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The Traverse is excited to kick off its 2021 programming with its biggest ever series of creative development activity with its First Stages Festival.

First Stages Festival is a celebration of the Traverse’s commitment to nurturing and supporting new voices, and expanding the skills of new and experienced creatives with the ambition of producing ever more transportive and meaningful experiences for audiences. This year’s First Stages Festival offers a wide range of interactive workshops, Q&As, readings and creative prompts for first time writers to seasoned theatremakers.

Every event in the programme will be open for anyone in the world to participate in.

Highlights include live focused workshops with writers Ella Hickson (on how to tackle big ideas), Hannah Lavery (on writing from autobiography), Nessah Muthy (on writing for a digital landscape), Simon Stephens (on generating material and developing characters), Robbie Gordon and Jack Nurse (on creating work in and for a community), and a special Q&A session with Enda Walsh during which participants will be able to ask the internationally acclaimed theatremaker their most pressing questions.

Crocodile Fever writer Meghan Tyler will be presenting an on-demand and free-of-charge four- part workshop for first-time writers, ANYONE CAN WRITE A PLAY, and each weekday a creative prompt will be released to shake up ways of creative thinking and ignite exciting new ideas.

Rounding off the Festival will be a showcase of 3 livestreamed readings from writers who submitted their work to the Traverse’s 2019 Open Submissions initiative, and who have been working with the Traverse’s Literary Associate, Eleanor White, over the past year to develop their scripts. The writers are Dipo Baruwa-EttiSerafina CusackMichael John O’NeillEmilie Robson and Isla van Tricht, with the readings directed by the Traverse’s Co-Artistic Director, Gareth Nicholls, and Co-Artistic Director Designate, Debbie Hannon. Each reading will be followed by a Q&A with the writers, hosted by acclaimed playwrights including Douglas Maxwell, through which audiences can contribute to the future development of the pieces.

A limited number of £1 tickets will be available for all ticketed events, available to those in receipt of government benefits and allowances.

Traverse Theatre Literary Associate, Eleanor White, says:

“I am thrilled that the Traverse is beginning the year with First Stages Festival – a celebration of creative development and dynamic new voices. Supporting writers in developing their craft is one of the Traverse’s fundamental commitments, and we’ve continued this work in earnest over the past year. This programme of workshops, Q&As and readings is designed to generate conversations about creative writing and new ways of thinking about theatre – where established artists, aspiring creatives, and audience members can come together, get involved, expand their creative horizons and plot a course forward together.  We’re particularly delighted to be share with the world readings from five form-pushing, thought-provoking plays currently in development – and to invite the input of our audiences into the future of these pieces, an exchange that’s vital to the theatrical process.”

The full First Stages Festival programme can be found at traverse.co.uk/whats-on/first-stages-festival

All events currently available in Traverse 3 can be browsed at traverse.co.uk/whats-on/traverse-festival


First Stages Festival
Mon 1 – Sun 28 Feb
Various dates and times
Tickets: traverse.co.uk/whats-on/first-stages-festival

A limited number of £1 tickets will be available for all ticketed events, available to those in receipt of government benefits and allowances.

Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge St, Edinburgh, EH1 2ED  I  traverse.co.uk

WHAT’S ON FEBRUARY: New digital play, An Isolated Incident starts this week

Actor and playwright Kenny Boyle’s newest work starts this week.

An Isolated Incident is a new play presented digitally in six parts. Through six interconnected monologues, each delivered by up and coming or well established actors from the world of Scottish theatre, An Isolated Incident explores how people deal with isolation and the removal of our comforts and coping mechanisms. The play explores the mental health repercussions of fear and loneliness, the impact on the very young and on the elderly of being cut off from social interaction, and the terrible emotional cost for those with no one to reach out to. It also explores the various techniques–be those exercise, TV, or escaping into an inner fantasy world –that we use to help us adapt to this new normal. Each monologue has a strong focus on mental health and mental wellbeing. Each also has an unwavering dedication to the importance of speaking out, reaching out and destroying stigma. Most crucially each revolves around an incident of human kindness and connection and contains that most valuable of things: hope.

The play will be available to watch online for free starting from the 4th of February 2021, here: https://www.facebook.com/KennyBoyleOfficial.

Kenny Boyle said: “2020 and the start of 2021 have been different for everyone, but it they have been unanimously hard. We truly believe that this shared worldwide hardship has given us all more empathy. If we manage to reach even one person who’s struggling with the mental health implications of loneliness and make them feel less alone then we feel as though we’ll have achieved something immeasurable.

This is only possible thanks to the support of Creative Scotland and we are delighted that they have afforded us this opportunity to tell these stories and to do something that, in some small way, makes people feel less isolated, and more connected.

As is the case with most theatre during this unusual time An Isolated Incident is filmed entirely on iPhones, edited on a free software on a home PC’s that valiantly do their best to rise to the challenge of video editing, and the performances are all captured remotely from actors hiding under blankets to improve audio quality. At its heart, it’s a lockdown iPhone project… but we hope it’s a really good iPhone lockdown project.

We are proud to be collaborating with Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline to raise awareness of domestic abuse during lockdown – particularly in the episode named “werewolf”

With permission, we provide the details of SAMH on all of the episodes so that anyone affected by the mental health issues we discuss knows there is somewhere to turn. SAMH have no direct involvement with the project other than permitting us to signpost them.”

Episode 1 is written and performed by Kenny Boyle an actor and playwright from the Isle of Lewis. Kenny trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and is a recipient of Playwrights’ Studio, Scotland’s New Playwrights’ award 2021. Kenny plays the lead role of Rob in feature film Lost at Christmas.  

Episode 2 is performed by Karen Bartke an actress and voiceover artist based in Glasgow. On screen she is best known as Officer Karen in the BAFTA winning mockumentary Scot Squad, audio credits include Alien: River of Pain and Sandman for Audible UK. She’s the winner of the BBC Audio Drama Award for Best Debut Performance in 2016 (My Name Is, dir. Philip Osment), and winner of the Norman Beaton Fellowship 2016

Episode 3 is performed by Natalie Clark a Glasgow based actress who most recently completed a tour of Scotland with Rapture Theatre in The Browning Version. TV credits include Still Game and Royal History’s Biggest Fibs for the BBC. Feature film credits include Love Bite, Lost at Christmas, and the upcoming film The Last Bus.

Episode 4 is performed by Gillian Massey a Glasgow based actor with a diverse background in both live and on-screen performances. She made her Edinburgh Fringe debut in the three-hander comedy Irrelevant, which was shortlisted for the Scottish Arts Club Theatre Award, and returned to the Fringe in the one-woman play The Lament of Dorothy Wordsworth, which also ran at Glasgow’s West End Festival. More recently, she has appeared in online shows for Short Attention Span Theatre and The Gaiety Theatre.

Episode 5 is performed by John Michael-Love who featured in Series 1 of popular TV Show Outlander, and recently featured in Police Scotland’s 2020 campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of online grooming. His stage roles include Polonius in Bard in the Botanics’ 2014 production of ‘Hamlet’ and Jack Jarvis in Sonic Boom Theatre Company’s 2012/2013 reboot of the original ‘Still Game’ stage show.”

Episode 6 is performed by the entire ensemble working remotely across Scotland from the Outer Hebrides to the Borders and in between.