This is part of an on-going series of regional Shakespeare coverage. This is Laura here this week with the latest in Shakespeare news from Scotland.
Set in the beautiful and extensive grounds of Traquair House in Innerleithen, a former hunting lodge for Scottish Kings and Queens, the Shakespeare at Traquair drama group staged their promenade performance of Hamlet this month, directed by Steve Russell. The drama group, cast and crew, is composed entirely of volunteers and is open to everyone, regardless of age, background or level of experience. With their production of Hamlet, the group celebrates their 20th annual production. The group began in 1995, the idea of Richard Nisbet, Judy Steele and Catherine Maxwell Stuart, with what they thought was a one off production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in order to raise funds for charity. It was so successful, however, that it was soon decided to instate Shakespeare at Traquair as a yearly occasion. Their productions usually attract audiences from all over Scotland – Edinburgh, Glasgow, Peebles, Carlisle, Dumfries and the Borders.
Due to the nature of the space in which they perform, the audience and the actors interact very closely with one another, making each production a unique experience. During the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August, the group will also be performing A Comedy of Errors and Macbeth in an indoor theatre venue.
The house of Traquair itself has a very interesting history. It has been in existence since at least 1107 when Alexander I of Scotland signed a royal charter there, making it one of the oldest residences in Scotland. At this time it was situated in the middle of Ettrick Forest and provided a spectacular venue for the royal hunt. It was also used as a place where royalty could issue laws and hold courts. Over 800 years later, it first opened to visitors in 1953.
It is becoming increasingly common for Shakespeare plays to be staged in the grounds of Scotland’s courtly homes and castles. Some upcoming productions include The Taming of the Shrew which will take place on the 26th of June in the grounds of Drum Castle, near Aberdeen. It will also be performed on the 4th of July at The Hill House, a house built in 1902 by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, situated in Helensburgh and overlooking the banks of the River Clyde. Meanwhile, Much Ado About Nothing will be performed in the gardens of Greenbank House in Clarkston, Glasgow on the 16th of July.
The ever-popular outdoor summer plays, As You Like It and A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be performed in the partly restored Renaissance palace Falkland Palace on Saturday 1st of August and in Culzean Castle on Wednesday the 5th of August, respectively. Thereafter, As You Like It will go on tour, visiting Newhailes in Musselburgh near Edinburgh on Sunday the 2nd of August, Pitmedden Garden on Wednesday 5th of August, Kellie Castle and Garden on Thursday 6th of August and the House of Dun & Montrose Basin Nature Reserve on Friday the 7th of August.
Thus Shakespeare fans in Scotland will have no shortage of choice this summer. I haven’t even mentioned yet the Bard in the Botanics’ (see my previous post) ‘Unlikely Wonders’ season, which will feature performances of Love’s Labour’s Lost, Richard II, The Merchant of Venice and A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Glasgow’s Botanical Gardens. I hope to make it to at least some of these performances mentioned above, meaning they will no doubt appear as a future Shakespeare in Scotland post, so watch this space!
For more information on the Shakespeare at Traquair drama group, see: http://www.shakespeare-at-traquair.co.uk/ and http://www.visittweedvalley.co.uk/blog/playing-gallery.
For details of the Bard in the Botanics upcoming schedule, see: http://bardinthebotanics.co.uk/.
For the other events listed, see: http://www.nts.org.uk/Events/Home/.