Next James Play announced

Sep 13 2023 | By More

James V: Katherine to premiere at Festival Studio

Rona Munro’s James Plays, her series of Scottish history plays about the Stewart kings, is to continue with James V: Katherine, which will open at Edinburgh’s Studio Theatre in April 2024 ahead of a Scottish tour.

This is the fifth stand-alone play of the series, which started in 2014 with the NTS’s large scale trilogy of plays about the Kings James I to III, and continued in 2022 with James IV Queen of the Fight. It will be a co-production between Raw Material and Capital Theatres.

James V: Katherine will tour Scotland in April and May 2024.

Munro says that James V: Katherine will be “different in tone and style to the first four but will continue their larger story”.

Direction will be by Orla O’Loughlin, whose recently helmed What Girls Are Made Of and Mouthpiece, both of which attracted strong critical acclaim and commercial success.

In her latest play, Munro continues to move the focus away from the monarchs themselves, as she places the lesser-known historical figure of Katherine Hamilton at the front and centre of the story, in what will be an intimate and up-close performance.

The 19 year-old Katherine is a respectable married woman who harbours a secret love she’s trying to forget. When her brother, Patrick Hamilton, is executed for preaching ideas forbidden by the church, Katherine is also put on trial for her life.

intelligence and wit

In a packed courtroom at Holyrood, watched by most of Edinburgh and the cynical, young King James V, Katherine fights for survival, using her intelligence and wit.

The play is a dramatic interpretation of history – Munro builds a love story in with it – but these events did happen: most notably Katherine’s trial at Holyrood after her brother, a Lutheran, was burned at the stake in St Andrews – itself one of the key events at the very start of the Scottish Reformation.

Rona Munro. Pic: Greg Macvean

According to John Spottiswoode’s The history of the Church of Scotland (1668) during her trial, Katherine was “growing into a chafe” at her long-winded cross examination. Her caustic retort causing James V to laugh “heartily” – before taking her aside for a private conversation.

Munro says of her latest script: “When I first imagined writing this series of Scottish history plays it seemed very unlikely I would have one produced in Scotland, let alone five, however I’ve always known the stories I want to tell with each play – so this moment, when Katherine is going into production, is the realisation of a long held ambition.

“In continuing the cycle I want to surprise audiences with fresh narratives. This play was always intended to be very different in tone and style to the first four but will continue their larger story and, hopefully, my ambition to make invisible histories visible.”


Where the previous four plays were large stagings, with James IV: Queen of the Fight, touring across large-scale venues in Autumn 2022, this is a smaller, much more intimate affair which will be able to tour to small scale venues up and down Scotland, according to co-producers Raw Material.

They say: “We’re led by Rona’s writing, and our instinct with Katherine was to lean into the intimacy of the play and to perform in smaller scale venues that enhance and support this, while also producing epic, high quality story-telling, with director Orla O’Loughlin at the helm.

“We want to bring this tale of love and death, at a time of great change in Scotland’s history, to audiences across the country, from the Highlands to the Borders, engaging with people who have seen the previous James Plays, and those who have not.”

The production also sees Capital Theatres coming on board as co-producers by putting the Studio Theatre to use in the creation of the new production, according to Chief Executive Fiona Gibson.

She says: “As Scotland’s largest theatre charity, it is our goal to support independent producers like Raw Material, and to play our part in creating a resilient artistic environment in which their work can thrive.

“We’re delighted the rehearsals and the world premiere will take place in the intimate surroundings of The Studio, which will enhance the impact of this extraordinary story.”

Casting details will be published at a later date.


James V: Katherine tour dates 2024.

Tickets on sale Wednesday 13 September 2023

Studio Theatre, 22 Potterrow, EH8 9BL.
Fri 5/Sat 6, Tue 9 April 2024
Previews: 7.30pm.
Wed 10 – Sat 20 April 2024
Tue – Sat 7.30pm; Mats Thurs, Sat: 2.30pm.
Tickets and details: Book here.

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
25 – 27 April

Lemon Tree, Aberdeen.
30 April – 4 May

Mull Theatre, Tobermory
7 & 8 May

Eden Court, Inverness
10 & 11 May

Burgh Hall, Dunoon
13 & 14 May

Birnam Arts Centre
17 & 18 May

Byre Theatre, St Andrews
21 & 22 May

Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling
24 & 25 May

Eastgate Theatre, Peebles
28 & 29 May

The Corn Exchange, Melrose
31 May & 1 June


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