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Sunday, March 24, 2013


(Natalie Toyne)
Former Durban actress and singer Natalie Toyne is alive and well in the UK and working with New Inck Theatre at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow. Scenes Unseen offered an eclectic evening of new and previously un-staged work which opened on March 8.

The line-up of playwrights is impressive and features Alan Ayckbourn; Athol Fugard; J P Dunleavy; Patrick Marber; Andrew Stott; Julie Tsang Stef Smith, and Lynsey Murdoch.

“I'm really proud of it - it's been two years in the making with eight new short pieces, one being a new piece from Athol Fugard,” she said in a recent mail to artSMart.

“With a writer for a partner and many of friends and colleagues being multifaceted performers, writers and producers, I often see pieces of text put away in a drawer or hidden at the back of a hard-drive, sometimes before they are even read by outside eyes,” says Toyne. “The few pieces I get to read before they are buried are considered by the playwright to be too short, lacking enough substance to fill out a full-length play, or not suitable for the current platforms the theatre offers. Often, they are great moments worthy of a showing, some are absolutely brilliant, insightful pieces of work which are crying out to be performed.

“I was curious to see what pieces of writing – be they scenes, short plays or sketches – were sitting hidden on the hard-drives of well-established world-renowned playwrights, never having premièred because of the same reasons,” she continues. “I felt like an archaeologist beginning my dig, and while some warned that I may find that some of the pieces of work may have been hidden because they were not of quality, I knew that I could also unearth some precious gems.”

In June 2011, Toyne shared the seed of her idea for Scenes Unseen with Andy Arnold of the Tron Theatre. He was encouraging and positive that she should try to get established playwrights on board, and so the 2am starts began.

“I found that American literary agents were more open to unsolicited phone calls asking whether their famous clients would consider donating a world-premiere to my seedling of an idea, hence the early hours.” Toyne explains. “I was pleasantly surprised that so many were excited about the idea of creating a platform for previously unseen work of quality, and passed my email or letters onto their clients. I was even more surprised at how enthusiastic the playwrights were about the project and soon I had a number of scripts with which to work, all from playwrights I hold in high regard.”

Alan Ayckbourn helped Toyne financially through her studies at the RSAMD (now the RCS) so she contacted him directly. “He and I wrote letters to each other for the most part,” she says. “He was full of advice about the project, and what his piece (being such a technically challenging one) would need from the theatre’s technical department. Ron and Julie: A Technical Love Story, which he called “something more of a curio”, was written in the mid-80’s to showcase the National Theatre’s new technical department at the time. It was a one-off and has not been professionally produced since then. It is hilarious.”

Patrick Marber’s short sketch Casting was originally published in a magazine called ARETE and has never been performed. Athol Fugard is a hero of Toyne’s so she was delighted to receive an email from him with a scene from the play he was currently working on. Andy Arnold chose the last established playwright, J.P. Donleavy.

“The playwrights’ studio and word of mouth through the Scottish theatre network put me in touch with the emergent playwrights whose work will be showcased alongside the established playwrights pieces,” explains Toyne. “They are all incredible artists and I have already witnessed careers leaping to new heights in the short time since we first started pulling everything together. I am so pleased I got in there when I did! Rediscovering work hidden away for years, never been seen or even read by another until now, is an exciting process for the creative team and the audience at the Tron Theatre.”
 Scenes Unseen went extremely well and got four stars in the Times (, The Herald and the Scotsman. Toyne’s recent productions include Hairspray in Wales at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Sondheim's Company  at the Cottiers Theatre and Angels Punks and Raging Queens at the Tron Theatre. The link to her spotlight CV is