Client: Dundee Rep and Scottish Dance Theatre
I researched and provided evocative and informative copy for an A4 double-sided programme insert aimed at celebrating Dundee Rep Theatre’s eightieth anniversary, its resident ensemble’s twentieth anniversary, and ten years of it’s Enterprise @ The Rep engagement programme.
Eighty Years of Dundee Rep Theatre
Robert Thornley, a touring company manager, was instrumental in bringing together people to set up a repertory theatre for the city, which was formally established in September 1939. Thornley and his team refurbished the old Forrester Halls on Nicoll Street, and by December 1939 the new Dundee Repertory Theatre put on their first production.
Disaster hit on June 1st 1963, when a fire tore through the theatre at Nicoll Street, completely gutting this building. According to reports, flames reached up to 30 feet in the air, and the roof of the building crashed down just half an hour after firefighters arrived to tackle the blaze. The cause of the fire was attributed to a carelessly discarded cigarette. Later that year, the company moved into a temporary home at Lochee Road.
The old Dudhope Church was converted into a theatre space, but the building was unfit for purpose from the moment the Rep took up residence. Theatre Director, Robert Robertson described the working environment at Lochee Road as “appalling conditions,” but remarked that in spite of this, “the company continued to mount productions of verve and imagination, and the reputation of the Rep remained undimmed in the eyes of both the profession and the public.” Plans began almost immediately to create a permanent home for the Rep, but various setbacks and complications meant that the company’s temporary stay at Lochee Road lasted for seventeen years.
Between 1973 and 1978 the Rep’s Board of Directors examined a considerable number of proposals for rehousing the company. A scheme for a purpose-built theatre was submitted for a plot of land at Tay Square, gifted by the University of Dundee. There was a shortfall in funds, and a public appeal was launched to raise the necessary funds to complete construction work. The public of Dundee responded and incredibly raised over £60,000 in less than six weeks for their new theatre building.
The history of the theatre is a story of overcoming adversity and of artistic endeavour. Over the course of eight decades the company has been at the heart of performance in Dundee, and grown into a unique organisation with international reach.
The Dundee Rep Ensemble
In 1999, Artistic Director Hamish Glen led an experiment that would result in the most significant change to the Rep’s working model in decades. After successfully applying for funding, the Rep launched an ambitious million-pound programme to form a permanent acting ensemble at the theatre. The ambition was to create working conditions similar to European theatres, with long rehearsal periods, and actors able to develop new shows over months and even years.
The Dundee Rep Ensemble is unique, as it is the only professional permanent ensemble in Scotland. Actors Emily Winter, Irene Macdougall and Ann Louise Ross have been members of the ensemble since its formation, and are still performing with the company twenty years later.
Enterprise @ The Rep: Tenfold
Enterprise @ The Rep is our unique work experience and skills development opportunity for Dundee’s S4-S6 school pupils. Taking place throughout the entire building over two days, young people are guided through the process of applying for a job, from application through to shortlisting and interview, and for successful candidates, the chance to become an ‘employee’ at the theatre.
Participants work under the guidance of Dundee Rep and Scottish Dance Theatre staff in all areas of the theatre to bring to life a short scene from our Christmas production, culminating in a presentation for an invited audience of VIPs, educational specialists, industry professionals, family and friends.
This is a valuable experience, and the participants will be inspired to think about theatre and dance as a prospect for their future, and to see that there are opportunities and avenues for a potential career in the industry.
To celebrate a decade of the project, Enterprise @ The Rep: Tenfold will see us launch a season-long programme of workshops aimed at building employability skills for 14-26 year-olds.
The story of Dundee Rep and Scottish Dance Theatre is also the story of the people who make it. Actors, dancers, creatives, staff and above all participants and audiences. Your support helps us to continue to bring you the best theatre and dance performances, and provide unique engagement opportunities for people across the city.
By becoming a Friend of Dundee Rep and Scottish Dance Theatre, you will benefit from advance booking and discounts on certain shows, and will be joining a scheme which helps us inspire the next generation of actors, dancers, producers and directors, bringing together people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. It helps us to continue to push boundaries and expand the scope of our work.