The National Theatre of Scotland today announced its 2023 season. The season comprises of a year-long programme rooted in the popular culture and geography of Scotland, with classic and contemporary stories set in the Lowlands, the Highlands, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeenshire. The season has five world premieres, eight touring productions visiting more than 40 venues across Scotland and beyond, as well as digital and broadcast projects shared in cinemas, television, radio, museums as well as new production captures on the National Theatre of Scotland Education Portal.
WORLD PREMIERES OF NEW PRODUCTIONS
DRACULA: MINA’S RECKONING, a thrilling new version conceived by Morna Pearson and Sally Cookson, written by Morna Pearson after Bram Stoker, directed by Sally Cookson and relocated to Aberdeenshire. Mina Murray is at the heart of the action and together with an all-women and non-binary ensemble retells a unique version of Bram Stoker’s classic tale. A co-production with Aberdeen Performing Arts, in association with Belgrade Theatre, Coventry. Opening in Aberdeen before touring to Glasgow, Stirling, Inverness, Dundee, Edinburgh and Coventry from September to October 2023.
DEAR BILLY, a love letter to the Big Yin. Gary McNair’s celebration of the trail blazing Scottish icon, Billy Connolly is directed by Joe Douglas. Gary will collect stories on the road, which will be woven into the show as it travels. The show will travel the length and breadth of Scotland visiting local theatres, arts and community centres in Edinburgh, Ayr, Dundee, East Kilbride, Hawick, Dumfries, Lyth, Strathpeffer, Nairn, St Andrews, Cumbernauld, Dunoon, Perth and ending with a run at the King’s Theatre, Glasgow.
THROWN, a politically powerful and playful new production about Scottish Backhold Wrestling led by writer, performer and movement specialist Nat McCleary and directed by Johnny McKnight. Telling the story of Glasgow’s most unlikely Backhold Wrestling team, Thrown explores issues of community and identity in Scotland, challenging contemporary notions of Scottishness. A summer tour of locations on the Highland Games circuit and community halls in the North and West of Scotland, including performances in Oban, Skye and Ballater, before appearing at the Edinburgh International Festival in August 2023.
KIDNAPPED, a swashbuckling new production, adapted by Isobel McArthur and Michael John McCarthy touring in Spring 2023. Based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel, this riotous coming of age rom-com is packed full of 20th century pop music and 18th century romance performed by a dynamic ensemble of actor-musicians. Opening in Greenock before touring to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness, Perth and Newcastle from March to May 2023.
SUPPORTING SCOTTISH TOURS
National Theatre of Scotland enabling and supporting extensive Scottish tours for two leading productions.
PROTEST, a bold, timely new play written by Hannah Lavery and directed by Natalie Ibu, produced by Fuel, Northern Stage, Imaginate in association with National Theatre of Scotland. Three girls prepare to make a stand exploring what it takes to make a difference, the power of friendship, and the importance of believing in your own voice. Opening in Newcastle and touring to Edinburgh, Perth, Giffnock, Shetland, Aberdeen and Glasgow in April and May 2023, with further dates to be announced.
MOORCROFT, Eilidh Loan’s hit show about football and friendships in the West of Scotland returns for extra time, produced by the Tron Theatre, in association with National Theatre of Scotland. Inspired by true stories from Eilidh’s father’s youth, the production follows a group of young lads in search of an escape from working class life. The National Theatre of Scotland is enabling the tour to Stirling, Aberdeen, Greenock, Kirkcaldy, Edinburgh, Cumbernauld and Musselburgh from October to November 2023.
DIGITAL AND BROADCAST
FINDING SEAGLASS, an Almost Tangible and National Theatre of Scotland production for BBC Radio 4. Poet Hannah Lavery offers a searingly honest portrayal of growing up, and raising children, mixed-race in Scotland. A beautiful story of love, loss, bereavement and hope, Hannah’s story challenges audiences to see Scottish history and our public memory in a different light. Written and performed by Hannah Lavery and directed by Niloo-Far Khan. Airing on BBC Radio 4 in Summer 2023.
TARTAN – “Fashion” a popular extract from the BBC’s performance capture of globe-trotting hit Black Watch, will be shown in V&A Dundee’s major Tartan exhibition from 1 April 2023 - 14 January 2024. Tartan presents a radical new look at one of the world’s best-known fabrics, telling the story of tartan from the historic to the contemporary, including iconic examples of fashion, architecture, product design, film, performance and fine art. The digital version of Black Watch will be added to the Company’s Education Portal.
LAMENT FOR SHEKU BAYOH, special cinema screenings of Hannah Lavery’s artistic response to the tragic death of Sheku Bayoh in 2015 in Kirkcaldy, will be shown at Kino Cinema in Leven and the Cameo Cinema in Edinburgh in January 2023. These screenings have been programmed to coincide with the ongoing Public Inquiry into Sheku Bayoh’s death and will be followed by a live Q&A event with Hannah and Aamer Anwar. After the cinema screenings, the film will be available to stream online for free, for a limited period. Originally created as a National Theatre of Scotland, Edinburgh International Festival and Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh co-production.
