Room to roam: how Scotland’s vagabond national theatre broke free

scotland national theatre


It has staged shows in a barn in Perthshire, a forest in Mid Argyll and now on a Glasgow canal. This shape-shifting company puts place at the heart of its plays

For two or three centuries, national theatres have been based in grand culture palaces, with their colonnades, proscenium arches and chandeliers. For little more than a decade, the National Theatre of Scotland has been a theatre “without walls”. If you want to see an NTS show, you have to find it first. The idea takes a little getting used to, but the absence of a building is fundamental to how the organisation operates. Far from being a limitation, it can be artistically liberating. This company is shape-shifting. It can be what it wants.

Counterintuitively, the lack of a permanent performing space makes the NTS more rooted in place rather than less. A director cannot take location for granted. Every time they set out to make a piece of work, they have to ask: “Why here?” At the National Theatre in London, it is of little consequence whether a show goes on in the Lyttelton or the Olivier, but when your choice ranges from a barn in Perthshire (used by NTS last year for The 306: Dawn) to a forest in Mid Argyll (Half Life, 2007) by way of the 2,000-seat Edinburgh Festival theatre (The James Plays, 2014), the relationship of the art to its surroundings is crucial.

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Source: theguardian theatre blog
Room to roam: how Scotland’s vagabond national theatre broke free

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