City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Traverse Theatre Announces 2014 Festival Programme

By Irene Brown - Posted on 04 June 2014

Summer may feel quite far away under Edinburgh’s seemingly permanent grey skies but at two months before Festival time there is lots of theatrical brightness on the horizon with the recently announced 2014 Festival programme from Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre.

From Sunday 27 July to Sunday 24 August, 2014 it will play host to nineteen shows and events that includes thirteen premières - one European, two UK, two Scottish and eight World Premières. If there is a collective noun for premières, it can certainly be applied here!

Speaking about her third programme as Artistic Director for the Traverse Theatre, Orla O’Loughlin said, “Embodying the spirit of the Festival all year round, The Traverse continues to be a unique landmark on Edinburgh’s cultural landscape and is the beating heart of new writing in Scotland. This August we are proud to present and produce a Festival programme which celebrates some of the most compelling theatrical voices from the UK and beyond.”

Here is a taster of the eclectic and exciting programme that was manifest in last night’s launch:

As part of the Made in Scotland Showcase, Fringe First award-winning playwright Owen McCafferty brings the World Premiere of Unfaithful, a stark and searing glimpse into the reality of relationships following two couples, Joan and Tom, Tara and Peter as they struggle to comprehend their roles as lovers, partners and individuals. The play is directed by guest director Rachel O’Riordan, the newly appointed Artistic Director of Sherman Cymru. Also part of the Made in Scotland Showcase and another is World Premiere is former Traverse Fifty writer John McCann’s political satire, Spoiling. It is an imagining of a newly independent Scotland with the Foreign Minister Designate preparing to deliver a keynote speech in front of the world’s media. The fittingly political piece for this momentous time will be directed by Traverse Artistic Director, Orla O’Loughlin and will star Gabriel Quigley.

Prepare for an early start and an early treat with the Traverse Breakfast Plays. Six writers from the Traverse Fifty project will put on two performances of their World Premières on the same day over the last two weeks of the Festival. They are Tim Primrose (Broth), Sylvia Dow (Blinded by the Light), Martin McCormick (The Day the Pope Emptied Croy), Alison Carr (Fat Alice), Molly Innes (Mother Ease) and Lachlan Philpott (Walter).

Following a sell-out run in March, the popular verbatim piece Bloody Trams directed by Joe Douglas returns to Traverse 2. A public response to one of Edinburgh’s most contested and emotive debates over the last decade, two actors will recreate the opinions of the People of Edinburgh incorporating tram passenger interviews and stories from Edinburgh Festival visitors. The controversial subject is accompanied by live original songs from composer and pianist David Paul Jones.

Traverse 1, plays host to critically-acclaimed writer, director and performer Valentijn Dhaenens with the UK Premiere of the political and personal drama SmallWar. Alone on stage, Valentjin Dhaenens tells the tragic fate of those who are forced to live in the wake of man as a belligerent creature in war.

The noble, heroic, exalted side of war gets ample coverage; SmallWar investigates the reverse side of the medal, the clash between underlings and the massive structures crushing them. Its partner piece BigMouth offers a platform to leaders through history and from across the world, people who invariably spurred masses on to war: praising the fallen and smooth-talking their families and loved ones. The Traverse offers Festival audiences a second chance to see this critically-acclaimed performance for three nights only.

One of comedy’s elder statesmen and all-round arty mischief-maker, Mark Thomas returns to the Traverse Festival with his World Premiere of the very personal and political Cuckooed. In this comedy of betrayal, Thomas tells his true story of how Britain’s biggest arms manufacturer, BAE Systems, came to spy on a comedian in this tale of hubris, planes, demos and undercover deceit.

There is a strong Irish voice in this year’s programme, not least from acclaimed theatre artist Olwen Fouéré’s adaptation of the voice of the river in James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake in riverrun. The UK Première of LIPPY by Bush Moukarzel and Mark O’Halloran, is an interpretive piece that tells the true story of four women dying in a starvation pact, meditating on the inexplicable fact of death and this event that took place behind closed doors and without explanation.

Scottish company Fire Exit return to Traverse 2 with the World Premiere of Horizontal Collaboration, written and directed by multi award-winning ‘theatrical maverick’ David Leddy. An intense live drama where sex, power and politics collide with emotion, seduction and destruction, the piece is performed daily by new actors who never see the script in advance.

Four U.N. lawyers have been brought in at short notice to read pre-prepared texts in an explosive tribunal. They are reading blind and have no idea what happens next. Also part of the Made in Scotland Showcase with Horizontal Collaboration, City of the Blind from Fire Exit is a new downloadable drama, an epic political thriller available anywhere via smartphone or tablet.

Available online via, this online experience is an emotionally complex and intellectually provocative piece. Throughout six thirty-minute-long chapters, you can follow U.N. investigator and whistleblower Cassie Al-Khatib caught in a web of surveillance, violence, and counter-intelligence. Created over three years and featuring thirty performers recorded in sixteen different locations, City of the Blind is ground-breaking production for small-scale technology.

Three-time Fringe First winner Chris Goode brings the World Premiere of Men in the Cities incendiary piece of experimental storytelling presents fractured snapshots of dozens of seemingly disconnected lives that together offer a challenging but radically humane portrait of how we live now. In contrast, writer and performer Gary McNair returns to the Traverse Theatre with a coming of age story that deconstructs the darker side of comedy with Donald Robertson is not a Stand Up Comedian.

Stellar Quines returns to the Traverse 2 stage with The Carousel, a poignant play about one woman’s journey of discovery. While driving to her dying mother’s bedside, a woman calls upon the spirit of her dead grandmother and begins a quest through a labyrinth of memories. This is the second in the trilogy from celebrated Québec dramatist Jennifer Tremblay, (the first is The List) translated by Shelley Tepperman and again starring Maureen Beattie.

Also part of the Made in Scotland Showcase is the unique walk-through experience with no performers or live action that is HUFF, from Theatre artists Shona Reppe and Andy Manley and based on the story of The Three Little Pigs. In groups of three, audience members set off on an expedition through a series of chambers that represent the trials and tribulations of the builder-pigs and their arch enemy, the wolf. HUFF is suitable for anyone over the age of 8.

Blending performance, comedy and film, award-winning performer and video artist Kim Noble: You’re Not Alone is a provocative, moving and comic production that chronicles one man’s attempts at connection, friendship and employment at B&Q.

The Made in Scotland showcase also features TalkFest 2014, a series of inspirational discussions with leading writers and theatre-makers involved in this year’s wider Festival Fringe, including Fleur Darkin, Caroline Bowditch and Christine Devaney.

In a unique collaboration between the University of Edinburgh, Traverse Theatre and the Playwrights’ Studio Scotland four readings from four brand new plays by four emerging writers from across Europe results in Pre-View and on 11 Aug The Traverse welcomes back the James Tait Black Prize for Drama, judged, among others, by students, academics of Edinburgh University and Traverse Associate Artist and Traverse Associate Director, Zinnie Harris and Emma Callander.

Multi award-winning Theatre Uncut returns to the Traverse with Theatre Uncut 2014. The form is exclusive previews of brand new commissioned plays over three nights, including five new plays exploring the debate around the upcoming Scottish Independence referendum and six new plays created in a collaborative project with Istanbul-based DOT Tiyatro, and written by leading Turkish and British writers.

As ever at the cutting edge, The (just terrific) Traverse will be a hub of 2014’s Fringe!