National Theatre of Scotland and Imaginate

in partnership with Catherine Wheels Theatre Company, Starcatchers and Visible Fictions,

launch Theatre in Schools Scotland; an exciting new initiative for theatre in Scotland’s schools.


Supported by The Scottish Salmon Company and Arts & Business Scotland

Theatre in Schools Scotland is a new initiative, established to support and develop the provision of theatre in Scotland’s schools, with the ultimate aim of ensuring that every child in Scotland receives – at their nursery or school – a minimum of one performing arts production, per year, as a core part of their education.

Theatre in Schools Scotland is developed by Imaginate, the national organisation in Scotland, which promotes, develops and celebrates theatre and dance for children and young people and the National Theatre of Scotland, in partnership with leading performing arts companies/organisations for children and young people;  Catherine Wheels Theatre Company, Visible Fictions and Starcatchers.


The initiative has been created initially as a pilot project, which will expand over the next three years, exploring different models for touring theatre into schools.

During this first year, Theatre in Schools Scotland will tour two award-winning, internationally recognised Scottish productions, Martha presented by Catherine Wheels Theatre Company and Shopping for Shoes by Visible Fictions. The tour will visit 25 local authorities, with still potential for more, from 15 August to 14 October 2016. The shows will play in over 30 primary schools across the tour delivering four performances per school. Around 15,000 children in Scotland will see Theatre in Schools Scotland performances this year.

Scottish performing arts for children and young people is a success story.  Over the last twenty years, thanks to the influence of Imaginate and the creativity and success of companies like Visible Fictions, Starcatchers and Catherine Wheels; Scottish theatre for children and young people is generally accepted as some of the best in the world, with productions being celebrated both in Scotland and globally.

Theatre in Schools Scotland aims to ensure that all children in Scotland have the opportunity to access this world class children’s theatre in their own school.

The National Theatre of Scotland, currently celebrating its 10th birthday, has developed a unique model for touring high quality work and for creating innovative ways of touring the length and breadth of Scotland including hard to reach communities. Theatre in Schools Scotland will enable Scotland’s leading creators of children’s work to collaborate with the National Theatre of Scotland to share resources and deliver this vision across Scotland.

In addition to the performances, the initiative will also develop and encourage teacher engagement through ongoing education events in the pilot years. Theatre in Schools Scotland will maximise current public investment in the arts through wider dissemination of existing high quality work, delivering creative and aesthetic education for teachers and providing new tools to deliver the Curriculum for Excellence.  The benefit of young people’s engagement with the arts is well-documented. There is significant research to confirm that access to theatre and cultural experience enriches lives and impacts positively on health and well-being.

Theatre in Schools Scotland has developed an unique partnership model to bring these theatre productions into schools. The tour is cross funded by the Scottish Government funded National Theatre of Scotland, Creative Scotland funded theatre organisations, local authorities and individual schools.

This initial TiSS pilot is also supported financially by The Scottish Salmon Company and Arts & Business Scotland.

Craig Anderson, Managing Director at The Scottish Salmon Company says

 “We are delighted to support the Theatre in Schools Scotland initiative. We have operations in the Hebrides and on the West coast of Scotland and therefore have a solid understanding of the challenges of working in remote and rural locations. This project closely mirrors our own values with its community focus and ensures that the arts reach remote and rural areas of Scotland, which we are firmly behind.”

David Watt, Chief Executive, Arts & Business Scotland says

Theatre in Schools Scotland is a fantastically worthwhile initiative that Arts & Business Scotland is proud to support through the New Arts Sponsorship Grants programme. This is a great example of collaborative working which will deliver huge cultural benefits for a great number of children the length and breadth of Scotland

This year, pupils in over 30 primary schools across Scotland will enjoy performances of Martha, presented by Catherine Wheels Theatre Company and Shopping for Shoes by Visible Fictions.

Martha, written by Andy Manley, Gill Robertson and Annie Wood, has been performed nearly 300 times since 2001 in Canada, USA (New York), Scotland, England, The Netherlands, China, Singapore and Australia.  Martha is a warm and funny show about a stubborn and eccentric woman who lives on her own by the sea and doesn’t want any friends. But one day a mischievous goose turns up and Martha’s life is never the same again.

