The National Theatre of Scotland: Mapping onto the Landscape
The launch of the National Theatre of Scotland (NTS) in 2006 was an historic moment. Based in administrative offices in Glasgow, but with no theatre building of its own, the NTS was established as a “theatre without walls.” The appointment of Vicky Featherstone, an Englishwoman with a strong understanding of contemporary Scottish theatre and the Scottish theatrical landscape, as the first artistic director of Scotland’s national theatre company sent a clear message regarding the intent of the NTS board. Anyone who hoped that the NTS would attempt to defy the broadly accepted wisdom that Scotland has little by way of a theatrical tradition was going to be disappointed. Featherstone, who had been artistic director of London-based touring company and new writing specialists Paines Plough between 1997 and 2005, was not going to embark on a project of trying to excavate the supposed lost gems of Scottish theatre history. Not only was the director’s primary interest in new writing, but her time at Paines Plough had given her considerable experience of both new Scottish theatre writers and the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh (which, as we have seen above, defines itself as Scotland’s new writing theatre). Before arriving at the NTS, Featherstone had directed numerous new plays by Scottish writers, including The Cosmonaut’s Last Message to the Woman He Once Loved in the Former Soviet Union (1999) and Pyrenees (2005), both by David Greig, and Linda McLean’s Riddance (1999). Moreover, during her time as director at Paines Plough, the company produced the premiere of Anthony Neilson’s Stitching (2002), which was presented at the Traverse and directed by the playwright himself.