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Traverse Theatre Announces Further Additions To Festival 2018


The Traverse Theatre is excited to announce the final additions to the Traverse Festival 2018 programme - including, in what is Scotland's Year of Young People 2018, Festival favourite Breakfast Plays: Youthquake, pairing three young Scottish playwrights from our Traverse Young Writers' group with three leading British writers. Together they will explore how the younger generation can be a catalyst for political and social change.

In addition to the already-revealed Traverse 1 programme (re-cap and casting updates below), Traverse 2 will house a collection of five bold, exploratory and compellingly human works. They take in a ferocious and funny examination of abuses of power (Ulster American); a love story that travels through space and time (The Greatest Play in the History of the World...); a fiery exploration of class, love and entitlement (CLASS); a suspenseful psychological thriller about one woman's complex descent into madness (Coriolanus Vanishes); and an emotionally-charged examination of American gun violence (On The Exhale). Off-site, Dante or Die present a site-specific piece exploring what happens to our digital identities after we die (User Not Found).

Elsewhere, our rotating Monday schedule will include fledgling company Wildfire Theatre; political agitators Theatre Uncut, Playwrights' Studio Scotland's TalkFest and Pre-View, Playwrights' Studio Scotland and the University of Edinburgh's James Tait Black Prize for Drama 2018: The Award Ceremony; and a series of 'In Conversation' events, workshops and discussions sponsored by Spotlight. Read on for a detailed run-through...

Breakfast Plays

Breakfast Plays: Youthquake

World Premiere. Traverse Theatre Company

In this, Scotland's Year of Young People 2018, we pair three young Scottish playwrights, each alumni from our Traverse Young Writers' group (Natalie Mackinnon, Rebecca Sweeney and Laurie Motherwell), with three leading British writers (Ella Hickson, Kieran Hurley and Sabrina Mahfouz) for a fresh and youthful perspective on Festival favourite, Breakfast Plays. Each young writer will explore, in their own way, the pressing question of our time: how can the younger generation be a catalyst for political and social change? Twinned with pieces from their professional mentors, this brave new body of work from young voices is a defiant demand to be seen and heard. Presented as script-in-hand readings, with breakfast roll and hot drink included. Directed by Traverse Associate Director Gareth Nicholls, Traverse 2018 Writer in Residence Adura Onashile and Village Pub Theatre's co-Artistic Director Caitlin Skinner. Breakfast Plays: Youthquake is part of the Partner Programme supporting the Year of Young People 2018.

Traverse 2

Ulster American

World Premiere. Traverse Theatre Company

At a time when stories of gross abuses of power enter the public domain on a daily basis, Ulster American is a confrontational black comedy from James Tait Black Award-winner David Ireland (Cyprus Avenue), which places consent and the confusions of cultural identity at its heart. Jay is the Oscar-winning actor taking the lead in a new play that connects with his Irish roots. Leigh is the ambitious director who will do anything to get noticed. And Ruth is the Northern Irish playwright whose voice must be heard. As the three meet to discuss the play's challenges and provocations, wine is drunk, and the heated discussion quickly escalates to a brutal climax. Directed by Traverse Associate Director Gareth Nicholls (Letters to Morrissey, How to Disappear), with additional support from the JMK Trust.


UK Premiere. Iseult Golden and David Horan in association with The Abbey Theatre

Theatre makers Iseult Golden and David Horan - independent artists who have worked together on new adaptations and original work for over a decade - turn their hand to an explosive exploration of class as a parent-teacher meeting goes spectacularly awry. Recently separated parents Brian and Donna attend a school meeting to discuss their nine-year-old son, but they clash on the teacher's belief that their son is struggling and should see a psychologist. Having never enjoyed school themselves, and never liked teachers, they're unwilling to trust this one - and indeed, who or what is to say that they should? A triple confrontation occurs, holding up a mirror to our fractured society as it goes. Directed by Iseult Golden and David Horan. First produced in association with the Civic Theatre and the Dublin Theatre Festival.

