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National Theatre of Scotland announces season to coincide with referendum

In Time O' Strife. Photo: Andy Ross
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The National Theatre of Scotland has announced the remainder of its 2014 programme under the title of Dear Scotland.

The programme adds to projects previously announced up until June and covers the period of referendum on Scottish independence to be held in September.

The season takes its name from a newly announced project with the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Taking place in April and May, 20 writers will write short monologues to go with 20 different portraits in the gallery.

Launching the season, NTS artistic director Laurie Sansom said: “We have challenged each writer to imagine that that figure is writing a postcard to contemporary Scotland. It has been a fantastic opportunity for me to enlist some of my favourite Scottish writers, not just playwrights but poets and novelists too.”

In June, The Great Yes, No, Don’t Know, Five Minute Theatre Show, curated by David Greig and David MacLennan, will see professional, amateur and first-time theatre makers invited to make and perform a five minute theatre piece inspired by the theme of “independence” for live streaming to a global audience.

The centrepiece of the season is Rona Munro’s history trilogy: The James Plays. It is the company’s first collaboration with the National Theatre of Great Britain and a co-production with the Edinburgh International Festival which will transfer to the NT’s Olivier.

On September 17, the day before the referendum, Blabbermouth will be a 12-hour celebration of Scotland’s cumulative written legacy, taking place in Edinburgh’s Assembly Hall. Conceived and curated by Graham McLaren, the country’s greatest letters, lyrics, polemics and poems will be read and performed by its leading artists, politicians, broadcasters and sports people.

After the referendum, the NTS is reviving the 2013 adaptation of Joe Corrie’s 1926 classic, In Time O’ Strife. The major tour around Scotland will mark the 30th anniversary of the 1984 miner’s strike in September and October.

Speaking to the Stage at the season launch, Rona Munro said of the James Plays: “They are definitely not about the referendum, but there are resonances. And of course it will change, as the decision will happen during the run. It will be really interesting to see how they play before the vote and how they play after the vote. Because how the vote has gone will have a major impact on how the plays feel, I think.

“I hope the plays have a meaning that is larger than this moment in time, but I also know that it [the referendum] will make them – if they are working – electric. Because everyone will bring that sensibility into the space. I think that is a big gift to them and to me.”

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