John Michie to Reunite with Blythe Duff for Traverse Theatre & Tron's GRAIN IN THE BLOOD Premiere
Rehearsals began today, 12 September 2016, for Grain in the Blood, a brand new production from playwright Rob Drummond, commissioned by the Traverse and co-produced with the Tron Theatre, Glasgow. Rob returns to the Traverse is fresh from his festival successes with the innovative In Fidelity and Traverse Breakfast Plays: Tech Will Tear Us Apart(?).
The production sees Blythe Duff and John Michie playing opposite each other for the first time since they starred as DI Jackie Reed and DI Robbie Ross in Taggart. Their roles in the iconic Scottish television series make them two of Scotland's most recognisable faces.
Grain in the Blood is a thrilling five-hander that asks if we can still say there's any such thing as a 'good' and 'bad' moral choice. It examines what rights are lost when laws are broken and where moral theory intersects with real world actions. All of which is set against an unsettling backdrop of ancient pagan beliefs and their persistent presence in the present day.
Blythe Duff returns to the Traverse Theatre for the first time since her acclaimed performance in the award winning Ciara, and will again work with director Orla O'Loughlin. John Michie - a veteran of stage and screen - makes a welcome return to the Scottish stage to play the role of Burt, a corrections officer who carries a heavy burden. John will be a familiar face to fans of Coronation Street in which he played murderer Karl Munro for a number of years and Casualty in which he currently appears as CEO Guy Self.
The play also features some of best rising talent in the country. Sarah Miele, winner of the 2016 BAFTA Scotland New Talent Award for Female Acting Performance, plays the role of Autumn, a young girl whose uncertain future is the lynchpin of this mysterious play. Andrew Rothney, who played roles in the acclaimed The James Plays, makes his Traverse debut in the role of Isaac. Frances Thorburn completes the cast as Vicky.
Director Orla O'Loughlin said, "Grain in the Blood is a thrilling new play by Traverse Associate Artist Rob Drummond. It tells the story of the strong-willed Sophia (Duff) who invites her estranged son Isaac (Rothney) home for the first time since he was sent to prison as a teenager. But she, alongside the girl's aunt, Vicky (Thorburn), has a hidden agenda, involving a young girl called Autumn (Miele) whose life is in great danger,. Given a temporary release under the watchful eye of his guardian Burt (Michie), Isaac is presented with a devastating choice by his mother. The play takes place over the Harvest weekend and set against the eerie backdrop of an isolated rural community, it poses fundamental questions about belief, faith and morality. At its heart lies a timely moral dilemma: how much are we prepared to sacrifice for the greater good?
I am delighted that this Traverse commission is being co-produced by the Tron Theatre and can't wait to bring this startling psychological thriller to both main houses this season. I feel especially privileged to be leading such a strong creative and Acting Company on this production and extend a special welcome back to actress Blythe Duff following her award winning performance in Ciara. A warm welcome too to acclaimed actor John Michie for whom this marks a Traverse stage debut and something of a return as he started his career as a stage hand at the Traverse."
Fred Meller, who worked on the Traverse Festival hit Milk, is the designer and Simon Wilkinson is the Lighting Designer on Grain in the Blood. Michael John McCarthy is the composer and Sound Designer and Elliot Roberts is the assistant director, a position supported by The Saltire Society.
Grain in The Blood will run from Tuesday 1 November to Sat 12 November at the Traverse. The show will also run at The Tron theatre, Glasgow from 20 to 29 October.
The Traverse is Scotland's new writing theatre. Formed in 1963 by a group of passionate theatre enthusiasts, the Traverse was founded to extend the spirit of the Edinburgh festivals throughout the year. Today, under Artistic Director Orla O'Loughlin, the Traverse nurtures emerging talent, produces award-winning new plays and offers a curated programme of the best work from the UK and beyond, spanning theatre, dance, performance, music and spoken word.
The Traverse has launched the careers of some of the UK's most celebrated writers - David Greig, David Harrower and Zinnie Harris - and continues to discover and support new voices - Stef Smith, Morna Pearson, Gary McNair and Rob Drummond.
With two custom-built and versatile theatre spaces, the Traverse's home in Edinburgh's city centre is a powerhouse of vibrant new work for, and of, our time. Every August, it holds an iconic status as the theatrical heart of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Outside the theatre walls, it runs an extensive engagement programme, offering audiences of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to explore, create and develop. Further afield, the Traverse frequently tours internationally and engages in exchanges and partnerships - most recently in Quebec, New Zealand and South Korea.
