The National Theatre of Scotland is to stage an investigation into "the crisis in newspaper journalism", using real testimony, which will be performed on the top floor of a media office block in Glasgow. Around 60 hours of interviews are being gathered and will be distilled for a production called Enquirer, looking at the "past, present and future" of newspapers. It will examine ethical questions and the Leveson inquiry, as well as issues around declining print revenues and the rise of digital media.
The NTS's artistic director, Vicky Featherstone, said the project, which was announced on Thursday, emerged from a discussion she had with director John Tiffany in December.
"A lot of our peers, people we grew up with, are journalists, and we'd had discussions with them about this 'crisis' – as they called it – in journalism. It is the hardest thing for journalists to be able to talk about their own situation."
Which is where theatre comes in, she said. "Theatre is an amazing place to be able to ask the big questions, not necessarily to know what the answers are but just put the questions out there and begin a debate.
"We are not doing a piece where a single writer with a single voice will come up with a state-of-the-nation piece with a conclusion and a thesis. This will not be a complete analysis of where we are at now."
The production is a collaboration with the London Review of Books, and involves three journalists – Paul Flynn, Ruth Wishart and the Guardian's Deborah Orr – interviewing other journalists, as well as printers, retailers and readers. That testimony will be edited down by Featherstone, Tiffany and the writer, and London Review of Books contributing editor Andrew O'Hagan. It is all being prepared "deliberately quickly", said Featherstone, with the production set to open at the end of April.
It will be staged on the top floor of a building called The Hub, in the media quarter of Glasgow, with a promenade performance for audiences of around 70.
"Because of what newspapers are, we wanted to respond immediately to what we were feeling and what people were telling us," said Featherstone. "We want it to be in the moment."
For that reason, producers will update the project through rehearsals and performances to reflect whatever developments might occur. The show will be in Glasgow from 26 April until 12 May, and travel to an east London venue in October, in association with the Barbican. It will be directed by Featherstone and Tiffany, whose biggest success was the international hit Black Watch, a play based on interviews with soldiers which began life at the Edinburgh festival in 2006 before travelling across the UK, the US, Canada and Australia.
Twitter had this to say about The Enquirer:
- Billy Boyd is appearing in the exciting new @NTSonline announced today!
- In the cast of @ntsonline's Enquirer are Maureen Beattie, John Bett, Billy Boyd, James Anthony Pearson and Gabriel Quigley
- #Enquirer a site-specific piece constructed from interviews from those in the newspaper industry.
- New production announcement! "Scottish National Theatre to tackle 'crisis in newspaper journalism' http://gu.com/p/368bq/tw via @guardian"
Andrew Scott & Billy Boyd will be reading Martin Amis & Irvine Welsh at the Criterion Theatre on March 30th
Stories Before Bedtime is a series of late-night readings designed to champion the love of reading and stories and to transport the audience back to when being read aloud to before bedtime was a fundamental part of one's daily life. Come and listen to classic short stories come to life in the mouths of some of this country's leading actors and actresses.
Hot on the heels of February's Twisted Love starring Tom Hiddleston and Russell Tovey comes this raucous evening of comic twists and star turns featuring extracts from Jerome's classic book Three Men in a Boat.
Fresh from the movie set of Irvine Welsh's Ecstasy, Billy Boyd (Lord of the Rings) will be reading Irvine Welsh's darkly hilarious short story The Granton Star Cause.
Andrew Scott (Moriarty from Sherlock Holmes) will be reading an extract from Martin Amis' debut coming-of-age novel The Rachel Papers.
Friday 30th March 2012.
Details and ticket information at Criterion Theatre