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The National Theatre of Scotland returns to the Edinburgh International Festival in 2020 with a new staging of Liz Lochhead’s fierce and powerful adaption of Euripides’ Medea.

P137 Medea Adura Onashile 194 Square Website Adura Onashile as Medea | Photo: Peter Dibdin

Former Scots Makar Liz Lochhead makes her International Festival debut with her modern adaptation of the timeless Euripides play, in contemporary Scots-language packed with lyrical intensity and poetic flair.

The title role is played by award-winning performer Adura Onashile, with the production directed by Michael Boyd, former Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). Medea marks Boyd's homecoming to the Scottish stage - where he worked for many years as Artistic Director of the Tron Theatre, Glasgow - premiering at The Hub, home of the International Festival.

The play tells the story of Jason and Medea, refugees in Corinth, Greece, who cling together as they struggle to bring up their children in an alien and unsympathetic society. Jason forms a plan to better integrate himself which involves abandoning his wife and the mother of his children, leaving a spurned, destitute and desperate Medea forced to exact terrible retribution.

Lochhead’s Medea was first staged in Glasgow in 2000 by Theatre Babel, directed by Graham McLaren with Maureen Beattie in the starring role. The production went on to tour nationally, as well as visiting the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in both 2000 and 2001, where it played to critical and audience acclaim.

Liz Lochhead is one of Scotland’s leading writers and broadcasters, perhaps best-known for Scottish theatre works including her adaptation of Molière’s Tartuffe and Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off. Her writing is renowned for its use of contemporary Scots, infusing her work with the energy, wit and rhythm of the language. She was named Scots Makar in 2011 and awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2015.

Michael Boyd was born in Belfast and studied at the University of Edinburgh. After beginning his career directing at the Belgrade and Crucible Theatres, he returned to Scotland to become founding director of Glasgow’s Tron Theatre in 1985. He became Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2003, with notable stagings including his Histories Cycle and the Complete Works festival, the largest project ever undertaken by the RSC. Boyd has visited the International Festival on two previous occasions, bringing the Tron Theatre Company’s Clyde Noveau to the Festival in 1989, and Good in 1992.

Adura Onashile is an award-winning Glasgow based writer, actor and director whose work is known to audiences in Scotland and beyond, having toured to India, Brazil, Trinidad, Jamaica, South Africa, Zimbabwe and New Zealand. She has premiered two sell-out shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, winning the Scottish Arts Club and Edinburgh Guide Best Scottish Contribution to Drama in 2013 and 2016, a Fringe First award, and has been highly commended for the Amnesty International Freedom of Speech award.

The National Theatre of Scotland returns to the International Festival following two world premieres in 2019, Red Dust Road, adapted from Makar Jackie Kay’s memoir of the same name, and Tim Crouch’s Total Immediate Collective Imminent Terrestrial Salvation. Previous International Festival collaborations include Midsummer, Realism, The Bacchae, The James Plays, Dragon, Paul Bright's Confessions of a Justified Sinner and Anything that gives off light.

International Festival Director Fergus Linehan said: “Since the National Theatre of Scotland's launch in 2006 it has held a unique place in this country's cultural landscape, and it regularly provides exciting additions to the Edinburgh International Festival's theatre programme. 

“Medea is a shining example of this, a Scottish adaptation of a great tragedy, directed by one of the most celebrated British theatre directors.”