ABOUT THE CREATIVE TEAM
Rob Drummond - Writer - is an award-winning playwright, performer and director who has worked with the most prestigious theatres in the UK. Rob is under commission to Traverse Theatre, National Theatre of Scotland, The Royal Court and the National Theatre.
Theatre includes: Mr Write (National Theatre of Scotland); Rob Drummond: Wrestling (The Arches); Bullet Catch (The Arches, Traverse Theatre, 59E59 Theater, National Theatre, World Tour); Quiz Show (Traverse Theatre); Uncanny Valley (Summerhall), In Fidelity (Traverse and HighTide Festival).
Awards: Rob's plays Mr Write, Uncanny Valley and Quiz Show have all won Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland. Bullet Catch won the 2012 Total Theatre Award and received a Herald Angel.
Orla O'Loughlin - Director - is Artistic Director and Joint Chief Executive of the Traverse Theatre. Prior to taking up post at the Traverse, she was Artistic Director of the award-winning Pentabus Theatre and International Associate at The Royal Court Theatre.
Directing work for the Traverse includes Milk, Tracks of the Winter Bear, The Scotsman Fringe First and Scottish Arts Club Theatre award-winning Swallow, The Scotsman Fringe First award-winning Spoiling, The Scotsman Fringe First, Herald Angel and CATS award-winning Ciara, The Devil Masters, Clean, A Respectable Widow Takes to Vulgarity, Fifty Plays for Edinburgh, The Arthur Conan Doyle Appreciation Society, The Artist Man and the Mother Woman, and the Herald Angel award-winning Dream Plays (Scenes From A Play I'll Never Write). Other directing work includes: For Once (Hampstead Theatre Studio, National Tour); Kebab (Dublin International Festival/ Royal Court Theatre); How Much is your Iron? (Young Vic); The Hound of the Baskervilles (West Yorkshire Playhouse/ National Tour/ West End); Tales of the Country, Origins (Pleasance/ Theatre Severn); Relatively Speaking, Blithe Spirit, Black Comedy (Watermill Theatre); Small Talk: Big Picture (BBC World Service/ ICA/ Royal Court Theatre); A Dulditch Angel (National Tour) and The Fire Raisers, sob stories, Refrain (BAC).
Orla is a former recipient of the James Menzies Kitchin Award and the Carlton Bursary at the Donmar Warehouse. She was also listed in the Observer as one of the top 50 cultural leaders in the UK.
Fred Meller - Designer - designed the Festival hit Milk as well as the Fringe First winning Swallow by Steff Smith for the Traverse Theatre. Her extensive career includes work for the Royal Shakespeare Company, many times with Cardboard Citizens, The Almeida, The Gate Theatre, The Royal National Theatre Studio, The Watermill Theatre, The Nuffield Theatre, The Royal Court Theatre, The Young Vic, Kaos and Grid Iron. Productions that are representative of the devised and new writing agendas that are her concerns.
Fred like to work with spaces other than Theatre buildings: designing for spaces that include an old hospital, jam factory, a mortuary, a disused brothel, Victorian Town Hall cellars, and a supermarket distribution complex. She has created a broad and diverse range of work also for touring and traditional Theatre buildings and for established texts.
Fred has exhibited at The Prague Quadrennial in 1999 and 2003, winning the Golden Triga and was selected to exhibit at The World Stage Design in Toronto 2005, and in the National Society of British Theatre Designers Exhibitions. Her work is part of the V&A Museum Permanent Collection. She trained at The Royal Welsh College and received an Arts Council Designers Bursary. Other awards include The Jerwood Design award and a Year of the Artist award. She is Course Leader for BA Performance Design and Practice at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts, London. She co-convened the Scenography working group at TaPRA (Theatre and Performance Research Association), is a Fellow of the HEA, and a Fellow of The Arts Foundation.
