Pitlochry Festival Theatre makes Theatre of the Year shortlist

Pitlochry Festival Theatre has been shortlisted for Theatre of the Year at the prestigious The Stage Awards 2022.

The Stage Awards, in association with Tysers Insurance Brokers, celebrate the best achievements in UK theatre in the past 12 months. The awards recognise performing arts organisations and teams who have been making fantastic work and those helping to shape and rebuild the sector for the better.

Pitlochry Festival Theatre, the only Scottish theatre in the category, is nominated alongside London’s Donmar Warehouse and Battersea Arts Centre; Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury; Lyric Theatre, Belfast; and Royal and Derngate, Northampton.

Over the last 12 months the Perthshire venue has worked tirelessly to serve its audiences, artists and participants through its programming and community projects.

Pitlochry Festival Theatre has had a vision to be ‘inside, outside and online,’ and that included a digital project, #LightHopeJoy, which delivered different creative works for 437 consecutive days. While the venue was dark, it conceived a new digital audio platform Sound Stage in November 2020, commissioning and developing 10 new dramas, heard by 12,000 people.

For its 70th-anniversary summer season this year, it conceived an entirely outdoor, socially distanced programme that employed 70 freelancers and raised money from donors to reimagine the entire 11-acre site. This included constructing an amphitheatre, bandstand, and riverboat to put on work, and redeveloping the garden for promenade performances.

The season comprised 17 different productions and 171 performances, with 15,00 audience members attending live work. As well as the productions, it continued its impressive community work, consistently engaging with residents.

This included maintaining projects started in early lockdown such as Telephone Club, which helped isolated people from the area speak to somebody, an online play-reading club, an audio theatre project called Tay’s Gaelic Memoir, in which locals celebrated their Perthshire Gaelic heritage, creative work with children and its Archive of Memories for people living with dementia and their carers.

Elizabeth Newman, artistic director of Pitlochry Festival Theatre

While the doors to the theatre remained closed, Pitlochry pushed on with its capital project – with £10 million raised independently – to improve its buildings and create its first studio. During the pandemic it has continued to be responsive, innovative, creative and show its community spirit.

Artistic director Elizabeth Newman said: ‘We are absolutely thrilled to be nominated for The Stage’s Theatre of the Year Award. The entire Pitlochry Festival Theatre team have worked so hard over the last twelve months to make incredible things happen for our communities in these challenging times. We are so grateful to all the artists who have worked tirelessly to help us make amazing things happen. Pitlochry Festival Theatre continues to connect with audiences, and we are powered by the dialogue we have with them. We cannot wait to continue to connect with people inside, outside, and online. We are very proud to be a Scottish theatre and share Pitlochry with the World and the World with Pitlochry.’

Executive director Kris Bryce added: ‘This year we marked 70 years since an extraordinary person put up a tent in their garden and created a theatre. Right through the pandemic, whilst it was not safe to be Inside together, and it wasn’t yet permitted to be Outside together, we gathered Scotland and the world Online. We committed to being the first Scottish theatre to welcome audiences back to live performance, and thousands of people have joined us through the year as we did just that.

‘None of this would have been possible without the continued confidence shown toward us by Creative Scotland and Perth & Kinross Council. Their support, as well as The Scottish Government’s focus on culture and £10m investment in our capital redevelopment, has been sustaining. We’re looking forward to continuing to gather, to create work, and to make Theatre for All from the heart of Scotland.’

The Stage Awards 2022 will be announced on January 31 at a ceremony at Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London.

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