UK Tour for National Theatre of Scotland’s James Plays

James McArdle as James I in \The James Plays. Images by Manuel Harlan.
James McArdle in original production as James I in The James Plays. Images by Manuel Harlan.

The James Plays, the epic and acclaimed production by the National Theatre of Scotland, is set for a UK and international tour, it has been announced.

Rona Munro’s plays, directed by Laurie Sansom, are going out on a major UK tour in 2016, visiting 13 venues across England and Scotland.

The productions, originally co-produced with the Edinburgh International Festival and the National Theatre, opened during the Edinburgh International Festival and then subsequently played on the Olivier stage at London’s National Theatre, selling out both runs and playing to over 88,000 people.

The plays went on to win the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best New Play and the Writers Guild Award for Best New Play (James I)

Described by critics as “better than Shakespeare” and “Rona Munro’s thrilling trilogy could be the finest history plays ever penned,” The James Plays, exhilarating and vividly imagined, bring to life three generations of Stewart kings who ruled Scotland from 1406 -1488.

James II

Each play stands alone as a unique vision of a country tussling with its past and future, with its own distinct theatrical atmosphere. Viewed together they create a complex and compelling narrative on Scottish culture and nationhood.

The James Plays are historical drama for a contemporary audience, served up with a modern directness. Audiences are invited to view the performances from the actual stage and share the performer’s perspective of the space.

These seats, built into the set, are at heart of the action, as an ensemble of actors takes the audience through a rarely-explored period of history with playful wit and boisterous theatricality.

Audiences responded enthusiastically to the opportunity of viewing the plays as a complete trilogy, seen over the course of a day.

James III

This production will pioneer a new bespoke touring pattern with English venues offering audiences the chance to see all three plays together, on a Saturday or Sunday.

The Scottish venues performance schedules vary with individual James Plays performances as well as a triple bill of plays on offer.

Rona Munro said: “I have probably never had a better professional experience than I did last year with Laurie and the company of The James Plays.

“The only experience that could top that is to continue the adventure and to bring the plays home to Scotland again. I can’t wait to be back in that rehearsal room and back in front of that audience”

Laurie Sansom, artistic director of the National Theatre of Scotland and director of The James Plays added: “The excitement we all felt at embarking on this journey to bring to life a little known part of Scottish history and stage Rona’s remarkable trilogy, was only matched by the excitement of sharing it with audiences at the EIF and at the National Theatre in London.

“We now have the chance to share it with audiences across the UK which will be a real privilege. We are indebted to all the partners who have made this possible, including the Scottish Government.”

Lisa Burger, executive director of the National Theatre, said: “Our collaboration with the National Theatre of Scotland on Laurie Sansom’s unforgettable production of The James Plays was undoubtedly one of last year’s highlights, setting the Olivier Theatre alight with exhilarating energy every evening.

“We’re delighted that Rona Munro’s tremendous trilogy will live again for audiences around the country.”

Tour Dates

Festival Theatre Edinburgh: James I, Feb 3 & Feb 10; James II, Feb 4 & Feb 1 James III, Feb 5 & Feb 12. Opening performance on Feb 6; Trilogy Day: Feb 13.
Eden Court Theatre, Inverness: Week of 28 March – performance schedule tbc.
King’s Theatre, Glasgow, Week of 4 April – performance schedule tbc.
Royal & Derngate, Northampton, April 16/17, two trilogy days.
The Lowry, Salford Quays, April 23/24, two trilogy days.
Newcastle Theatre Royal, April 30, May 1, two trilogy days.
Sheffield Theatres, May 7/8, two trilogy days.
Norwich Theatre Royal, May 14/15, two trilogy days.
Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, May 21/22, two trilogy days
Theatre Royal Plymouth, May 28/29, two trilogy days.
Curve, Leicester, June 4/5.
Nottingham Theatre Royal, June 11/12.

Watch an earlier trailer:

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