Factfile: National Theatre of Scotland

A profile of Scotland's national theatre company

Factfile: National Theatre of Scotland

What is it?

Launched in 2006, the NTS aims to put all theatrical activity in Scotland, from community drama to mainstage classics, on a national footing.

What’s the big deal?

Billing itself as a ‘theatre without walls’, the NTS has no building of its own and operates within the existing infrastructure of Scottish theatre. Although it does put on some productions entirely under its own name, it is just as likely to collaborate with other companies. This enables it to celebrate the talents already at large across the country and prevents it from becoming the kind of central monolith that other national theatres have become. It also allows it to champion all forms of theatre, from site-specific plays to Christmas shows, without being tied down to one type of theatre. It’s an innovative structure that has since been borrowed by National Theatre Wales.

What’s its claim to fame?

By a tremendous stroke of fortune, the NTS had its biggest hit in its very first year. Gregory Burke’s Black Watch, a large-scale show relating the experience of Fife squaddies in Iraq, was the hit of the 2006 Edinburgh Fringe and is still on tour internationally today. Other triumphs include a one-man Macbeth starring Alan Cumming, a spooky version of A Christmas Carol and David Greig’s pub-based comedy-chiller The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart.

Who’s in charge?

Vicky Featherstone is the founder artistic director, building the company from a staff of one to the powerhouse it is today. She is leaving to take on London’s Royal Court at the start of 2013,and will be succeeded by former head of Royal & Derngate in Northampton Laurie Sansom.

Who else is about?

Featherstone’s number two is John Tiffany, the director of Black Watch and Macbeth. Other key players include Simon Sharkey, associate director of Learn, who is responsible for all the big community projects, and Graham McLaren, associate director, whose productions include A Christmas Carol and Men Should Weep.

Beautiful Burnout

A highly physical, immersive dip into the world of boxing and Cameron, a boy who's relying on his fists to take him places, from the National Theatre of Scotland and writer Bryony Lavery.

The Monster in the Hall

Highly successful play by David Greig following the trials of Duck Macatarsney, a teenager who cares for her MS-sufferer father, the Duke. When one morning he wakes up blind, she is told that she is going to be taken into care, something that she will do almost anything to avoid.

The Guid Sisters

Martin Bowman and Bill Findlay's Scots translation of the original Québecois play Les Belles-soeurs. When Germaine Luzon wins a competition, she calls on her family, friends and neighbours help her take advantage. A story about women and economic survival in collaboration with National Theatre of Scotland.

Alan Bissett: The Red Hourglass

A one-man show written and performed by Alan Bissett, who plays five different parts in a witty and erotic performance fusing theatre and storytelling.


A new piece of interactive theatre from Adrian Howells (who notably performed a one-on-one theatre piece at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2011 which involved him tenderly bathing the audience member and feeding them chocolates), exploring our relationship to water and swimming in intimate fashion.

A Christmas Carol

The gloominess of Scrooge's chambers and Victorian poverty is brought eerily to life with haunting puppets for a spooky adaptation of Dickens' Christmas tale. Presented by the National Theatre of Scotland and On at Fife.

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