The Scotsman 26 June 2023

If you were to hazard a guess at Scotland’s ten most prolific playwrights, you would home in on a few likely candidates. They might reasonably include Rona Munro, David Greig, Jo Clifford and Peter Arnott, for example. Arnott has just had his 80th staged; Clifford has exceeded 100; the others are snapping at their heels.

One name unlikely to come up would be that of Elizabeth Newman. Why would it? She is not known as a writer but as the artistic director of Pitlochry Festival Theatre. Since moving from the Bolton Octagon five years ago, she has had plenty on her plate, having overseen the opening of the theatre’s idyllic outdoor Amphitheatre as well as a handsome 172-seat twin-level studio. “I’m biased, but I think it is the most beautiful studio space in Scotland,” she says. That is enough work for anyone, let alone the many productions she had directed and a few she has designed.

But hiding in plain sight is Elizabeth Newman the playwright. It is not only that she is responsible for the adaptation of The Secret Garden just about to open in the Amphitheatre under the direction of Ben Occhipinti. It is also that, without fanfare, sometimes even without credit, she has turned out dozens more. Only because I asked the question does she admit The Secret Garden is her 36th play. [READ MORE]

By Mark Fisher

MARK FISHER is a freelance theatre critic and feature writer based in Edinburgh and has written about theatre in Scotland since the late-1980s. He is a theatre critic for The Guardian, a former editor of The List magazine and a frequent contributor to the Scotsman and other publications. He is the co-editor of the play anthology Made in Scotland (1995), and the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide (2012) and How to Write About Theatre (2015) – all Bloomsbury Methuen Drama. He is also the editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls and What Do You Call That Noise? An XTC Discovery Book (both Mark Fisher Ltd).