NATIONAL THEATRE OF SCOTLAND

Projects from 2005/06 + 2011

Having a National Theatre of its own was a long-time dream for many in Scotland and, in 2005, the National Theatre of Scotland was launched. A non-building based company, NTS aims to build a new generation of theatre-goers as well as reinvigorate the existing ones. It aims to create theatre for both the national and international stage that is contemporary, confident and forward-looking and, in doing so, enable both audiences and artists to question, explore and re-imagine what theatre is, can, and should be. 


CREATIVE LEARNING PRACTITIONER: MEN SHOULD WEEP
For S4 - 6 pupils, College Students and Youth Theatre participants

Set amid the grinding poverty of Glasgow's tenements in the 1930s, Ena Lamont Stewart's landmark play, Men Should Weep, is a searing depiction of the hand to mouth poverty that working class people lived in at that time. At the centre of the story is Maggie Morrison, the care-worn matriarch. Supported and hindered in equal measure by a network of neighbours and family - from whom it is impossible to keep any secrets - she does her very best in the worst of circumstances, always putting herself last.

In my role as a Creative Learning Practitioner on Men Should Weep, I was responsible for co-designing and delivering all the Learning and Outreach elements for the production. Through the workshops our primary aim was to give participants an insight in to the methods employed by Director Graham McLaren when approaching the text with the actors and the creative team. Specifically, we explored Stanislavski's process of Actioning, looking at how an actor's personal interpretation of a character can impact on the aims and objectives of each character in a scene. We considered how being open to this approach could allow for the production to be re-imagined with each performance, allowing it to be fresh, spontaneous and honest.

Between September - November 2011, Men Should Weep toured to Glasgow, Arbroath, Inverness, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Perth.


DRAMA ARTIST + COMMUNITY DIRECTOR: THE CRUCIBLE
For 13 - 76 year olds

Between October 2005 and April 2006, I worked as one of the first artists employed by National Theatre of Scotland. Working within the Learn Department, I was the Drama Artist in the Lothians Team. We were commissioned to deliver a programme of workshops and events in both Secondary schools and the wider community, around the National Theatre of Scotland and TAG Theatre co-production of Arthur Miller's The Crucible.

As part of my role within the NTS Lothians Team, I also worked as the Community Director on the Livingston version of The Crucible, planning and leading all rehearsals as well as regularly attending TAG's professional rehearsals at the Citizens' Theatre, Glasgow. This co-production saw a professional cast team up with five different community casts in five separate locations across Scotland, with professional actors performing The Crucible to local audiences alongside local people.

The production was directed by Guy Hollands who was the Artistic Director of TAG Theatre Company and the incoming Joint Artistic Director of the Citizens' Theatre. He was assisted by Community Directors who rehearsed with the community cast members in their own areas prior to production week. The Livingston production, on which I was the Community Director, launched the tour.

Here is some feedback from the Press about the success of the community cast:

The Herald (Keith Bruce), 11.04.06 / ****
This TAG Theatre co-production of Arthur Miller's masterpiece is aimed at those aged 12 and over, and my teenager was enthralled even before he recognised one of the young girls as an acquaintance. Let's start with her, though, because Guy Holland's production tours the country picking up community casts to supplement the company of nine. If they are all as good as this lot, they'll be doing very well indeed ... it is a luxury to see a company of 23 at all and a real achievement that the non-professionals are so strong that the distinction between the two is meaningless. The older amateurs make the Salem community more realistic, while the young women in full hysterical flow are terrifying. 

The Scotsman (Joyce McMillan), 12.04.06 / ***
There is no greater play about [the] process of "othering" - separation and scapegoating - than Arthur Miller's mighty 1950s classic The Crucible. Guy Holland's new production, co-produced by NTS with TAG Theatre, is designed to travel to five towns across Scotland, pausing in each place to rehearse the play, which features a professional cast of nine, with the local youth and community actors who play the remaining dozen roles. In other words it is a high-risk project, and it's strange to report that where it fails, it's not because of the community element of the show, which works superbly ...

The Guardian (Mark Fisher), 13.04.06
This is no token community involvement. Although the professionals play the central roles, the amateurs pick up substantial speaking parts, and in some cases - such as Livingston's Bob Whytock as Francis Nurse - acquit themselves with authority. This is a play that shows how finger-pointing hysteria can grip every layer of society, and it makes sense to have such a broad cross-section on stage. A fully professional cast would find it harder to emulate the ear-piercing screams of the young girls in the court room or the genuine stoicism of the elderly participants.

TES Scotland Plus (Brian Hayward), 28.04.06
It is always good box office to tour a modern classic found in many a classroom cupboard, but the NTS trumps that by casting it with a spine of nine professional actors and then inviting local schoolchildren and amateurs to take the supporting roles [...] The big question for the theatre-goer, of course, was would this professional/amateur mix work? To judge from the tour launch at the Howden Park Centre in Livingston, it works well enough. The four pupils from Bathgate Academy and the three from St. Margaret's, alongside the other local players, were word-perfect, disciplined and faultlessly supported a production that held the audience from start to finish.