The first-ever National Theatre of Scotland (NToS) has announced its launch development strategy which, from spring 2006, will see it staging as many as 14 new productions per year, up to four of which will be toured around the rest of the UK and overseas as reflecting the best of Scottish theatre (See News, 5 Aug 2005).

While the, currently seven-strong, NToS administration will be based in Glasgow, with permanent offices as part of a new community complex due to be built next year in the once deprived area of Easterhouse, its productions will not be limited to a single building but rather will be staged across the country.

Of the main NToS productions, running throughout the year, there will be up to two large-scale and three medium-scale shows, which may be co-produced with other companies, as well as up to four small-scale shows. In addition, an NToS ensemble company will tour Scotland each summer, from April to September, with three shows – one for children, one for teenagers, one for adults – and a dedicated youth company will present two shows.

In terms of programming choices, there will be a strong Scottish focus, with three pieces each year from the country’s “recent past”. After their schedules in Scotland, these will be taken out to the rest of the UK and toured internationally. An NToS Workshop will be created to develop new homegrown talent.

Scotland’s National Theatre is still very new, having been set up in 2004, born out of the £7 million funding granted by the young Scottish Executive. The most forward-looking aspect of the project was that the NToS required no expensive new building of its own. Artistic director Vicky Featherstone (pictured), formerly of Paines Plough touring company, commented at the time of her appointment last summer: “The National Theatre can be lots of different things to different people, for example an education project in one area and a big show in another. And it is really important that it should be geographically inclusive of the whole of Scotland.”

At a meeting of the Federation of Scottish Theatre this month, Featherstone explained how the newly announced plans for the NToS have come about: “We have been consulting with theatre professionals and groups throughout the country and have had a hugely productive period of developing ideas and strategy. Each piece of work the National Theatre stages will aim to attract the widest possible audience, whether throughout Scotland or internationally, and touring will be the mainstay of our programme.

She continued: “We want to give people from all over the country the opportunity to see different kinds of theatre, whether that is youth theatre, children’s theatre, site-specific, community or participatory works. We will also celebrate the best Scottish drama and stage new productions of Scottish classics. Collaborations between Scottish and international artists to develop new works will also be crucial.”

In addition to the development plan, which will be laid out in more detail in October, the final appointments to the NToS’ senior management team have been made. Adrian Searle is the theatre’s communications director, and Derek Kennedy has been appointed as finance and administration manager.

Eddie Jackson, Federation of Scottish Theatre chairman, said: “These are very exciting times for the theatre community in Scotland and it is great to be involved in the development of the National Theatre as it takes shape... This is an ambitious strategy for the theatre, and one which will benefit people all over the country.”

- by Caroline Ansdell & Terri Paddock