Shopping for Shoes, written by Tim Crouch, has toured North America, Canada, Ireland and Germany since 2007 and won the Victor Award at IPAY and the Brian Way Award. Shopping for Shoes is a witty, fast-paced performance about Siobhan, who is passionately politically aware and Shaun who is passionate about his vast collection of shoes.  A heart-warming tale of new found love, dog poo and…shoes.

The following local authorities and organisations are working with Theatre in Schools Scotland this year:

Aberdeen City Council, Argyll and Bute Council, North East Arts Touring Ltd, Clackmannanshire Council, Dumfries & Galloway Council, East Ayrshire Council, Brunton Theatre and East Lothian Council, East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure, Edinburgh City Council and Festival and King’s Theatres Edinburgh, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar/Western Isles Council, Falkirk Council, Fife Council, Glasgow Life and Glasgow City Council, High Life Highland, North Lanarkshire Council, Orkney Council, Perth Council and Horsecross Arts, Renfrew Leisure and Paisley Arts Centre, Borders LIVE and  Touring part of Live Borders, Dundee Rep Theatre, East Dunbartonshire Leisure and Culture Trust, Shetland Council, South Ayrshire Council; Stirling Council, Howden Park Centre and West Lothian Council.

Confirmed schools include: Gardenrose Primary School, Maybole; Baird Memorial Primary School, Cumbernauld; Fallin Primary School, by Stirling; Langless Primary, Falkirk; Dales Park Primary School, Peterhead; Sound Primary School, Shetland; Shawbost Primary, Isle of Lewis; Sgoil nan Loch, Isle of Lewis; St Patrick’s Primary School; Dumbarton; Redwell Primary School, Alloa; Fenwick Primary School, Kilmarnock; Eyemouth Primary School, Eyemouth and Preston Street Primary, Edinburgh.

Paul Fitzpatrick, Executive Director, Imaginate says

It’s our aspiration that ultimately every child in Scotland will see world-class theatre in their school every year.  I’ve been really inspired by how the local authorities, the National Theatre of Scotland, the partner companies; Visible Fictions, Catherine Wheels and Starcatchers, our sponsor The Scottish Salmon Company and Arts & Business Scotland have got behind the project which is about giving children in Scotland the very best childhood they can have.”

Laurie Sansom, Artistic Director, National Theatre of Scotland says

I believe it is essential that the Scottish Theatre community takes world-class work that’s being made in this country, regularly, to children of every age. I don’t think we can underestimate the increase in well-being and academic attainment it provides, and by touring to schools, we are also growing our audiences for the future.  This cannot be achieved by the Scottish Theatre community in isolation. Theatre in Schools Scotland has found passionate partners across the arts, business, education and the Scottish government, to make this ambitious idea a reality for Scottish school children this year. I truly hope that it is model that we can sustain from year to year going forward


Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs says


“Scotland is recognised internationally for its outstanding record in promoting children and young people’s theatre. I welcome the Theatre in Schools Scotland initiative which will see up to four performances per school in 25 local authorities this year and I’m confident the acts will be enjoyed by pupils and teachers.

 “The Scottish Government shares the widespread understanding that performing and visual arts help young people’s mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing.  These experiences have a clear role to play in providing young people with opportunities to be creative and imaginative as part of a rich education within Curriculum for Excellence.”

 Maureen Allan, Headteacher, Preston Street Primary says


 “We value the opportunities that high quality productions in school provide; enabling our children to develop their imagination, creativity and problem solving in a fun way. Developing these important areas through drama impinges on all areas of the curriculum – and beyond.”


Emyr Bell, Executive Director, North East Arts Touring says


“This is not just a great opportunity to share high quality theatre with young audiences, it’s an opportunity to help our young people become creative and critical thinkers. Theatre at all levels and genres should help us to understand the world we live in and help us to explore the human condition; if we truly believe in a well-rounded education system then we must invest in the arts as a tool that embraces curriculum learning and personal development. Therefore North East Arts Touring are proud to be a part of this exciting and vital partnership.”

Theatre in schools

National Theatre of Scotland artistic director Laurie Sansom (centre, back row) with Craig Anderson, managing director of scheme sponsor Scottish Salmon Company (left), Paul Fitzpatrick, director of Imaginate children’s theatre festival, and Chermaine Zhao (aged 11), Angus Sim (aged six), Esme Farmer (aged five) and Fergus Jajdelski (aged 11). Photo: Colin Hattersley

Back to all news