND — In mid-January, Tracy Rennie approached the organizers of the Port Townsend Robert Burns Supper and asked if students at the high school, chosen for a theater exchange program in Scotland, could be involved.

When they told her they weren’t holding the dinner this year, she volunteered to organize the dinner, a tradition honoring the Scottish bard’s birthday — despite the fact that it was only two weeks away.

“I’ve done this quite a few times with friends overseas,” Rennie said.

“We’ve lived in places where there was a large colonial Scots population.”

Tracy is the wife of Lance Rennie, a senior diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service, who grew up in Port Angeles and graduated from Port Angeles High School in 1972.

The family has lived in Nigeria, Benin, the Ivory Coast and Zimbabwe, but moved to Port Townsend last August, where their daughter, Cici, is in her first year at Port Townsend High School.

Edinburgh theater

Cici is one of 10 students who have been chosen by audition for an exchange program with the Lyceum Youth Theatre of Edinburgh, the Scottish capital, and are raising the money for the trip to Scotland in July.

“We were trying to find something quickly to do as a fund-raiser and trying to keep to the Scottish vein,” Tracy Rennie said.

She can draw on both experience and ancestry — she’s of English descent, her husband Scottish — to put on the Burns Supper, which honors the memory of Scotland’s beloved poet.

First held in the late 1700s on the anniversary of Burns’ birth, the memorial has become a tradition celebrated by Scots at home and abroad, including the places in Africa where the Rennies lived.

“We’re plugging right into 200 years of history,” said Chris Pierson, the high school drama teacher.

The Port Townsend banquet, which will be held at Manresa Castle, will follow a time-honored format: the saying of the Selkirk Grace, followed by the ceremonial presentation of the haggis, a Scottish dish made of sheep organs and herbs.

Guests stand and clap as the piper leads the procession around the tables, then Burns’ satirical poem, “To a Haggis,” is read.

THE BURNS SUPPER will be Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at Manresa Castle, Seventh and Sheridan streets, Port Townsend.

Cost is $35 and includes buffet dinner with haggis, grilled salmon and chicken cacciatore. Kilts or semi-formal attire encouraged.

Proceeds to benefit Port Townsend High School drama students’ trip to Scotland for an exchange program with the Lyceum Youth Theater of Edinburgh.

Tickets available at Wandering Angus, 929 Water St., Port Townsend. Call 360-385-3317.

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