NxNE: North by North East – Touring Scottish Talent

19 May 2011 in Dance & Drama

EIGHT performing companies based in Scotland are set to hit the road around the Highlands & Islands and the North East, courtesy of a new touring fund.

NORTH by North East – Touring Scottish Talent is an initiative aimed at taking Scottish talent out and about to venues all over its target areas. Over the next year the  scheme will deliver 80 performances to northern audiences, targeted specifically at rural venues with catchment populations of under 3000.

North by North East logo

The successful companies have successfully negotiated the selection process, winning though from a very high quality field of applicants. The touring performances were selected via an open application process which attracted 32 Scottish companies. The selection panel directly consulted over 70 rural promoters, who were invited to choose the performances they would like to see tour to their venues.

Thus, the promoters working in the small venues, often as volunteers, were directly involved in selecting the work. Their collaboration in the selection process was an effective way of linking decision making within the scheme, since the local promoters know their communities best.

Four of the companies, Charioteer Theatre, a collaboration between Mull Theatre & Wildbird, Open Book and Vision Mechanics, will tour in 2011, and four more, Reeling & Writhing, Bright Night International, Dannsa and Cartoon Theatre, in 2012.

NxNE is administered by the Northern Scottish Touring Fund (NSTF), a new interactive funding scheme which awards production and touring grants to Scottish theatre and dance companies. It also supports the selected performances with marketing (through branding, social networking, printing and distribution) and tour booking services.

The NSTF’s aim is to encourage future artistic collaborations between promoters and theatre and dance makers in Scotland, and to enable the potential of local promoters to commission indigenous theatre and dance in the North of Scotland, all aimed at strengthening the sector.

The NSTF project was developed over 18 months after wide consultation in the northern arts sector  with performers, makers, promoters, arts development agencies and local audiences.

In March 2010, The Scottish Government and Creative Scotland awarded the scheme £200,000 through The Innovation Fund.  Following this, matching investment was secured from Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the LEADER 2007-2013 Programme. The Leader investment was cross regional with investment from Highland, Cairngorm, Moray, Aberdeenshire and Outer Hebrides.

The NSTF pilot scheme is managed by a consortium  comprising HITN (Highlands and Islands Theatre Network), PAN (Promoters Arts Network), NEAT (North East Arts Touring)  and Hi-Arts. The lead partner delivering the scheme is HITN.

The Fund aims to encourage performances to be produced far as possible in the North of Scotland, and to enable new collaborations between artists and promoters  in these regions. The applicant companies have involved theatre makers who are based in the NSTF area, and other Scottish performance makers from other parts of Scotland ­ an eclectic mix of Scottish talent. The scheme offers small grants of up to £45,000 per project to Scottish Theatre and dance companies.

The aim of this is to take the performances to venues and promoters who are trying to develop their audiences for theatre, or to new and existing community halls who are not able to regularly include professional theatre and dance in their community programming.

North by North East will have its own interactive website (see link below). The new website aims to promote all the touring performances, link with the promoters, and showcase film and audio clips of the performances. Audiences can also comment, discuss and give feedback on the touring performances via the social networking platforms.

Wildbird & Mull Theatre’s The Mysterious Death of Netta Fornario and Charioteer Theatre’s I’m A Shakespearean Character! Get Me Out of Here! begin touring on 28 May 2011.

The productions chosen for the scheme are:

Mull Theatre & Wildbird – The Mysterious Death of Netta Fornario

A co-production by Mull Theatre and Wildbird. A Gothic tale of magic, madness, murder and mystery set on Iona in 1930. Mixes fiction with real events of the unexplained and still controversial death of Netta Fornario, using stagecraft to create a spine chilling audience experience.




Charioteer Theatre – I’m A Shakespearean Character! Get Me Out Of Here!

Prospero believes modern life has alienated the public from appreciating the value of the classics. Gathering the lead characters of all Shakespeare’s plays on an island, the Reality Show format asks the audience to consider the characters and their plays from a more contemporary perspective. An interactive show with supporting workshop programmes.


Open Book  – Macbeth by William Shakespeare

In this modern staging of Shakespeare’s classic Scottish play, Macbeth is trapped by his paranoia as his family, his friends and fate itself turn against him. Set around a dinner table placing the banquet at the centre of the action and the audience as guests, combining theatre and illusion.


The Puppet Lab / Vision Mechanics – Dark Matter

Dark Matter will be a spine tingling story set in a garden large enough to accommodate an audience of 25 – 30 at a time. It will be entertaining and scary, suitable for 14+ and will ride the zeitgeist of current vampire horror flicks to appeal to the ‘hard to reach’ youth audience 15 – 20 years old.


Reeling and Writhing : Formel

The tragic love story of Formel and the men who love her, and the Golden Eagles in the skies around her, extensively using multi-channel surround-sound.


Bright Night International : Jamp

A new four-person dance-circus performance inspired by parkour, where an ordinary street becomes an acrobatic playground. Uses a modular custom built set designed for teaching.


Dannsa:  Connections  – Cape Breton and Scotland

Connections creates and tours new work, exploring connections, old and new, close and far, past and present, Cape Breton and Scotland.


Cartoon Theatre : A Sporting Chance

Let the fun and games begin! a comedy adventure as one man battles with his personal athletic best, combines live performance and animation.


© HITN & Northings, 2011