Edinburgh Zoo to host promenade theatre for the first time

It has already staged shows in the middle of Edinburgh Airport, the heart of a department store on Princes Street and a haunted underground street beneath the Royal Mile.
Dr Stirlingshire's Discovery will be staged promenade-style at Edinburgh Zoo in April.Dr Stirlingshire's Discovery will be staged promenade-style at Edinburgh Zoo in April.
Dr Stirlingshire's Discovery will be staged promenade-style at Edinburgh Zoo in April.

Now one of Scotland’s leading theatre companies has revealed plans to take audiences on a theatrical experience around the grounds of Edinburgh Zoo.

Grid Iron, the Edinburgh-based company which has been specialising in site-specific productions for two decades, will be creating a family-friendly show for the famous attraction for the Easter holidays in April.

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It is joining forces with the Lung Ha Theatre Company, which works with performers with learning disabilities, and the Royal Lyceum Theatre to create a new show which will be staged after the zoo has closed to the general public.

Up to 100 audience members per performance will be gathering for the production, which will focus on the “cryptozoologist” who is about to unveil a brand new creation discovered during her worldwide travels.

Dr Stirlingshire’s Discovery will be written by Edinburgh-based playwright Morna Pearson and directed by Joe Douglas, who created Blood Trams, a play inspired by real-life accounts of the impact of the controversial project.

The show, which will be staged in both indoor and outdoor spaces at the zoo, will be part of the official programme for the Edinburgh International Science Festival, which is staged over Easter.

Judith Doherty, co-artistic director of Grid Iron, said it had been in development for more than three years after the zoo was suggested as a potential venue for a show.

She added: “The play is really about a new discovery which is going to be announced at the zoo. The audience has effectively been invited to the unveiling of the new creature. But it quickly becomes apparent it is not going to be as simple as everyone sitting down and it being uncovered.

“It’s definitely one of the more challenging sites we’ve used as we are obviously having to take into account the welfare of the animals.”

Jo Paulson, events manager at Edinburgh Zoo, said: “We’re delighted to be hosting the world premiere of Dr Stirlingshire’s Discovery as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival. This is an entirely new venture for us and is a great way of engaging a whole new audience.

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“We’ve been collaborating with the science festival for many years and we’re particularly excited to host a theatrical production for the first time, as part of the festival.”

Maria Oller, Artistic Director Lung Ha Theatre Company: "It's fantastic that Dr Stirlingshire's Discovery gives us an opportunity to work with Grid Iron and to have the Edinburgh Zoo as an exciting new venue."