Blythe Duff and The Killing's Sofie Grabol star in Edinburgh International Festival theatre trilogy

Sofie Grabol of The Killing stars in Edinburgh International Festival plays

Playwright Rona Munro, whose trilogy The James Plays will appear at 2014 Edinburgh International Festival, contrary to claims by outgoing Festival director that no works addressing Scottish politics were anticipated

The James Plays trilogy by Rona Munro brings Scottish independence debate back to 2014 festival

Following denials in 2013 by outgoing Festival director Jonathan Mills that the 2014 Edinburgh International Festival would go anywhere near the Scottish independence debate, a major trilogy of plays on the theme of Scottishness has been announced for this year’s Festival.

The James Plays is a trilogy of works by award-winning Scottish playwright Rona Munro looking at the three generations of Stewart kings who ruled Scotland in the 15th century, to be staged in Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre in August 2014, and at London’s National Theatre during September and October.

Directed by the NTS’s new artistic director Laurie Sansom, the trilogy stars Scottish actor Blythe Duff and Sofie Gråbøl, better known as Sarah Lund in Danish crime drama The Killing.

Sansom admitted that the plays were ‘a hugely ambitious undertaking for the National Theatre of Scotland’, but stressed that they were not ‘yes’ or ‘no’ plays – instead, he hoped they would ‘sharpen the mind’ ahead of the independence vote.

The James Plays form just one part of the NTS’s Dear Scotland… season, a year-long celebration of what the company calls ‘a country with a lot on its mind’. Beginning with Kieran Hurley’s Rantin, which tours Scotland from January to March, the season continues with Dear Scotland… in April and May at Edinburgh’s Scottish National Portrait Gallery, which brings together 20 monologues from 20 Scottish writers, prompted by 20 of the collection’s works. David Greig and David MacLennan curate The Great Yes, No, Don’t Know, Five Minute Theatre Show in June, which collects 200 micro-theatre shows in a 24-hour event to be streamed online.

The day before the referendum vote itself, more than 100 people selected from across the nation will gather in Edinburgh’s Assembly Hall for Blabbermouth, a 12-hour event on 17 September featuring readings from Scotland’s greatest texts.

The season has a somewhat bleak ending in September and October with In Time o’ Strife, a powerful reimagining of Joe Corrie’s 1926 drama about a Fife family facing hunger and poverty during the General Strike. Whether it catches the Scottish mood immediately post-referendum… well, only time will tell.


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