National Theatre of Scotland key pair leave posts

TWO of the key figures at the National Theatre of Scotland are to leave their posts to take over the running of Ireland’s national theatre.

Neil Murray and Graham McLaren will be joint directors of Abbey Theatre in Ireland. Picture:

Neil Murray, executive producer of NTS since it was formed a decade ago, and Graham McLaren, who has been an associate director of the company for the last five years, will be joint directors of Abbey Theatre.

The pair will start work in July of next year after the Dublin-based theatre company said it was open to joint applications to find a replacement for current director Fiach Mac Conghail.

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Murray, a former director of the Tron Theatre in Glasgow, has also worked with the 7:84 Theatre Company and the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow. McLaren’s track record includes forming the company Theatre Babel and serving as artistic director of Perth Rep Theatre.

In a statement, the pair said: “We are thrilled and honoured to be offered the opportunity to run the Abbey Theatre, Ireland’s national theatre and one of the world’s great companies.

“We will join the Abbey Theatre from The National Theatre of Scotland, which has proved to be a successful, revolutionary venture, and, of course, the Abbey Theatre has its own unique history and place in world theatre.

“We believe in the concept of a national theatre that reaches all of the country. This applies to touring work, but also addresses the issue of where shows and projects are rooted and made, regardless of geographical remoteness or perceived social barriers.

“We also believe in an international perspective that will take the Abbey Theatre’s best work out of the country on a regular basis and bring exciting international artists to Ireland.

Laurie Sansom, director of the NTS, said: “Neil Murray and Graham McLaren have each been central to the Scottish and UK theatre landscape for over 20 years.

“In their roles, they have brought everything from Medea to Black Watch onto stages at home and overseas.

“In his post as executive producer, Neil has been with the Company since its inception and has been instrumental in steering us towards the national and international renown we’ve achieved.

“As associate director, Graham has been integral to the shaping of our creative programme and has directed some of our biggest successes, among them Yer Granny and In Time O’ Strife.

“That Graham and Neil have been snapped up by one of the world’s leading theatres is testament to their zeal and expertise in nurturing theatre-makers and serving audiences.

“It is an enormous feather in the cap of Scottish theatre and a testament to the founding principles and successes of the National Theatre of Scotland that they will now run the national theatre of one of our nearest neighbours.

“I’d like to thank them personally for the support they’ve given me since I took up the helm of the company. The National Theatre of Scotland has thrived on their energy, passion and irreverence and their ability to take the seed of an idea and turn it into an extraordinary theatrical experience. We will all miss them hugely and we wish them every possible success.”