Theatre Venue of the Month: The Traverse

A veritable institution of Scottish Theatre, which remains contemporary, fresh and experimental

Feature by Sally Smith | 01 Nov 2010

Straddling dual roles is a task taken in the stride of the Traverse Theatre. An accessible centre for new writing in Scotland, the theatre has been a long stander on the Scottish Theatre scene, building on each success in its various locations within the capital throughout its history spanning almost five decades.

Since 2008 the theatre's direction has been led by Artistic Director Dominic Hill; who, whilst fully embracing the principle role of 'Scotland's New Writing Theatre', isn't afraid to recognise the potential of adapting work by contemporary playwrights and opening its doors to some of the country's best modern works from varied and innovative touring companies. This convergence of sorts works to forge the dual space theatre's reputation for producing quality contemporary performance.

This November The Trav (as it is affectionately known) teams up with acclaimed site specific company Grid Iron for an Autumnal co-production of Spring Awakening (2-13 Nov): the combination will no doubt ignite Frank Wedekind's controversial critique of the claustrophobia of sexually oppressive German culture. This production is adapted to turn of the century Scotland struggling under the control of Calvinist rule whilst looking to the emerging freedoms of continental Europe. Using a giant classroom as a metaphor for the learning curve of adolescence, rebelling against the restrictions of the adult world that are seen to be confining blossoming sexual intrigue.

Ascendancy undergoes further inspection, and the programme takes on another genre, as Music Theatre Wales tours to Scotland with Philip Glass's chamber opera In The Penal Colony (16 Nov). Based on a dark short story examining the justice system, the work contemplates man’s inhumanity and intolerance and the cruelty of authority, with Glass's haunting music a strong platform for this intense psychological work.

Psycho-analytical opera may sound a little ponderous for your taste, however, the programme really is accommodating: mid-November sees the launch of the theatre's second annual Autumn Festival, including dance, music and puppetry for all ages; and they mean all ages. Baby O (16 & 17 Nov) is an interactive aural adventure from Scottish Opera. Created for babies, the multisensory music experience within an interactive secret garden proves it is never too early to enjoy the arts; and for those already on the road, Saturday Stories (27 Nov) with Andy Cannon promises to whisk the over 5s away in many an adventurous tale of a weekend morning.

Even if the theatre is not your natural stomping ground, in which case you can test the water in the comfort of the funky Trav Bar for Noisy Words (18 Nov), a one-off event combining composers and writers, for an impromptu medley of creativity. Also, if you are a paid-up member of the creative crowd then they are inviting writers to submit proposals for the event.

For those more intrigued by the physical than the vocal, Fran Darkin’s London based company are performing Disgo (18 & 19 Nov). This interactive work merges dancers and audience with the company’s signature theatrical choreography. Bathed in an immersive light and sound the piece promises to be intimate not intimidating. Alternatively, Scottish Dance Theatre’s powerful bill of five varied dance pieces builds on their success at last year's Fringe.

And lastly, if you've ever pondered theatre from the critic's side of the stagelights you may find some insight in An Evening with Gareth K Vile (20 Nov). Yes, that would be this very magazine's Performance Editor, and yes, this would be a shameless plug. Are critics really just failed performers carting around the proverbial chip on their shoulder? All will be revealed in this chat show merging of critical theory and entertainment.