On The Exhale

UK Premiere. China Plate and Audible in association with New Theatre Royal Plymouth

With headlines of US school shootings and gun violence becoming an all too familiar occurrence, On The Exhale is an intimate and emotionally charged one-woman performance that explores both the heart-wrenching aftermath of a parent losing a child and the intoxicating power of gun ownership. Originally inspired by the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings of 2012, Martín Zimmerman's piece is a compulsive and visceral examination of American gun violence, told from the perspective of a grieving mother who, desperate to understand the last moments of her son's life, becomes obsessed with the weapon that killed him. Directed by The Gate Theatre's former Artistic Director, Christopher Haydon (Diary of a Madman, Grounded, The Christians).

Coriolanus Vanishes

Re-staging. Fire Exit Presents, in co-production with Tron Theatre

Having intentionally written the central role to be genderless, Fire Exit Artistic Director David Leddy presents a re-staging of his 2017 hit, Coriolanus Vanishes. Originally performed by Leddy himself, this time it will be performed word-for-word by a woman. Following three major bereavements, Chris - performed here by Irene Allan - finds herself in prison awaiting trial but she doesn't know why. What follows is a suspenseful psychological thriller, which combines bold theatricality, haunting music and sharp flashes of light across a stark stage to chart Chris's complex descent through passion, shame, devastation and the many forms of madness. Directed by David Leddy. Part of Made in Scotland Showcase 2018.

The Greatest Play in the History of the World...

Scottish Premiere. Tara Finney Productions in association with Royal Exchange Theatre

Squashed full of exquisite observation and heartbreaking beauty, The Greatest Play in the History of the World... is a one-woman play starring Julie Hesmondhalgh (Coronation Street, Broadchurch), written for her by her writer husband Ian Kershaw (Coronation Street, Cold Feet, Shameless). It invites the audience onto an unassuming street, where a man wakes in the middle of the night to discover that the world has stopped. Through the crack in his bedroom curtains he can see no signs of life at all, other than a light in the house opposite, where a woman in an over-sized Bowie t-shirt stands, looking back at him. A love story, set on Preston Road, but also in space and time, this thought-provoking piece gently and passionately interrogates everything of importance - from the meaning of love, to the endless possibilities of science. Directed by Raz Shaw (WIT, UK Theatre Awards Best Director 2016).


User Not Found

World Premiere. Dante or Die presents...

Exploring a topic that only seems to gain in relevance and column inches, Dante or Die- innovators in site-specific theatre - join forces with pioneering theatre-maker Chris Goode to examine what happens to our digital identities after we die. Created by Dante or Die's Joint Artistic Directors Daphna Attias and Terry O'Donovan (who is also the performer), and written by Chris Goode, User Not Found uses their combined talents in reinventing the dramatic form to present an intimate and quietly voyeuristic piece of theatre. Performed off-site in the local Jeelie Piece café on Leven Street using smartphones and headphones, it invites the audience to become a fly-on-the-wall of one man faced with keeping or deleting his deceased ex-partner's online identity. A humorous and personal story of contemporary grief unfolds that gently interrogates our need for connection and the fate of our digital after lives. Directed by Daphna Attias.



Rehearsed Readings. Wildfire Theatre

The first development piece from brand new Edinburgh-based company Wildfire Theatre, which aims to change the perceptions and expectations of working class women. Founders Molly Innes, Pauline Lockhart, Wendy Seager and Natalie Arle-Toyne booked community centres all over Edinburgh, distributed flyers, and sat and waited. Through the door came women with amazing stories - passionate and brave women willing to share their writing for the first time. With an email inbox bursting with new scripts from unlikely storytellers, Wildfire Theatre was born. Project #1 brings two of those voices, Frances McCann and Claire McCracken, to the Traverse stage. A selection of their work will be presented as performed readings. Developed with support from Traverse Theatre Company, and the City of Edinburgh Council.

Theatre Uncut: Women on Power

Multi award-winning political agitators Theatre Uncut return to the Traverse to present two mornings of new writing and fiery debate from The Power Plays - a set of short plays written by some of the UK's most dynamic female playwrights, including Vivienne Franzmann, Cordelia Lynn and Sabrina Mahfouz, examining power from the female perspective. As the world rocks with the gender politics debate, Theatre Uncut: Women on Power will also invite a cast of guests from across the Festival to discuss this historic moment in the fight for gender equality. Theatre Uncut plays are available to download and can be performed by anyone, anywhere, free of charge. Over 6,000 people across 26 countries have performed Theatre Uncut plays so far. Directed by Theatre Uncut's co-Artistic Directors Emma Callander and Hannah Price.

