2016 is the year of trilogy plays. Forget the first installment of the new Star Wars trilogy (although it was bloody good, am I right?!?); trilogy plays are where it’s at this year. More specifically, Scottish trilogy plays based on heart-rending material.
We have seen an explosion in long-form TV and radio shows in recent years, allowing for slow builds and detailed character development. This is a trickier thing to replicate on stage. When it’s a live performance, you can’t choose your style of consumption to the same extent, whether that be binge or pleasure delay. Theatre companies may offer different viewing options to audiences; but it’s no Netflix style – here are all 13 episodes of your favourite TV show all at once; go on… call in sick to work… I dare you.
If the interest in the epic two-parter play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, is anything to go by, then maybe the time is ripe for long-form plays. Although, the Harry Potter phenomenon, and JK Rowling’s editing, is a law unto itself, so this really isn’t anything to go by. Moot point – my bad.
But the emergence of three major trilogies set to be performed in the first half of 2016 got me thinking – what is the longest play ever performed? And indeed what is the shortest? More on that in Part 2 of my blog, which I will be publishing tomorrow. Oh and Part 3 will come out the day after tomorrow – yes, this is a trilogy blog, emulating the content and all that.
Firstly, here are details on the aforementioned trilogy plays, their viewing lengths and the viewing options available to audiences.
The James Plays – National Theatre of Scotland, Edinburgh International Festival and National Theatre of Great Britain
This vividly-imagined trilogy brings to life three generations of Stewart Kings (James I, II and III of Scotland) who ruled Scotland in the tumultuous fifteenth century. Each 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.
Viewing options: over three evenings or in the one day at weekends.
Total running time: 7hrs 40mins approx.
This Restless House, Citizens Theatre and the National Theatre of Scotland
A contemporary take on an epic Greek tragedy, Aeschylus’ The Oresteia. The bloody saga of a family torn apart by a succession of murders and betrayals was first performed in 485 BC. The production brings the universal themes of justice, revenge, loyalty, and the evolving relationships between teenagers and their parents to the fore.
Viewing options: over two evenings, or in one day on Trilogy Saturdays.
Total running time: 5 hrs 20 mins approx.
The 306: Dawn, National Theatre of Scotland, 1418 NOW and Perth Theatre, in association with Red Note Ensemble
Based on real events, it charts the heartbreaking journey of three British soldiers who were executed for cowardice, desertion and mutiny during World War I. The piece of music theatre gives back a voice, story and name to these three unknown soldiers – who appear on no war memorial. The 306: Dawn will be performed in a transformed barn in the Perthshire countryside with an accompanying live score.
Viewing options: one viewing; no interval. The nine day run includes a one-off performance at 2.15am on May 28th.
Total running time: 90 mins approx.
Remember to check out tomorrow’s Trilogy Blog – Part 2 to find out the longest and shortest plays ever performed. Guesses in the comments section below welcome.