THE STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE, a special feature length version of the film, in a new edit, will be broadcast on Sky Arts in 2023. National Theatre of Scotland and Selkie Productions in association with Screen Scotland and Sky Arts present this new version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale, written by Hope Dickson Leach and Vlad Butucea.
DEVELOPING NEW TALENT
Hammer Acts, The HoneyFarm, Zoe Bullock and Thulani Rachia are the Company’s Develop artists, chosen through a call out and application process. They will be taking up residencies with the Company to explore and create new pieces of work.
THEATRE IN SCHOOLS SCOTLAND, Maya and The Whale by Hazel Darwin-Clements, directed by Lewis Hetherington, produced by Independent Arts Projects touring to Scottish schools in 2023. A bold new production for upper primary and lower secondary pupils about a young climate activist on the run. A National Theatre of Scotland partnership project with Imaginate.
LIKE FLYING, directed by Nic Green with movement direction by All or Nothing Aerial Dance Theatre takes the form of a promenade performance in schools. Following the success of the project in four Scottish secondary schools in 2019 and 2022, LIKE FLYING performances will be in St Thomas Aquinas RC Secondary School in Glasgow and in Northfield Academy, Aberdeen in 2023. Up to 30 young people from each school are involved in the project.
NEIGHBOURHOOD PROJECT, The Bank of Springburn, multi-disciplinary artist Kevin Gilday will be taking up a month’s residency in a former bank in Springburn Shopping Centre in December 2022 and April 2023. Gilday’s The Bank of Springburn is a research and engagement project, exploring themes around the cost of living.
EDUCATION PORTAL, new digital National Theatre of Scotland productions to be made available to schools and educators along with accompanying resources: Thrown by Nat McLeary directed by Johnny McKnight; Dracula: Mina’s Reckoning (after Bram Stoker) by Morna Pearson, directed by Sally Cookson; Black Watch by Gregory Burke, directed by John Tiffany and Protest by Hannah Lavery, directed by Natalie Ibu.
CREATIVE CAREERS – JOURNEY TO A DREAM JOB, aimed at secondary school pupils in S3-S6, these workshops give pupils information about different careers available in the Creative Industries. The sessions demonstrate that the arts can be a fantastic tool to create confident, ambitious, creative thinkers in any workforce.
A DAY FOR DRAMA TEACHERS, drama teachers from secondary schools all over Scotland join leading theatre professionals for a day of professional development and inspiration. Following on from the success of this year’s sold-out event, National Theatre of Scotland’s Creative Engagement team will host a subsequent Day for Drama Teachers at Rockvilla on 15 September 2023.
Making National Theatre of Scotland as accessible to many people and communities as possible.
A programme of BSL interpreted, audio described and captioned performances will be offered for the Company’s work onstage and online. All the Company’s shows are autism friendly.
The ongoing expansion of the popular Theatre for a Fiver scheme for 14-to-26-year-olds and those on Universal Credit to attend performances for five pounds.
The continuation of the Company’s First Nights programme offering people from under-served communities the opportunity to take part in theatre for the first time – or for the first time in a long time – in a safe, hosted environment, at every venue and every show, across the country.
All National Theatre of Scotland productions meet the standards of the Theatre Green Book, a UK wide initiative for making productions sustainably and making theatre buildings sustainable.
The National Theatre of Scotland Associate Directors for 2023 are Debbie Hannan and Finn Den Hertog, and the Associate Artists are Johnny McKnight and Hannah Lavery.
Jackie Wylie, Artistic Director and CEO, said:
“The theatre industry and the live performing arts are undoubtedly facing some of their greatest challenges in the current climate of post pandemic economic fragility. This makes the National Theatre of Scotland even more determined to bring the joy of the live communal experience to the widest possible reach of audiences across Scotland and beyond. We believe that culture has a critical role to play in the recovery of a nation – for individuals, communities and for society.
We are offering audiences a popular programme with radical versions of classics and uplifting contemporary new plays, all reflecting on modern Scotland, created by some of the most talented theatre makers and artists working in Scotland today.
Our 2023 season is a celebration of what makes Scotland great, its landscapes, its icons and stories all rooted in the country’s geography and much-loved cultural traditions. Romance and adventure in the Lowlands, amateur football in Renfrewshire, Glasgow’s adored Billy Connolly, a fierce and funny wrestling team at the Highland Games, an Aberdeenshire Dracula and a Leith-set Jekyll and Hyde all feature, as we tour to over 40 venues across the nation.
The artform of theatre uniquely offers a platform to grapple with the issues of our day, where we can be challenged and provoked but affirmed by our shared humanity. Our 2023 programme explores national identity, climate justice, the politics of gender and power, youth activism in playful, theatrical ways.
More than ever, we thank our partners, our supporters, the venues we are touring to, the artists, the crews, the freelancers, who make our work and our audiences, for their continued support and commitment in the most difficult of times.”