Spotlight at #TravFest18

The Traverse is delighted to welcome Spotlight: The Home of Casting as a Festival Partner for Traverse Festival 2018. Together we will present two In Conversation at the Traverse: Live Podcast events, hosted by Traverse Artistic Director Orla O'Loughlin and recorded live for a new podcast series. A unique opportunity to join two celebrated artists performing at Traverse Festival - Julie Hesmondhalgh (The Greatest Play in the History of the World...) and Mark Thomas (Check Up: Our NHS @ 70) - as they talk about the personal and political behind their work and what it means to create theatre today. Uniting Spotlight's and the Traverse Theatre's passion for talent development we will deliver Traverse Open Workshops, a series of workshops over two days from leading artists and focused on performance. Cast Open: A Spotlight Discussion will ask how the industry can change the conversation around casting, and will feature a panel including the Traverse Artistic Team, Spotlight Executives and key UK producing theatre companies.

TalkFest 2018

A fixture at the Traverse since 2011, Playwrights' Studio Scotland present TalkFest 2018 -- a series of lively discussions giving the audience the opportunity to meet with and discuss the work of the artists behind the wider Festival programme. Interrogating the themes and issues raised within this year's Festival - including the balance of power in theatre, and the expectations placed on young theatre-makers today - and how these themes feed into and are reflected in the creative process. Each discussion will be chaired by a leading playwright or theatre-maker, with Lynda Radley, Sarah Rose Graber, Alan McKendrick, and Jenny Knotts each taking a turn.


Four brand new writers from the UK and USA graduating from MSc in Playwriting at Edinburgh University present readings from their brand new plays. Enjoy the world premiere of new work by Erica Mack, Felix Maxwell, Madison Pollack and Derek Roland, each showcasing extracts from their work, performed as readings by professional actors.

James Tait Black Prize for Drama 2018: The Award Ceremony

The James Tait Black Prize for Drama celebrates innovative drama produced worldwide. Join the playwrights nominated for this prestigious prize for an afternoon of new plays, culminating in the winner bring revealed. The £10,000 prize is awarded to the play that most clearly demonstrates an original voice and makes a significant contribution to the artform. Extracts from the three plays shortlisted will be performed by a professional cast, followed by thought-provoking discussions with the playwrights themselves.

Orla O'Loughlin, Traverse Artistic Director, says:

"It's a human need to be told stories. Stories offer reflection, challenge and comfort, especially in difficult times. This year's Traverse Festival is ultimately a celebration of stories. Stories about pain and joy, conflict and hope, loss and progress. Stories for now.

Our programme includes eight World Premieres, and contemporary drama from some of the most exciting companies in the UK and beyond - many of whom are visiting the Traverse for the very first time, alongside some firm Festival favourites.

We are proud to be co-producing, alongside Raw Material and in association with Regular Music, What Girls Are Made Of - the first play from the mighty Cora Bissett, charting her rollercoaster rock and roll teenage years, for which we're excited to be able to reveal full casting. Plus, alongside directing duties on Ulster American - an explosive, complex and incredibly timely new play by David Ireland - Traverse Associate Director Gareth Nicholls will be joined by Adura Onashile and Caitlin Skinner in directing this year's Breakfast Plays: Youthquake, featuring the work of three recent graduates of our Traverse Young Writers programme. We look forward to having you with us and sharing these stories with you."

Traverse 1: re-cap

What Girls Are Made Of

World Premiere. A Traverse Theatre Company and Raw Material co-production in association with Regular Music

Actor, musician and theatre director Cora Bissett (director of the award-winning Adam, part of Traverse Festival 2017, and star of the acclaimed Midsummer) takes audiences back to 1992 to tell the autobiographical story of her rollercoaster journey from Fife schoolgirl to indie rock star. A co-production between Traverse Theatre Company and fledgling company Raw Material, written and performed by Bissett with live backing band, What Girls Are Made Of celebrates the euphoric highs (touring with Radiohead, partying with Blur) and epic shitstorms (untrustworthy managers, £40,000 debt) of her young life. Now a mother herself, Bissett's writing draws from her own teenage diaries to question what wisdom we should pass on to the next generation, and which glorious mistakes we should let them make for themselves. Directed by Traverse Artistic Director Orla O'Loughlin, with additional support from the JMK Trust. Part of Made in Scotland Showcase 2018.

