Pride Plays

Edinburgh’s Traverse has long-championed new drama—indeed, the venue’s self-description is the simple goal of being “Scotland’s new writing theatre”. As a result, Traverse Theatre aims to give unheard writers access to its stages through either its own initiatives – such as flagship education project Class Act which, in 30 years, has developed more than 900 scripts – or cooperating with other theatre companies, including Glasgow’s world-famous A Play, A Pie, and a Pint.

If nothing else, these “Pride Plays” are excellent calling cards for everyone involved.

The specific focus of Pride Plays, according to Edinburgh-based co-producers Shift, was – is – “to give the stage to voices of a community who still feels underrepresented in Scottish theatre”. (The specific community they have in mind would appear to be LGBTQI+ identifying playwrights, clearly determined to legitimise the lived experiences of their peers.) These were, in one sense, nothing more than rehearsed readings, with scripts clearly held in the actors’ hands, performed on a stage empty except for a few chairs. Yet, thanks to skilled actors and focused direction, the results could still genuinely emotionally affect an audience.

Natalie McGrath’s We’ll Meet in Moscow was essentially a monologue about a Muscovite lesbian who finds true love while fleeing across Siberia. Although I found McGrath’s script on occasions too needlessly verbose, there were numerous subtle decisions by performer Rebecca Elise and director Connel Burnett which helped “sell” the central character’s loneliness, joy and determination within the wider context of LGBT+ oppression in Russia. In contrast, Katie Gartlan-Close’s Cocoon focused on two women, Randy and Sophie, whose marriage is fractured by the latter’s desperation for motherhood, and an unexpected opportunity during a supposed holiday train journey between Vancouver and Seattle.

Gartlan-Close isn’t afraid to use comedy as a means of punctuating the drama, something she has in common with Gabriella Sloss, whose 787 Blinks expertly explores the consequences of rape, women’s friendships, and positive relationships. In one sense it’s dramatically the strongest of these Pride Plays—somewhat ironic given that, bar one hint of bisexuality, the characters are presented as fundamentally heterosexual and cis-gendered. Dramatically, though, it's strong enough to slightly overshadow J D Stewart’s Elastic, which inventively (if not always clearly) explores the changing dynamics within a “ménage à trois” from the present day backwards in time.

If nothing else, these Pride Plays are excellent calling cards for everyone involved: not least directors Burnett, Laila Noble, Sarah Masson and Jo Rush. They successfully create emotive theatre with little more than some chairs and a cast of young, talented actors who must be congratulated, not least for successfully embodying a range of clearly delineated, yet nuanced characters—ensuring that these new playwrights are not just worth listening to, they need to be heard.

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

Royal Lyceum Theatre

Mrs Puntila And Her Man Matti

★★
Traverse Theatre

W*nk Buddies

★★★
Traverse Theatre

Pride Plays

★★★★
Multiple Venues

Oor Wullie

★★★★
Oran Mor / Traverse Theatre

Fly Me To The Moon

★★★★
Platform / Traverse Theatre

The Panopticon

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Scotland's first ever LGBTQI+ playwright festival returns to Scotland's New Writing Theatre as part of LGBT History Month, continuing to give the stage to voices of a community who still feels underrepresented in Scottish theatre. Over two evenings: "We'll Meet in Moscow" by Natalie McGrath; "Cocoon" by Katie Gartlan-Close; "787 Blinks" by Gabriella Sloss; and "Elastic" by J D Stewart.

Most Popular See More

Back to the Future - The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Hairspray

From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Wonderment Magic & Illusion

From £15.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Constellations

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Everybody's Talking About Jamie

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Come From Away

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets