National Theatre of Scotland to explore Scottish independence in referendum year

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The National Theatre of Scotland is to engage with the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence by touring a pair of plays examining issues of Scottish national identity according to its new artistic director Laurie Sansom.

Speaking in his first interviews since taking up the post in April, Sansom also announced that he has appointed three associate directors to the company. Graham McLaren, who already held the position under previous AD Vicky Featherstone, will be joined by Cora Bissett and Davey Anderson from January.

Speaking of his programming plans for the company, Sansom said a full announcement will be made later in the year, but that he has commissioned The Great Don't Know Show. This will see writer David Greig and director David MacLennan curating a series of scenes, songs, skits, rants and dramas, around the issues of independence.

Sansom said: "The Great Don't Know Show will almost be like a variety show of sketches and songs. What’s really interesting is David Greig is very firmly on the pro-independence ticket, while David MacLennan is very firmly on the no, which was not deliberate, but I'm really pleased about."

Writer and performer Kieran Hurley has also been commissioned to revive his show Rantin, first performed in Glasgow this year. It will tour Scotland ahead of The Great Don't Know Show, to provoke audience and artists' responses to the independence debate.

Sansom said: "Kieran has made a very informal piece to create stories about different lives that are going on all over Scotland and imagining that these stories are happening right now. I immediately felt it was the perfect piece to start a debate by sending it out nationally."

He added that: "Both shows will use innovative ways of using social media so the whole nation can engage. Even if it is coming nowhere near you, you can contribute."

On wider issues, Sansom gave his support to the artistic uprising against Creative Scotland last year, saying that the way that theatres and theatre companies are funded is important to the NTS.

He told The Scotsman: "It seemed to me the biggest mistaken was for Creative Scotland to become a commissioning body and also issues around the way (artistic) portfolios were being managed. On those two things, artists were loudly telling Creating Scotland that it did not work for them and was not going to serve them."