Update: full casting (alongside Cora Bissett) will be Susan Bear, Simon Donaldson, and Grant O'Rourke.

Nigel Slater's 'Toast'

Scottish Premiere. PW Productions present The Lowry production of...

Based on food writer, journalist and broadcaster Nigel Slater's bestselling memoir, 'Toast: The Story of a Boy's Hunger' (winner of six awards, and adapted into a BBC radio production and a film starring Helena Bonham Carter and Freddie Highmore), the all-new stage version is a vivid recreation of the story of Slater's childhood. It takes audiences on a journey through the foods and smells he grew up with - including the humble slice of toast, which his mother could be relied upon to burn ' surely as the sun rises each morning'. From making the perfect sherry trifle, waging war over cakes, through to the playground politics of sweets and the rigid rules of restaurant dining, this is a moving and evocative tale of love, loss and... toast. Adapted by Henry Filloux-Bennett and directed by Jonnie Riordan. Originally produced by The Lowry for its annual Week 53 arts festival.

Underground Railroad Game

UK premiere. Soho Theatre presents the Ars Nova production of...

2017 OBIE Award Winner for Best New American Theatre Work, Underground Railroad Game is a fourth-wall-breaking, unfiltered examination of one America's most toxic legacies. Created and performed by Jennifer Kidwell and Scott R. Sheppard, it uses Sheppard's real-life fifth-grade lesson on the United States Civil War as a jumping off point. This bold and fearless comedy starts as a standard teaching exercise about the Underground Railroad and quickly spirals into social and political commentary on race relations in contemporary America. The deft creative duo dismantles the tropes of American history, revealing the underbelly of its race, sex and power politics. Developed and produced by adventurous New York Theatre Company Ars Nova. Directed by Taibi Magar.

Check Up: Our NHS at 70

World premiere. Mark Thomas and Lakin McCarthy Entertainment Ltd

Just about as busy a man as you get in theatre... Since last August, Mark Thomas has toured his 2017 sell-out Fringe show A Show that Gambles on the Future, before devising and touring a whole new show - Showtime from the Frontline - which appeared at the Traverse Theatre to a string of five-star reviews. In the short time since, Thomas has turned his attention to our very own National Health Service, with Check Up: Our NHS at 70 sparked by the realisation that, if he, now aged 54, makes it to 84, then the NHS will be 100. What will they both look like? Based on a series of interviews with leading experts in and on the NHS, residencies in hospitals and surgeries, and with theatre director Nicolas Kent, Thomas uses his own demise to explore the state we're in - what's going wrong in our NHS, how can we fix it, and what might the future hold for us all. Directed by Nicolas Kent.


World premiere. Headlong in association with Birmingham Repertory Theatre

Playwright Penelope Skinner (The Village Bike and Linda at the Royal Court) marks her return to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe following the tour of her first play, Fucked, back in 2008. An unflinching and mysterious new work presented by the ever-innovative Headlong, Meek is an urgent reflection of our own fraught times, examining state control and self-control in an unknown theocratic society. With freedom of expression prohibited, and private lives interpreted as political, central character Irene finds herself imprisoned for something seemingly harmless. As tales of her incarceration spread and her growing exposure becomes a threat, she is forced to make a brutal, but brave decision, in this haunting vision of ruthless authoritarianism, tense friendships and one woman's determination not to be broken by the impossible situation she finds herself in. Directed by Headlong's Associate Director Amy Hodge.

Open Submissions

As Scotland's only theatre wholly dedicated to new writing, we strive to discover, nurture and produce the brightest new voices across Scotland, the UK and Ireland. Open Submissions connects us with new work and new writers; it is the first step of a creative and fruitful journey from page to stage. We are open to new, innovative ideas, and we would like to hear from all writers with a bold and brilliant story to tell. A story that could only be told on the Traverse stages. Five of the most vital and bold plays submitted will receive dramaturgical support and development with the Traverse's artistic team, and will be presented as part of a festival of new writing in 2019. We particularly encourage submissions from voices and communities which are under-represented in theatre - both onstage and off. Provoke us, entice us, move us and tell us your story. Submissions will be open from 1 August to 30 September 2018. For guidelines and details of how to submit your play, visit the Traverse website. Open Submissions is supported by the Foyle Foundation.

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