Jump to start of page content
Scottish Arts Council - Link to home page

advanced search

Please Note:

As from 1 July 2010, this site will no longer be updated and will be retained for Archive purposes only.

For the latest information on the Arts, Creative Industries and Film & TV in Scotland please visit:

Home*Arts in Scotland*Drama*Features*Archive*Focus: Theatre Workshop
About us
Contact us
Latest news
Arts in Scotland
What's on
16 24 explore
Web help
Site map

Focus: Theatre Workshop

In 2000 Theatre Workshop became the first professional producing theatre in Europe to include professional disabled actors in all main house productions.

Theatre Workshop is an inclusive producing theatre that represents ‘the voices on the margins of society’. It aims to produce theatre that is well crafted, moving, challenging, beautiful, accessible and honest.  It has a commitment to high artistic values, the social model of disability which it adopted in 2000, and social inclusion.   ‘We give a voice through exploration of conflict and celebration of diversity and difference in the last uncensored space – the theatre.’

Theatre Workshop's background

2005 is the year that Theatre Workshop timeously celebrated its 40th birthday and Robert Rae’s 10th Year as Artistic Director.

Robert Rae, Haidi & Guiliano Guilliani; Photo: courtesy Theatre Workshop Theatre Workshop has evolved since its early days as Edinburgh’s fine arts and drama centre for children. It evolved into a community performance project and then on to a leading venue for small-scale touring companies.  In 1995 Robert Rae soon established Theatre Workshop as Scotland’s premier small-scale professional producing theatre.

Theatre Workshop fully engaged in the debate surrounding identity and inclusion in the New Scotland – and, along the way, collaborated with companies from India, Nicaragua, Japan and Palestine. The Community Play was extended into a year-round activity delivering Inclusion and Education through the creation of theatre.

In summer 2004 Theatre Workshop celebrated the European Year of Disabled People with a large scale production of Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera which achieved sell-out performances and gave Nabil Shaban a nomination for a Critics Award for best actor.

Black Sun over Genoa

This year, over 800 intensive Community Workshops, with over 60 participants, included a range of disciplines from drama, music and dance to prop making and costume design.  This was led by a professional Theatre Workshop Artistic team who developed the creative skills of participants of all ages, backgrounds, gender, ethnicity, including marginalised groups of disabled and non-disabled participants. 

Scene from Black Sun Over Genoa; Photo: courtesy Theatre Workshop The resulting production, Black Sun over Genoa, told the human story behind the anti-G8 Demonstrations in Genoa 2001, and was a cultural working response to the G8 Summit taking place in Scotland in 2005.

The show proved a huge success ‘despite fierce competition with many other G8 events and productions running in Edinburgh simultaneously' (Ros Lambert, Communications & Development Director, Theatre Workshop). It played to substantial audiences and received standing ovations every night.

Scene from Black Sun Over Genoa; Photo: courtesy Theatre Workshop

‘brilliantly aware of the capabilities of a large community ensemble, Black Sun Over Genoa is a tremendous achievement’  - Mark Brown, The Sunday Herald

One participant said: ‘I will always be indebted to the directors, musicians, and the crew for helping me grow as an individual and an artist’.


Another major recent highlight was Degenerate3, Scotland’s third international disability arts festival, which ran as part of the 2005 Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme. Degenerate3 featured work by leading disabled performers across a variety of artforms. 

The 2005 festival has proven to be a huge success.  Kazuko Hohki won a Total Theatre Award and a Herald Angel for Evidence for the Existence of Borrowers; and Station House Opera won a Total Theatre Award for Roadmetal Sweetbread. Jasmine Hyde from Menagerie Theatre Company was nominated for Best Actress, Stage Award for her performance in Gaugleprixtown

Project Ability & Garvald produced one of two outstanding exhibitions hosted at Theatre Workshop, which will be shown at the Scottish Parliament in September 2005.

Read more about the festival in the Degenerate3 project article.

What's next at Theatre Workshop

This autumn sees in One hour before Sunrise, a new play written by poet & playright Ghazzi Hussein - a passionate and disturbing account of Hussein’s own experience of prison and torture. A possible tour of The Jasmine Road to Berlin may commence in October, and their Christmas production will be one inspired by the bi-centenary of Hans Christian Anderson’s life.

Theatre and disability
* Theme - Theatre and disability
* Profile - Robert Softley
Related links
* Theatre Workshop
* Edinburgh Festival Fringe
top of page print this page - opens in new window send to a friend  
Awarding funds from The National Lottery

© Scottish Arts Council. All rights reserved. Terms & conditions | Accessibility information