NTS takes on Orphans

Jun 10 2021 | By More

Peter Mullan musical adaptation heads NTS’s live return

The National Theatre of Scotland is to stage a new musical adaptation of Peter Mullan’s 1997 movie Orphans as part of its return to live performance.

The “raucous new Scottish musical” will see Burnistoun co-creator and performer Robert Florence making his musical theatre debut, It will be directed by Cora Bissett will open in Glasgow before coming to the Edinburgh King’s from 12 to 16 April 2022.

Concept image for Orphans by Peter Dibdin, directed by Cora Bissett.

Orphans has a book by Douglas Maxwell with lyrics and score by Roddy Hart and Tommy Reilly. Director Cora Bissett Bissett describes the Glasgow-set movie about four siblings on a stormy night after the death of their mother, as the “quintessential cult Scottish film” adding that the new musical version could not be more timely.

She says: “Over the last 18 months we have lost family, jobs, relationships, health and…. hope – and in some ways we are just finding it again. This musical is about raw grief, and the madness that lies within that.  The emotions are epic and messy and the songs raucous, and heart aching.”

The rest of the new programme is either work that had to be postponed due to Covid or will be performed in a digital format.

Hannah Lavery’s Lament for Sheku Bayoh will play the Lyceum as part of the EIF’s previously announced 2021 August programme. Lavery also has a digital work Thirteen Fragments, co-commissioned with the Royal Society of Edinburgh, premiering online during the RSE’s summer events programme, Curious, on 9 August 2021.

touring production

The first touring production from the NTS will be The Enemy, Kieran Hurley’s contemporary Scottish re-imagining of Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, directed by Finn den Hertog, which had been in rehearsals in March 2019.

Set during a public health crisis, The Enemy scrutinises corruption and power amidst a changing media landscape and explores what it means to hold power to account in a post-truth political world.

Members of the original cast are reunited for the production’s delayed premiere in Dundee in October and playin the Edinburgh King’s 19 – 23 October 2021.

Hannah Donaldson and Gabriel Quigley as the Stockmann sisters in The Enemy.

In this radical reworking, Dr Stockman and his brother are played by women. Hannah Donaldson and Gabriel Quigley as the Stockmann sisters are joined by an ensemble that includes Neil McKinven, Taqi Nazeer and Eléna Redmond.

Enough of Him is Edinburgh-based playwright May Sumbwanyambe’s take on the true history of Joseph Knight, an enslaved African man brought to Scotland by plantation owner John Wedderburn in 1769 to serve in his Perthshire mansion.

Joseph Knight became a notable figure in a landmark legal battle that saw him successfully challenge his status as a slave in the Scottish courts after several appeals.

This victory affirmed that Scots Law could not uphold the institution of slavery in Scotland, a ruling that would make a profound contribution to paving the way for the abolition of slavery in Scotland and Britain.

The coproduction with Pitlochry Festival Theatre will open there in March with further tour dates to be announced.

The final online work, Carry Me Home – A Ferry Tale, will stream in September 2021 on the National Theatre of Scotland website. This short film, scripted by Seth Hardwick and Viv Gee, follows on from the NTS’s Ferry Tales project in 2020 and is a celebration of the waters surrounding Scotland’s western isles – and the voyages over them.


Jackie Wylie, the NTS artistic director said: “This programme not only marks the Company’s journey out of lockdown back into theatres, but the theme of journeying can be found throughout the programme, each production weaving a compelling narrative, in the way that is unique to theatre.”

She added: “It is vital that the National Theatre of Scotland continues collaborating with as many partners and venues as possible and creating employment opportunities for artists and freelancers so we can give much needed support to the sector at this critical stage. We welcome them all to join us in our hopeful journey back to being with audiences once more and sharing the unique experience of live performance that we have missed for so long”


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