History | Biographies | Reviews
Grid Iron are an Edinburgh-based theatre company who, following their incorporation in 1995 and their first show Clearance at the Traverse, Edinburgh, swiftly gained a reputation for creating high-quality, high profile shows. The Company went on to specialise in presenting shows in unusual locations. They are a new writing company who work in challenging sites that lend themselves especially well to Grid Iron’s taut production style. Occasionally they create work for the stage or use theatre buildings in a site-specific, promenade manner.
In 1997 Grid Iron produced their first full-scale site-specific production, The Bloody Chamber, their adaptation of Angela Carter’s Bluebeard fairytale, which they presented in famously haunted underground vaults beneath Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile. It was the company’s first appearance at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and, by the opening night, the show had sold out for its entire three-week run. Awards: Herald Angel for Outstanding Contribution and Achievement in Theatre and Total Theatre Nominations for Best Newcomers and Best Design.
The Bloody Chamber sold out again during the two weeks surrounding Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Festival and transferred for three weeks to The London Dungeon in March 1998, signalling the company’s first production outside Scotland. Once again the show sold out completely. The Bloody Chamber again received widespread public and critical acclaim in Northern Ireland during a three week run in November 98 as part of the Belfast Festival Fringe.
The company’s next show, Gargantua, was devised for Edinburgh’s Fringe 98 was again an award-winning sell-out success. The press and media billed it as the hit of the Festivals and the must-see event. Awards: Scotsman Fringe First for New Writing and a Stage Nomination for Acting Excellence - Best Ensemble.
In March 1999, Grid Iron presented Monumental by Anita Sullivan in The Citizen’s Theatre, Glasgow. For this promenade performance the company used the foyers, back alleys and car parks of the theatre complex to recreate the Moscow of Revolutionary Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky.
Next came the outdoor show Decky does a Bronco by Douglas Maxwell, again a massive hit during the Fringe Festival 2000 and subsequent three-week tour of Scotland. Decky does a Bronco toured again nationally during Summer 2001, presented by the prestigious Almeida Theatre, London. The show returned to the Edinburgh Fringe as part of The British Council Showcase and toured widely in Scotland for a further three weeks. It then toured to Cork with The Granary Theatre and to the Belfast Festival. Awards: Fringe First for Outstanding New Production and The Stage Award for Acting Excellence - Best Ensemble, Nominee – TMA/Barclays Stage Awards Best Touring Production.
A new interior show, Fermentation, was presented in Glasgow and Edinburgh in Jan/Feb 2002. Adapted from an erotic novella by Angelica Jacob, Fermentation is set in France during a heat wave and rubbish strike and charts the progress through pregnancy of Odissa, a writer whose craving for cheese has quite extraordinary effects on her dreams and reveries. Yet again, this was a critically acclaimed sell-out and named by Scotland on Sunday as one of the top 5 theatre events of the year.
Also in 2002 Grid Iron commissioned a new play, Variety, by Douglas Maxwell, which was performed in August at The King’s Theatre, Edinburgh in co-production with the Edinburgh International Festival and sponsored by Lloyd’s TSB Scotland.
Grid Iron produced two new site-specific shows in 2003, The Houghmagandie Pack, a special commission for the Burns an’ a’ That Festival which was performed in May in Alloway, Ayrshire in co-production with Unique Events and Those Eyes, That Mouth, which was the smash hit of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe before touring in Scotland. The tour saw the company experimenting with ways to transfer a site-specific piece on to the stage of conventional theatres. Those Eyes, That Mouth which won seven awards: Scotsman Fringe First, Herald Angel, Herald Devil, Stage Award for Acting Excellence - Best Actress, Daily Mail Spirit of the Fringe, Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland – Best Actress and the Stage Management Association Award for best stage management team.
In 2004, fierce; an urban myth, Grid Iron’s first non-site specific touring production since 1996, toured theatres all over Scotland in May and June before a run at the Assembly Rooms during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. fierce has received three awards: Stage Award for Acting Excellence – Best Ensemble, a Herald Devil and a Critics Award for Theatre in Scotland – Best Use of Music . It was also nominated for the TMA Theatre Award for Best Musical.
