New instalment of The James Plays to take to the stage in Scotland in 2022

The team behind the epic Scottish theatre trilogy The James Plays is to reunite for a new instalment - focusing on two young African girls brought to Edinburgh Castle who soon found themselves at the heart of elite Scottish society.

Laurie Sansom and Rona Munro will be reuniting for a new instalment of The James Plays. Picture: Greg Macvean
Laurie Sansom and Rona Munro will be reuniting for a new instalment of The James Plays. Picture: Greg Macvean

Writer Rona Munro and director Laurie Sansom, who created the original award-winning shows on three generations of Stewart kings who ruled Scotland from 1406 -1488, will be focusing on new arrivals in the 16th century court of James IV.

The Festival Theatre, where the original trilogy was staged during the 2014 Edinburgh International Festival, will host the premiere of James IV in the autumn of 2022, before a tour of Scotland.

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Capital Theatres, who run the Festival Theatre, is creating James IV with the Glasgow-based theatre company Raw Material and the National Theatre of Scotland.

The show will focus on the remarkable young women known as the “Moorish Lassies” after becoming ladies-in-waiting to the king’s daughter Margaret. Two years ago research was published by Historic Environment Scotland recalling their “fashionable clothing, lavish gifts and exclusive courtly activities.”

The original trilogy was the most high-profile success for Sansom during his three tenure as artistic director of NTS. Following sell-out runs in Edinburgh and London, it toured the UK, as well as Australia and New Zealand.

An official announcement about James IV states: “Scotland, 1504, seen fresh through the eyes of new arrivals, Ellen and Anne, two Moorish women who were expected to take their place at a royal court....but not this one.

“Both women now have to fight to find and keep a place in the dazzling, dangerous world of the Scottish Court of James IV. It’s a world where war is never far away, words of love and promises of peace are not what they seem and where poets might turn out to be more dangerous than any assassin.”

The new production will focus on two African girls known as the 'Moorish lassies' who arrived at Edinburgh Castle in 1504. Image: Creative Commons

Munro said: “The James Plays were among the most exciting and the most satisfying theatre productions I’ve ever been part of.

“To be able to continue this work, with Laurie and with this team is, for me, to continue that excitement.

“My larger ambition is to extend the Stewart history of Scotland through James V, Mary Queen of Scots and to conclude with James VI who became James I of England.

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"My hope is that I can make this history more accessible, make those invisible in history visible again and provide a representation of the most potent and telling truth of history - it was made by people like us.”

Sansom said: “It’s a great privilege to be returning to the world created by Rona in the first trilogy.

"It was probably the most challenging and rewarding creative project I have worked on, and it’s now thrilling to be realising a long-held ambition to continue the story.”

NTS artistic director Jackie Wylie said: “We’re hugely excited to be supporting the next stage in Rona Munro’s ambitious and thrilling historical theatrical saga.

“We know audiences will be delighted to have the opportunity to return to the Scottish court and find out what happens next to Rona’s vividly imagined Scots Royals.

"It’s brilliant to have Laurie Sansom at the helm and to welcome him back to Scottish theatre.”



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