Simon Wilkinson - Lighting Designer
ABOUT THE CAST
Blythe Duff (Sophia) has enjoyed a varied career at home and abroad. Her stage credits include the The James Plays - National Theatre of Scotland/The National/EIFF - Festival Theatre, The Olivier, tour of the UK/Adelaide/Auckland and Toronto Festivals; Into That Darkness for The Citizens Theatre; Ciara for The Traverse Theatre & Datum Point Productions (which she founded in 2010) winning a best actress at 2014 Critics' Award for Theatre in Scotland, a Fringe First and an Herald Angel Award; Good With People for Datum Point/Paine's Plough/Òran Mór, and at 59East59 Theatre, New York; Iron for Firebrand (best actress CATS '13); Infinite Scotland for Big Sky; Beautiful Burnout for Frantic Assembly/NTS, at St Ann's Warehouse, New York & the Sydney, Perth and Wellington Festivals; Just Checking for Datum Point; Be Near Me for the NTS/ Donmar Warehouse, (Manchester Evening News Award nominated 2009); Home for the NTS; Mum's The Word for R C Kelly and Volcanic Prod. (New Zealand); King Of The Fields -Traverse Theatre; Swing Hammer Swing - Citizens Theatre and Street Scene for Scottish Opera/ENO. Her film work includes Sarajevo part of EIFF 2011 and the BAFTA award winning Hula .Her work with various orchestras include Hansel & Gretal & The Young Persons Guide To The Orchestra. Radio includes readings for The Complete Works Of Robert Burns. She is best known for playing Jackie Reid in Taggart (STV/ITV) for 21 seasons. In 2011 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Caledonian University for her contribution to the arts.
John Michie (Burt) is delighted to be back at The Traverse (where he started his career as a stage-hand) and working on new writing. He has performed in a variety of new plays including Breed by Lou Ramsden, Precious by Anna Reynolds, Dealing with Claire by Martin Crimp, Number One by Michael Frayn, The Real Don Juan by Ranjit Bolt, Women Laughing by Michael Wall, Simply Disconnected by Simon Grey and Prin by Andrew Davies. On TV he played Robbie Ross in Taggart, Karl Munro in Coronation Street, and currently Guy Self in Holby City, as well as appearing in West Skerra Light, Rab C Nesbitt, Randall and Hopkirk, Wire in the Blood, Dalzeil and Pascoe, Moon and Son, Ruth Rendall's Master of the Moor and Truth or Dare. Films include Monk Dawson, The Conquest of the South Pole and To Walk With Lions. He has also presented three documentaries Murder Capital for STV, Crime and Investigation, Highlands for STV and History and Made in Scotland for STV
Sarah Miele (Autumn) trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Credits in training include Kidnapped (Graham McLaren/NTS), A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Dining Room and Nokken and One Single Tulip (both for Spoleto International Student Festival). She was also the winner of the Duncan Macrae Memorial Award for Speaking of Scots. Professional credits include Thon Man Moliere (Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh), Tin Forest (National Theatre of Scotland) and Whatever Gets You Through the Night (Cora Bissett), as well as work with Tidy Carnage, Scrapyard Theatre, NYT and Pilot Theatre/York Theatre Royal. Screen credits include short film Grimm Street (Hopscotch Films) for which she won the BAFTA Scotland New Talent Award 2016 (Acting Performance Female). Sarah is also a trained aerial artist and has performed with All Or Nothing Aerial Dance, PaperDoll Militia and NTS. She is currently developing a solo show incorporating aerial and theatre entitled If Only My Body Would Let Me.
Andrew Rothney (Issac) trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama. His theatre work includes James I (National Theatre & National Theatre of Scotland James Ii (National Theatre & National Theatre of Scotland), James IiI (National Theatre & National Theatre of Scotland), Macbeth (Perth Theatre) and Much Ado About Nothing (Bard in the Botanics). He has starred in filmsThe Huntsman (Huntsman Productions Ltd) and Blackbird (Deerstalker Films). He has also starred in Holby (BBC), Shetland (BBC) and Outlander (Starz) on television
Frances Thorburn (Vicky) was last seen at the Edinburgh International Festival singing at the Hub, as part of the extravaganza that was 'Club Cumming' with Alan Cumming and Lance Horne. Before that she starred in Doris, Dolly and the Dressing room Divas, written and directed by Morag Fullarton at Oran Mor. She also played the role of Judy Garland in Frances and Ethel written by David Cosgrove for A Play, A Pie and A Pint. Earlier in the year she worked on a beautiful show for children called The Little Town of Never Weary with Scottish Opera. She's been working for many years in theatre and music and has been lucky enough to play Marilyn Monroe at the Citz and the Lyceum, performed a summer season at Shakespeare's Globe and starred as Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof at The Savoy. Frances also has a busy music career in which she performs all over Scotland as part of the duo 'Thorburn and Farrell' and has released two albums.