Nine new works ready for the Pitlochry Festival Theatre

Pitlochry Festival Theatre is to premiere A Night by the River Tay, nine new works from some of Scotland’s best known playwrights.

Starting on Wednesday 14 July and performing on just 10 dates over five weeks, Pitlochry Festival Theatre will premiere A Night by the River Tay, a series of live performances of their hugely successful online project, Shades of Tay – our Love letter to Scotland, written by some of Scotland’s best-known playwrights.

Performed in Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s spectacular, open-air amphitheatre from 14 July – September 3, A Night by the River Tay will feature new works from Peter Arnott, Hannah Lavery, Douglas Maxwell, Linda McLean, Martin McCormick, Chinonyerem Odimba, Michael John O’Neil, Ellie Stewart and Morna Young.

Inspired by the River Tay and its surrounding landscape – including Scotland’s multi-award-winning, world-renowned outdoor extravaganza, The Enchanted Forest, with whom these commissions were in partnership – the nine works were originally performed last year as audio dramas, podcasts, short films.

Each piece will be performed by The Wind in the Willow’s cast members Jane McCarry (Isa Drennan in Still Game); Colin McCredie (Taggart and River City); Alicia McKenzie (Quality Street, Northern Broadsides and Blonde Bombshells of 1943, Pitlochry Festival Theatre) and Ali Watt (Blithe Spirit and A Christmas Carol, Pitlochry Festival Theatre).

Elizabeth Newman, artistic director of Pitlochry Festival Theatre

Elizabeth Newman, artistic director of Pitlochry Festival Theatre said: ‘We are so excited to produce A Night by the River Tay, which is a selection of the new writing we commissioned at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic. The audience will get the chance to experience nine of these wonderful new works live.

‘We felt this group of writings would really benefit from being performed outdoors in our new amphitheatre. They are moving, beautiful and a genuine celebration of nature. I feel so passionately that we produce new work for audiences, and this group of writers are wonderful.

‘We look forward to our 70th Anniversary Ensemble performing them for audiences this summer, and all of this has been made possible by our partnership with the Scottish Episcopal Churches and the unrelenting work of Rev. Liz Baker. Her drive and energy to make things happen for the local area has meant lots of brilliant community artwork has also taken place during this difficult time.’

The nine works consist of:

Beautiful Boy by Douglas Maxwell. Performed by Ali Watt. Returning to his family home, an artist comes to clear his mother’s house ready for sale. He revisits his childhood and his first love and the life he left behind in London. And his mother’s pet cockatoo, Chandler.

We All Need Company Sometimes by Chinonyerem Odimba, Performed by Alicia McKenzie, Jane McCarry, Colin McCredie, and Ali Watt. A woman returns home and visits her first love: the River Tay.

22 Mays by Martin McCormick. Performed by Alicia McKenzie. After 22 Mays apart, the magic of the forest brings two people back together.

Part of That World by Michael O’Neill. Performed by Colin McCredie. Swimming in the river, Robert leaves his world behind and becomes part of something bigger.

The Festival Theatre in Pitlochry (Photo: Lachlan1/Shutterstock)

This is Not Scheihallion by Ellie Stewart. Performed by Jane McCarry and Colin McCredie. Laura and James are doing a virtual sponsored walk up Scheihallion in memory of their mum, who loved the landscape surrounding the River Tay.

A Passing Dance by Morna Young. Performed by Jane McCarry. Focusing on trees at the start of Autumn, A Passing Dance imagines the preparation for and spectacle of a leaf’s descent from a tree.

After Miss Georgina Ballantine by Linda McLean. Performed by Alicia McKenzie. Miss Georgina Ballantine is famous for catching the largest ever Salmon (64lbs) on the River Tay at Dunkeld. This piece imagines her challenge and her acceptance by the nature surrounding the river.

Meeting Tatha by Hannah Lavery. Performed by Alicia McKenzie. A woman who has lost control of her body imagines her wildness and freedom through the image of the River Tay.

The Old Soldier in the Forest by Peter Arnott. Performed by Colin McCredie. An ex-soldier seeks peace and solace on the River Tay. The history of the place and the nature surrounding help him move on.

Pitlochry Festival also recognised booking an event is different just now. So, they’re keeping things flexible so audiences can book for summer with the confidence that if plans change, their tickets and money can too. They will honour no-hassle refunds and exchanges for any reason (including the weather!) if it is requested at least 24 hours before the performance time. Each performance’s capacity is limited for a safe, socially distanced, outdoor event.

A Night by the River Tay will have just 10 performances in the open-air Amphitheatre at Pitlochry Festival Theatre, between 14 July and 3 September at 7pm.

For tickets and further information visit