The James Plays

Published: Thu 6 Aug 2015 09:47 AM
The James Plays
A National Theatre of Scotland, National Theatre of Great Britain and Edinburgh International Festival co-production
By Rona Munro
Directed by Laurie Samson
Saturday 5 March – Sunday 13 March 2016
ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre
Monumental, rich and utterly riveting, The James Plays make their New Zealand debut at Auckland Arts Festival 2016.
A hit at last year’s Edinburgh International Festival, The James Plays are unlike anything Auckland has seen before.
Spanning almost 100 years and the turbulent reigns of James I, II and III of Scotland, The James Plays, by Rona Munro, take a little known period of history and turn it into a thrilling and exhilarating game of thrones.
Being a part of the monarchy in fifteenth century Scotland was a brutal and tumultuous business, a fight for survival amidst a murderous mix of sibling rivalries, violent power plays, devastating betrayals and catastrophic threats to the throne.
Vividly imagined on an epic scale, The James Plays trilogy brings to life these chaotic times. Each play stands alone as a unique vision of a country tussling with its past and future; viewed together they create a complex and compelling narrative on Scottish culture and nationhood.
By award-winning playwright Rona Munro, and directed by the National Theatre of Scotland’s artistic director Laurie Sansom, The James Playsare an unprecedented theatrical undertaking from three powerhouses of UK theatre – National Theatre of Scotland, National Theatre of Great Britain and Edinburgh International Festival.
When they premiered in autumn 2014, the critical and public impact was extraordinary. Witty, sexy and intense, they were described by The Telegraph as ‘better than Shakespeare’ and sold out their runs at the Edinburgh Festival and the National Theatre in London, thrilling audiences and causing a storm of attention.
Auckland Arts Festival artistic director Carla van Zon says the plays are an incredible dramatic achievement with gripping writing, fantastic staging and live music.
“They’re like a book you can’t put down, or a TV series you can’t miss ,” says Ms van Zon.
“You want to see the next episode, to watch the machinations of power, find out who marries, who survives, and which family will finally be ascendant.”
She says it’s a very modern trilogy, about the lives of vibrant human beings who have contemporary foibles and fears.
“These are big stories,” she says, “and real edge of your seat stuff.”
Rona Munro says she wrote the James plays because she adores medieval history and felt it was relevant to Scotland today.
"I want people to experience them as I imagine them, not as something remote happening to people in odd costumes talking in inaccessible 'history speak' but as visceral, epic stories of people who thought and felt as we do.
“These loves, deaths, friendships and betrayals inform our present. My greatest ambition is that audiences will come out with... these stories lodged in their heads."
‘Furiously exciting. A high-stakes political thriller that never lets up’ -Time Out
‘Better than Shakespeare...Rona Munro's thrilling trilogy could be the finest history plays ever penned. A feast of blistering emotion and theatrical might’ – The Telegraph
‘The most-elating things you'll see all year. Thrillingly authoritative’ -The Independent

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