NTS Rocket Machine

Sep 23 2017 | By More

NTS on Screen launched with Rocket Post

A new initiative, the National Theatre of Scotland on Screen, is to be launched with the filming of a cinema version of its new musical production Rocket Post.

The NTS is linking up with Regional Screen Scotland and the Highlands and Islands mobile cinema, the Screen Machine, for this first step in producing work on different platforms.

Jackie Wylie, NTS artistic director, and Iain MacColl from Regional Screen Scotland launching Rocket Post on screen with the Screen Machine in Harris. Pic: John Maher.

This will be the first time the NTS has screened any of its shows in a cinema. However the current tour is only planned for remote areas and there are currently no plans to screen Rocket Post in Edinburgh.

Rocket Post is a small-scale touring musical, aimed at audiences aged six years and over. It is loosely based on the brief visit of German rocketeer and charlatan Gerhard Zucker to the Western Isles in 1934, ostensibly to prove that a rocket-based postal service could work.

Writer/director Lewis Hetherington and MD Michael John McCarthy, use Zucker’s two attempted rocket launches to look at a moment in time when the possibilities of the future seemed to open up.

The production shows Zucker’s ill-fated attempts through the eyes of a young woman, Bellag. She is inspired by the idea that she could go anywhere – but is still held back by her mother to help look after the family croft.


The show compares the ambitions of MJ Deans as Bellag and Gavin Swift as Zucker with the reality of what has happened since, and hints at what our ambitiosn might be. If features original music by MJ McCarthy, together with memorable versions of Elton John’s Rocket Man and the Clash’s Should I Stay or Should I Go.

MJ Deans and Gavin Swift. Pic: Eoin Carey.

The live production is touring to 14 small venues only, with its closest performance to Edinburgh at Falkirk Town Hall on October 17. Following the tour it will be filmed at a special performance on Harris, at the Tarbert Community Centre on October 25, under the direction of Donald MacInnes.

The filmed production will preview on Orkney in November 2017, followed by an official opening in Millport on December 8 and a Highlands and Islands tour in early 2018. The full tour schedule will be announced in November.

The NTS says: “This is the first National Theatre of Scotland on Screen project and marks the beginning of the company producing work on different platforms, offering innovative new ways for audiences to experience National Theatre of Scotland productions.”

Although this is a first NTS screening for cinema audiences, it is not the NTS’s first foray into recorded work. In 2011, it celebrated its fifth birthday with Five Minute Theatre, 24 hours of five-minute works, performed to an online audience from hubs around Scotland.

remote communities

The company adds that the project, continues the ethos of the NTS to tour widely throughout Scotland, reaching as many audiences as possible with its work and to ensure that remote communities get access to their National Theatre’s programme.

Jackie Wylie, the NTS artistic director and chief executive commented on the announcement: “To be partnering with Regional Screen Scotland marks an exciting new chapter in the National Theatre of Scotland’s digital and broadcast journey.

“Ensuring we reach audiences across the whole of Scotland is of vital importance to the company and the screen version of Rocket Post will allow us to do this, in style, on board the fabulous Screen Machine.”

Rocket Post on tour:
Sat 23 Sept Stornoway
An Lanntair
01851 708 480 Book online
Tue 26 |Sept Ullapool
McPhail Centre
Book online
Thurs 28 Sept Thurso
Mill Theatre
01847 894698 Book online
Sat 30 Sept Forres
Findhorn Bay Arts (Forres Town Hall)
Book online
Tue 3 Oct Tarland
Macrobert Memorial Hall
Book online
Wed 4 Oct Aberdeenshire
Portsoy Church Hall
Book online
Thurs 5 Oct Aberdeen
Aberdeen Arts Centre
01224 641122 Book online
Sat 7 Oct Glasgow
Mount Vernon Community Centre
Book online
Mon 9-Tue 10 Oct St Andrews
Byre Theatre
01334 475000 Book online
Fri 13 Oct Giffnock
Eastwood Park Theatre
0141 577 4956 Book online
Sat 14 Oct Stirling
Macrobert Arts Centre
01786 466666 Book online
Mon 16 Oct Alloa
Sauchie Hall
08448 713 017 Book online
Tue 17 Oct Falkirk
Falkirk Town Hall
01324 506850 Book online
Fri 20/Sat 21 Oct Paisley
Paisley Arts Centre
0300 300 1210 Book online

Christina Gordon, Ceit Kearney and MJ Deans. Pic Eoin Carey


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