As work to restore and redevelop Perth Theatre gathers pace, artistic director Lu Kemp has been putting together a series of off-site productions and projects that will lead up to the theatre reopening in late 2017.

Since Lu joined Horsecross Arts as artistic director for Perth Theatre last year, she has been meeting people and talking to schools and organisations across Perthshire to inform the selection of shows and community initiatives that will take place over the coming months.

Community is at the heart of the off-site programme which includes a tour of rural venues, collaboration with local people on two new shows, schools’ performances and children’s theatre, combining the best existing work from across the UK with new work by some of Scotland’s most innovative theatre companies.

Highlights include a tour of the award-winning play And Then Come the Nightjars in association with Theatre by the Lake, Keswick. By turns heart-breaking and hilarious, this poignant drama charts the chaos that Foot and Mouth disease caused communities and friendships when it swept through the British countryside. And Then Come the Nightjars opens at Theatre by the Lake, Keswick on Mon 3 April before touring to Scottish theatres and Perthshire town halls and arts venues.

Alongside the tour, award-winning playwright Kieran Hurley and director Lu Kemp will be talking to members of the community across Perthshire about the changes in agriculture and land ownership across the past two decades. These conversations will form the basis for a new piece of documentary theatre, drawing directly on interviews with local people, which will be performed in Perth Theatre when it reopens.

Perth Concert Hall and partners Blair Atholl Village Hall will be transformed into a magical universe for young children for Andy Manley and Teater Refleksion’s Night Light on Monday 8 (Blair Atholl Village Hall) and Wednesday 10 May (Perth Concert Hall). Small people and their grown-ups will cosy up in a specially designed tent for a performance about the adventures of a young girl through the dark, and beautiful light.

The National Theatre of Scotland, Perth Theatre and Stellar Quines present The 306: Day in a venue soon to be announced. The second part of the 306 Trilogy, The 306: Day follows last year’s production of The 306: Dawn, staged last May in Dalcrue Farm, Perthshire. It tells the forgotten story of three women during World War 1 and their struggle to survive in a world that won’t listen. The final part of the trilogy will be performed in 2018.

Schools productions include Tortoise in a Nutshell and Theatre Katapult’s Fisk in Perth Grammar School on Tuesday 14 February. The story of a man and a fish caught up in turbulent seas, Fisk will be a theatrical tour-de-force, told through puppetry, movement and intricate design – directed by Perth born and bred Ross McKay. Lu Kemp directs Oliver Emmanuel’s English version of Jan Sobrie’s Titus in a touring school production which runs from Tuesday 7 to Wednesday 15 March. This drama about a young boy with big problems and a bigger imagination will play in primary and secondary schools across Perth & Kinross, before travelling across the seas to the Lincoln Center, New York, and the Kennedy Center in Washington.

Lu Kemp said:

“We are programming a season of work both in the lead-up to the theatre reopening and once we open our doors, which we hope will entertain and engage our audiences with stories that matter to them. We want to bring them theatre performances which transform and transport them, and for the theatre itself to be a place which engages people in conversation with us and with their community.”

As part of that conversation, when the theatre reopens, Perth Theatre will be hosting the Southbank Centre’s Women of the World (WOW) festival. WOW champions gender equality, celebrating the achievements of women and girls everywhere and examining the obstacles that keep them from fulfilling their potential.

“We hope to welcome as many men and boys to the WOW festival as women and girls – it’s for and about everybody!” continued Lu Kemp.