Article Source: National Theatre of Scotland
Last Updated: 18 November 2023 13:50
Damian Barr is adapting his memoir for the stage, teaming up with Scottish playwright James Ley and directed by Suba Das.
This new production from National Theatre of Scotland premieres at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow in May 2024 before touring to Inverness, Perth, Cumbernauld, Dundee and Edinburgh.
“Don’t you worry. I’ll always love you. Love doesn’t run out. It’s not like the gas meter. I’ll find extra love.”
It’s October 12, 1984 – the Brighton bombing. Maggie Thatcher emerges from the rubble, dusty but defiant and somehow in the living room of 8-year-old Damian Barr in Newarthill, North Lanarkshire.
No time for turning, so buckle up for a surreal yet so-real rollercoaster ride through Damian’s painful past rediscovering who he really is. From the furnaces of the Ravenscraig Steelworks to the sanctuary of Carfin Grotto, there’s pain and joy, coming of age and coming out. And Saint Dolly Parton.
It’s about finding your voice and telling your story. Before you can move on, you have to look back...
Published in 2013, Maggie & Me was named Sunday Times Memoir of the Year, awarded Paddy Power Political Satire Award and Barr was named Stonewall Writer of the Year.
The National Theatre of Scotland will be collaborating with film and video students from New College Lanarkshire to create a short documentary about the making of the production.
Damian Barr, co-writer and author of Maggie & Me, said: “National Theatre of Scotland has given me some of my most memorable nights in the theatre so it’s a great honour to be bringing Maggie & Me to life on stage with them. Maggie & Me is not just my story - it’s about the community that survived Thatcher, so I’m delighted we are working with New College Lanarkshire - based on the site of the Craig where my dad worked.
I’m a huge fan of James Ley’s plays and especially what they say about identity - writing with him has been a joy and I’ve learned so much about making the shift from page to stage. Director Suba Das is one of the most exciting theatre makers in the UK so I am thrilled he’s lending us his unique and uniquely engaging vision. I’m dedicating this play to my family, to my family of choice and to everyone who has ever struggled to find their place in the world.”
James Ley, co-writer, said: "I’m absolutely thrilled to be part of the team reimagining Damian’s joyous, funny, heartbreaking memoir for the stage. The chance to get to work with Damian, Suba and National Theatre of Scotland is a dream come true. The play is so much more than a memoir, it’s a vital check-in with the nation about what’s important to us, who we are and how we make sense of everything that’s thrown at us in life. Going on this journey with Damian has been as moving, hilarious and uplifting as I hope and believe the play will be when it gets in front of audiences next Spring. I can’t wait!"
Suba Das, director, said: “I’m honoured that National Theatre Scotland have stretched the border a pinch to invite a Geordie director - proudly queer and working-class - up to Glasgow to help create the world premiere of Maggie & Me. Damian’s account of survival and the quest for community, joy and voice resonates for any of us who know what it is to negotiate boundaries of sexuality and class. In a world that remains hostile to difference, I’m so moved to have Damian and James’s trust to now lead the creation of a production that holds hope and healing at its heart - for me, for us, and for every audience member we’ll meet on the great big adventure ahead.”
Maggie & Me was high acclaimed upon publication and established itself as a classic Scottish memoir. This is the first time it has been adapted for the stage.
‘Funny, tender, and heartbreaking.’ The Independent
‘Certain memoirs catch a moment and seem to define it, bottle it... Hugely entertaining.’ The Sunday Times
‘A memoir which is both personally moving and a valuable historical document.’ Literary Review
Born in Bellshill and now living in Brighton, Damian Barr is an award-winning writer and broadcaster. His debut novel, You Will Be Safe Here, was Book of the Year in the Observer, Guardian and Mail. He has written several plays for radio, with Maggie & Me marking his first stage play. In 2019, Damian brought books back to television with the BBC’s Big Scottish Book Club, now in its fifth series.
James Ley is an award-winning writer living in Glasgow.
‘One of Scotland’s most exciting, early-career writers.’ Exeunt
He wrote and directed Ode to Joy (How Gordon got to go to the nasty pig party), winner of a Scotsman Fringe First in 2022 and nominated for a Critics Award for Theatre Scotland Award 2023 for Best New Play which will tour next year. His other plays include Wilf (Traverse Theatre) and Love Song to Lavender Menace (Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh, Summerhall, SoHo Playhouse, New York). James is currently under commission with the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh, and is an alumnus of the BBC Writersroom Scottish Voices 2022/2023 and Edinburgh Film Festival Talent Lab.
Suba Das is an award-winning theatre maker from the North East of England. Previously Creative Director at the Liverpool Everyman; and Artistic Director/CEO of the internationally acclaimed new writing company HighTide; Suba trained at Cambridge and on the prestigious Birkbeck MFA in Theatre Directing. He is a 2023 graduate of the National Film and Television School’s Director’s Series.
His directing credits include major revivals of Top Girls (Liverpool Everyman), East Is East (Northern Stage and Nottingham Playhouse) and The Importance of Being Earnest (Bolton Octagon); in addition to the world premieres of Ravi Shankar’s Sukanya (with The Royal Opera and London Philharmonic Orchestra), Pink Sari Revolution by Purva Naresh, and Wipers by Ishy Din (all as Associate Director at Leicester Curve). This is his first time working with the National Theatre of Scotland.
Touring to Tron Theatre, Glasgow (previews Wed 8 May) Thurs 9 May – Sat 11 May; One Touch, Eden Court Tues 14 May – Wed 15 May; Perth Theatre Fri 17 May – Sat 18 May; Cumbernauld Theatre Thurs 23 May – Sat 25 May; Dundee Rep Theatre Thurs 30 May – Sat 1 June; Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Tues 11 June – Sat 15 June
The National Theatre of Scotland’s popular Theatre for a Fiver scheme will be available for 14 to 16 year-olds and those on Universal Credit.
Access – further information about accessible performances to be announced.
Cast and full creative team to be announced.
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