Big hits and tight flits are among the Edinburgh shows and events announced in the first six months of the National Theatre of Scotland 2016 season.
There are full details of the UK tour of last year’s big NTS hit at the EIF, The James Plays, which kicks off at the Festival in January. And more details of Told by an Idiot’s I Am Thomas, a co-production with the Lyceum and the NTS, which is flitting round the UK and arrives in March.
There’s bona fide news for two Edinburgh youth theatres, Strange Town and Creative Electric – as well as West Lothian company Paperdog (Firefly Arts Youth Theatre) – who will be joining seven other companies as part in the NTS Exchange programme in June.
Of the big shows not in Edinburgh, Traverse associate director and playwright Zinnie Harris has written a trilogy of new plays based on Aeschylus’ The Oresteia, which are being staged at the Glasgow Citizens in April.
But perhaps the most interesting of all the productions announced today will take place in rural Perthshire. The 306 is another trilogy, but taking place with one new production a year, about the 306 men who were executed for cowardice, desertion and mutiny during World War I (1914-18).
The opening piece, The 306: Dawn, premieres with a special dawn performance at the end of May and is a co-commission with 14-18 NOW, the UK’s First World War centenary cultural programme, from playwright Oliver Emanuel and composer Gareth Williams.
Private Joseph Byers
Private Andrew Evans Time unknown / 6.2.1915
Private George E. Collins 07:30 / 15.2.1915
Six Farm, Loker, West-Vlaanderen
Announcing the programme details, NTS artistic director Laurie Sansom said: “We are thrilled to be celebrating ten years of working with the best Scottish theatre-makers with a programme that reflects a robust and aspiring national theatre, collaborating with artists and theatres across the country to make bold and powerful work.
“Whether it be through collaboration with the Citizens Theatre to bring Zinnie Harris’ extraordinary new work This Restless House, commissioned by us to give Scotland its very own, reimagined version of The Oresteia, or touring across the globe with Rona Munro’s epic The James Plays with an ensemble company for five months , or premiering Oliver Emanuel and Gareth William’s heart -breaking World War I music theatre piece, The 306: Dawn, in a barn in Perthshire, we are dedicated to creating projects that truly reflect the ambitions of Scotland’s artists.”
He added that the programme also: “captures a playful, irreverent voice, unashamedly populist, vernacular in tone and bursting with song”. No more so than with Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour which goes out on tour and will play London but is not, as yet, booked to return to Edinburgh.
Meet the Artists
Sunday 24 January 2016
The Lyceum, Edinburgh (free but ticketed)
Laurie Sansom hosts an evening of conversation and performance as audiences have the chance to preview the Company’s upcoming productions and to hear more about the work from many of the theatre-makers involved.
The James Plays
Wednesday 3 – Saturday 13 February 2016.
Festival Theatre Edinburgh
James I – Wed 3 & 10 February 2016
James II – Thurs 4 & 11 February 2016
James III – Friday 5 & 12 February 2016
Trilogy Day – Saturday 13 February 2016
Ensemble cast: Rosemary Boyle, Daniel Cahill, Ali Craig, Malin Crepin, Blythe Duff, Nick Elliot, Peter Forbes, Andrew Fraser, Dani Heron, Brian James Sian Mannifield, David Mara Steven Miller, Callum Morrison, Matthew Pidgeon, Sally Reid, Andrew Rothney, John Stahl, Andrew Still and Fiona Wood
The three kings will be played by Steven Miller (James I), Andrew Rothney (James II) and Matthew Pidgeon (James III).
I Am Thomas – A brutal comedy with songs
March 23 – April 9, 2016
Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
Using Told by an Idiot’s trademark anarchic physicality and inventive storytelling, I Am Thomas glimpses into Edinburgh’s dark past to bring out the black humour in the true story of Thomas Aikenhead, a Scottish student who was the last person in Britain to be executed for blasphemy.
With original lyrics by award-winning poet Simon Armitage and music by Iain Johnstone the show is first-time collaboration between The Lyceum, Edinburgh, the National Theatre of Scotland and Told by an Idiot.
Touring to Liverpool, Salford, Salisbury, Edinburgh and Inverness from 9 February to 16 April 2016.
This Restless House
April 15 – May 14 2016
The Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
A trilogy of new plays by Zinnie Harris based on Aeschylus’ The Oresteia, telling the bloody saga of a family torn apart by a succession of murders and betrayals, set against the backdrop of a society on the brink of a revolution and learning to operate within a nascent and flawed justice system. Sounds perfect for director Dominic Hill.
THE 306: Dawn
May 28 – June 11 2016
Dalcrue Farm, Pitcairngreen, Perth
Part I of a trilogy of new plays, with live music, commemorating the First World War, to be presented in 2016, 2017 and 2018. These plays will explore personal stories of the 306 British soldiers who were executed for cowardice, desertion and mutiny during World War I (1914-18), as well as looking at how the war affected women, families and communities on the home front.
The first part of the trilogy is set in France, around time of the Battle of the Somme and will mark the 100th anniversary of this Battle. Based on real events, it charts the heartbreaking journey of three of the 306. The work is a co-commission with 14-18 NOW, the UK’s First World War centenary cultural programme.
July 4 – 10 2016
Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling
The NTS’s international theatre festival for 16 – 25 year olds brings together groups of young theatre-makers from Scotland and across the world, to facilitate a national and international exchange and to enable the groups to create and perform new pieces of theatre with the help and support of a professional creative team.
The groups are each supported artistically and financially in the creation of an original work of quality contemporary theatre. Each theatre piece is initially performed in the group’s home area before it is staged as part of the week-long residential Exchange festival.
The eight Scottish groups include Edinburgh’s Creative Electric and Strange Town, with West Lothian company Firefly. They will be joined by two international companies, Epic NEXT from Harlem, Manhattan, USA, and Massive Company from Auckland, New Zealand.
Full details are on the NTS website: www.nationaltheatrescotland.com