Starting on August 7, Pitlochry Festival Theatre will launch not one, but four months of online premières, as part of its three-year Shades of Tay project, reimagined at the start of lockdown with immediacy for these challenging times.
The series of new digitals works – titled A Love Letter to Scotland and written by an exciting lineup of British playwrights and poets including Timberlake Wertenbaker, Jo Clifford, Hannah Khalil, Peter Arnott, Abi Zakarian and Chinonyerem Odimba, and brought to life by the theatre’s 2020 Summer Season ensemble – will form a vital part of the theatre’s tri-daily, digital series #PFTLightHopeJoy, which launched just before lockdown began, and created to respond to the uncertain and isolating world in which we now find ourselves.
Inspired by the River Tay and its surrounding landscape – including Scotland’s multi-award-winning, world-renowned outdoor extravaganza, The Enchanted Forest, with whom these commissions are in partnership – the works will be performed as audio dramas, podcasts, short films. The cast will also perform the short works later in a live festival after the Theatre reopens.
The first piece will launch on Friday 7 August with Douglas Maxwell’s new work, Beautiful Boy and will then continue weekly until late November, with new works to look forward to from Timberlake Wertenbaker, Stephen Greenhorn, Peter Arnott, Jo Clifford, Abi Zakarian, Hannah Khalil, Chinonyerem Odimba, Daniel Bye, Oliver Emanuel, Hannah Lavery, Jenny Lindsay, Martin McCormick, Linda McLean, Michael O’Neill, Frances Poet, Dan Rebellato, Ellie Stewart and Morna Young.
More new works will appear online throughout December from Deborah McAndrew, Bert Clark, Sally Reid, Lesley Hart and May Sumbwanyambe.
Each piece will be performed by one of Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s 2020 Summer Season cast, including Kirsty Stuart and Richard Standing, whom Pitlochry Theatre fans would have seen in the hugely-acclaimed production of Brian Friel’s Faith Healer last Autumn; as well as Barbara Hockaday, and Rachael McAllister, who both made their debut in 2019.
Speaking about the project, Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s Artistic Director, Elizabeth Newman, said: “The writing that has been produced by this extraordinary group of writers has been simply incredible. The writers have approached the task with their own personal verve and, therefore, each piece is unique, rich, powerful and offers up the identity of the individual’s voice too. Amy and I worked with the Ensemble to produce the recordings and then I went on to work with Nick Trueman (from Pitlochry Festival Theatre) and artist Russell Beard to create the companion films. This was a joy for us to create for audiences. “
All the new works will be captioned, free to access and share, and intended as gifts to those isolated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and those who feel isolated from Theatre in general.
The commissioned work for Shades of Tay is not limited to writing, with plans for bio-sculpting, a water installation, song-writing – including Tay Songs by Ball Boy, and She-Town Ballad by Lila Clements and Tarek Merchant – and for children, Ligach and the Salmon, a story by Lynda Radley, and a Beaver Ballad, written and performed by renowned playwright and sound designer, Isobel McArthur and MJ McCarthy.
All Shades of Tay commissions will première on Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s online platforms, including YouTube: https://bit.ly/PFT_YouTube where all videos from the #PFTLightHopeJoy series can be followed.