During November and December 2004 Grid Iron spent three weeks working for The British Council in the Middle East. In Beirut, Lebanon, they gave a five day workshop about devising and creating site-specific theatre. They worked in a disused cinema and hotel complex with a number of young local theatre practitioners. Grid Iron then spent two weeks in Amman, Jordan. In co-production with local company Takween Theatre and Arts Workshop they created a brand new site-specific show called Naw Nader Men Al Houb ( A Rare Kind of Love) based on the testimonies of young cancer patients of the King Hussein Cancer Centre and performed through the rooms and corridors of the hospital itself. This was the first time a piece of site-specific theatre had ever been produced in Jordan and was under the patronage of the Jordanian Royal family.
Grid Iron returned to Beirut for three weeks during November 2005, again funded by the British Council, to recreate Those Eyes, That Mouth and to make a brand new show, in Arabic, called The Story of the Death of Nagib Brax. Both productions were part of a Capacity Building and Skills Transfer project, designed by Grid Iron, and they worked with a team of 22 emerging theatre practitioners from Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Tunisia. This was the largest drama project ever undertaken by the British Council in the Near East/North Africa region and both productions sold out and were critically very well received.
In July 2005 Grid Iron produced The Devil’s Larder, which had been commissioned by Cork 2005 European Capital of Culture as part of Corcadorca’s Relocation programme, the largest drama project of the year-long cultural celebration. The Devil’s Larder transferred to the Edinburgh Fringe 2005 where it sold out several weeks before its opening night. It won four awards, Scotsman Fringe First, Total Theatre, Herald Archangel and The Carol Tambor Foundation Best of Edinburgh Award and was nominated for a further 4 Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland.
In April 2006 the company produced their tenth anniversary show, Roam, which was performed in the landside and airside areas of Edinburgh International Airport. A co-production with the National Theatre of Scotland, to date Roam has received 3 Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland – Best Ensemble, Best Technical Presentation and Best Overall Production for 2006. It also received nominations in a further 2 categories, making a grand total of 9 nominations received by Grid Iron for CATS 2006 (for Roam and The Devil’s Larder). Roam has also received 2 Arts & Business UK Awards – The Ogilvy Arts & Business Creativity Award and the Arts & Business Community Award and 1 Arts and Business Scotland Award - The New or Returning Sponsor Award.
Grid Iron’s 2007 production, Once Upon a Dragon, was an outdoor show for young children. Produced in Cammo Estate, Edinburgh in May it was the headline production of the Bank of Scotland Children’s International Theatre Festival, produced in association with Imaginate. This was the first time Grid Iron had produced work specifically for children (aged 5 to 7) and again the entire run sold out.
Grid Iron’s first 2008 show, Yarn, was a co-production with Dundee Rep which took place in the Verdant Works Museum of Textiles - a former Jute mill - and was another sell-out success.
In October 2008, Grid Iron visited Norway for the first time with a promenade show commissioned for The North Sea Project as part of Stavanger 2008 European Capital of Culture. Tryst, performed by a multi-national company of four actors and one musician, took place on a boatbuilders island in Stavanger Harbour.
In 2009, Grid Iron returned to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe after an absence of three years with a brand new site-specific performance set in their local pub, The Barony Bar. Barflies, adapted from stories by Charles Bukowski, examined the profound liberation of alcohol, its opening up of corners of sexuality and mental activity, as well as its more undesirable effects. The show sold out for its entire run before the festival opened.
Awards: Scotsman Fringe First, Herald Angel. Nominations: Stage Awards - Best Actress and Best Ensemble.
The first of Grid Iron's productions for 2010, Huxley's Lab, was a co-production with Lung Ha's Theatre Company, Scotland's leading inclusive theatre-makers. Huxley's Lab had a cast of 27, made up of Lung Ha's volunteer actors and 5 professional performers, who were all delighted to win the Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland for Best Ensemble. Performed in promenade over three floors of the University of Edinburgh's magnificent new Informatics Forum building, Huxley's Lab was created in association with the Edinburgh Festival Theatre and was part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival.
The second production for 2010 was a tenth anniversary remount tour of Grid Iron's hit outdoor show, Decky Does a Bronco. Decky toured all over Scotland and England for three months during the summer and once again proved extremely popular with critics and audience alike with cast member Martin McCormick receiving a nomination for The Stage Best Actor Award during our run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Bringing a very busy year to a close, Grid Iron's final performance for 2010 saw their first return to the actual stage in six years. In co-production with The Traverse Theatre Edinburgh, they presented Spring Awakening by Frank Wedekind in a new version by Douglas Maxwell as part of the Traverse Autumn season.