About Shakespeare at Traquair
Shakespeare at Traquair is an inclusive group of volunteers. It is open to all age groups, ethnic backgrounds, theatrical experiences, location, politics. Auditions are usually held in Peebles. The cast and crew can amount to up to 100 people.
Shakespeare at Traquair was formed in 1995 by Richard Nisbet and Judy Steel. Initially part of a campaign to open an arts centre in Peebles (since realised with the opening of the Eastgate Theatre and Arts Centre in March 2004), it has become an extremely popular event.
20 Years of Shakespeare at Traquair
To celebrate our 20th anniversary, 2015 was our busiest year yet with Hamlet at Traquair House, Shakespeare Shorts including performances at the Edinburgh Fringe, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and the Herbal Bed. The Eastgate Theatre also hosted an exhibition of costumes, props, photographs and videos from our productions in September/October 2015.
The audience is limited to 100 people per performance and takes place in the grounds of Traquair House, regardless of weather. The audience promenade around the grounds from scene to scene, and there are eight performances in total over a two week period at the beginning of June. Audiences come from Edinburgh, the Lothians, Fife, Dumfries, Carlisle, Glasgow and across the Borders. And sometimes when visiting from abroad.
Shakespeare at Traquair gives the cast and crew an outstanding experience of theatre and all its craft and introduces them and the audience to the magic of the language of Shakespeare. It proves that poetry should be heard and seen for it to live and be accessible. The audience and cast are a nose away from each other: demanding for the cast and an overwhelming unique experience for the audience to hear the heart beat of Juliet, the breath of Prospero, to smell the sweat of Macbeth, to smell the beer of Sir Toby, to see the tear of Romeo, to rub shoulders with the Fool, to dance with the Clown.
The main aim of the group is to experience and promote the works of Shakespeare at Traquair House. Through rehearsal, workshop and production, experience all theatre craft in the particularly demanding outdoor promenade media and introduce Shakespeare’s language to young people (and old) in a way that is fun and accessible.
Shakespeare Away from Traquair
We also put on plays in theatres and village halls in and around the Scottish Borders and also at the Edinburgh Fringe. We have performed at the Eastgate Theatre and Arts Centre since it opened in March 2004. In fact we were the first local theatre group to put on a produce with our Shakespeare Revue, which included Shakespeare’s Canon and Gentleman of the Shade. Other local venues include Carlops Village Hall, Cardrona Village Hall, Biggar Municipal Hall and the Biggar Corn Exchange.
We have also performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and in 2015 our youngsters performed to sell out audiences with two shows based around Macbeth and The Comedy of Errors. In 2016 they were back at the Fringe with two more productions of Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet. There are fantastic opportunities for our youngsters to be a part of the world’s largest arts festival. We plan to return in 2018, after having a rest in 2017!
We are a friendly, inclusive group and welcome people of all ages who would like to act or help behind the scenes.
Adult auditions (+14 years) for our annual May/June promenade productions are usually held either in December or January. We also put on other shows and auditions are held for these too. Details are emailed to those in our database, advertised on our website and in the local press.
Children’s auditions, really workshops, are held in early spring for our Traquair productions. Under 18s have played many key roles in our productions and we also put on plays where the children play all the parts. These include 2013’s Taming of the Shrew and a Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2014’s Shakespeare’s Canon. In 2015 and 2016, our youngsters put on sell out shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. These were The Comedy of Errors and Macbeth (2015) and Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet (2016). We plan to put on another Fringe performance in 2018.
- The Taming of the Shrew and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2013)
- Shakespeare’s Canon (2014)
- The Comedy of Errors and Macbeth (2015)
- Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet (2016)
Behind the Scenes
Although we do not build large sets, there is always a need for willing and creative people to be involved in the show and we have had to build thrones, fire places, prison doors, pub bars, spiral stair cases, stocks, a tomb, beds, a variety of banners and numerous other things.
Please email us if you would like to help or for any other details.