It’s James IV!

Jun 25 2021 | By More

Rona Munro revisits and extends James Plays

Rona Munro is to return to the Kings James for her next play, James IV – Queen of the Fight, which will premiere at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre in the autumn of 2022 before touring Scotland.

Munro also announced that the production is part of a longer strategy to extend her original trilogy into a saga, revealing the hidden histories of the Scottish people with plays set to cover Scottish monarchs up to James VI of Scotland and I of England.

It is also part of a larger ambition from Capital Theatres under CEO Fiona Gibson to create for themselves a more central role in the creative life of Scotland’s theatre sector.

Laurie Sansom and Rona Munro on the stage of the Festival Theatre. Pic: Greg Macvean.

James IV will be helmed by Laurie Sansom, who returns to the award-winning James Plays project which he helped start while artistic director at the National Theatre of Scotland and which premiered at the same venue during the EIF in 2014. It is co-produced by Capital Theatres and Glasgow’s indy producers Raw Material with support from the National Theatre of Scotland.

James IV – Queen of the Fight explores a world where war is never far away, words of love and promises of peace are not what they seem and where poets might turn out to be more dangerous than any assassin.

This is Scotland in 1504 and it is seen fresh through the eyes of new arrivals, Ellen and Anne, two Moorish women who were expected to take their place at a royal court… but not this one. Both women now have to fight to find and keep a place in the dazzling, dangerous world of the Scottish Court of James IV.

continue that excitement

Rona Munro describes her work on the first three James Plays – James I – The Key Will Keep the Lock, James II – The Day of the Innocents and James III – The True Mirror, as “among the most exciting and the most satisfying theatre productions I’ve ever been part of”.

She says: “To be able to continue this work, with Laurie and with this team is, for me, to continue that excitement.”

Laurie Sansom said: “It’s a great privilege to be returning to the world created by Rona in the first trilogy of James Plays. It was probably the most challenging and rewarding creative project I have worked on, and it’s now thrilling to be realising a long-held ambition to continue the story with the support of Raw Material, Capital Theatres and the National Theatre of Scotland.”

James II. Photo: Manuel Harlan

Hopefully, this will not be the end of the James Plays, however, as Munro is wanting to extend the saga into the 17th century.

Munro adds: “My larger ambition is to extend the Stewart history of Scotland through James V, Mary Queen of Scots and to conclude with James VI who became James I of England.

“My hope is that I can make this history more accessible, make those invisible in history visible again and provide a representation of the most potent and telling truth of history- it was made by people like us.”

Fiona Gibson, CEO of Capital Theatres expressed her excitement at working on the project, saying that it heralds a more proactive role for the theatre charity and reveals a growing ambition for its role in Scotland’s theatre sector.

She said: With this announcement we are also revealing a new artistic thread which will continue to enrich our work at Capital Theatres; broadening out our programming by taking a more active role in a select number of co-productions.

central role

“It will allow us to collaborate with a range of fantastic producing partners such as Raw Material and play a central role in the creative life of Scotland’s theatre sector. Having had a sneak peek during the initial development phase of James IV, we can’t wait to see what Rona and Laurie finally create.”

Margaret-Anne O’Donnell, Fiona Gibson & Gillian Garrity. Pic: Greg Macvean

Raw Material, the indy producers of smash hit Glasgow Girls, is run by Gillian Garrity and Margaret-Anne O’Donnell. They say: “As independent producers we are acutely aware of the need for high quality Scottish plays that can perform on some of our largest stages.

“This past year has been challenging across all parts of our sector and we look forward to heralding the return of our creative artists to venues and stages with the best stories and plays that will entertain and delight audiences across Scotland and beyond.”

Jackie Wylie, artistic director of National Theatre of Scotland said: “We are hugely excited to be supporting the next stage in Rona Munro’s ambitious and thrilling historical theatrical saga. We know that audiences will be delighted to have the opportunity to return to the Scottish court and to find out what happens next to Rona’s vividly imagined Scots Royals.

“It’s brilliant to have Laurie Sansom at the helm and to welcome him back to Scottish theatre. We are also proud to be supporting an exciting new producing partnership between Capital Theatres and Raw Material which promises to bring much to audiences, artists and the sector.”


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