Traverse-One Year On

‘So much of theatre, for me, is about the experience for the audience, and I’m very keen we offer as many different experiences as possible.’  So says Dominic Hill, the artistic director of the Traverse Theatre, one of Scotland’s flagship theatre companies.

In describing how he sees the Traverse, Hill says that it is, ‘possibly the only presenter and producer of new work in Scotland.  It’s a place you’d want to go to if you want to see the latest that’s going on in Scottish performing arts.  So, it’s about the new.  New work.’

Hill has now been in the post for a little more than a year, coming in from Dundee Rep.  ‘Now, I’m developing new plays and working with writers and presenting new companies (so there’s more going out and learning about those companies).  Before, it was about working with old text and working with a particular group of people to present them.  It’s a much wider, more open remit now.’

In speaking about the work of the past year, Hill is obviously very pleased.  ‘I think lots of really exciting things have happened over the last year.  One of the things that I was really keen to do when I first started was to increase the amount of activity in the building.  So we’ve done that massively.  We have lots of different things, whether it’s lunchtime drama or theatre in the bar, introducing new kinds of music and scratch performances.  We’ve presented a season of debut plays with the NTS, as well as other plays.  Those have all been very exciting things.’

And the work continues.  Hill is in rehearsal for a new play: The Dark Things.  Written by Ursula Rani Sarma, it follows the lives of a group of survivors of a serious road accident.  ‘It’s about guilt and loss and survival.  And it’s an extraordinary and wonderful play.  It’s a very kind of haunting, poetic piece full of images.  It’s wonderfully funny.  It has a strange, quirky David Lynch-esque quality to it, which I really enjoy.’

Future work at the Traverse includes an eclectic mixture of companies and styles.  Vox Motus returns with Bright Black before heading out on a long Scottish tour.  A partnership with the Tramway brings An Argument about Sex, a production that will use both theatre spaces.  And Visible Fictions will bring their Christmas show of Zorro, a production Hill calls ‘a mad enough idea for me to go with’.

‘What really excites me,’ says Hill, ‘is that, for Scotland, the Traverse is a unique place.  We are the only theatre that develops and commissions work and puts it on.  But something that excites me, particularly this autumn, is that we’re producing such a range of work.  We’re doing new music.  We’re doing contemporary dance.  We’re doing a new opera.  And I think, for me, that’s what makes the place so exciting: the huge variety of work that’s going on year round.’

Originally written for The Skinny.

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