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A Proposal for ambitious, large-scale, participatory project in Shetland considered for £175K support from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Today, Monday 9th May 2011, the National Theatre of Scotland, in partnership with Shetland Arts, is delighted to announce that an ambitious idea for a large-scale, participatory community project based on Shetland has been shortlisted for one of the UK’s biggest performance awards from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

The award was set up to support the creation of a new and spectacular production which will genuinely engage with local people. Worth £175,000, the annual award – devised and funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation – supports the development of a new performance piece in which leading professionals will work with communities. The aim of the award is to pioneer new ways of working through the arts using uncompromisingly high artistic standards.

The shortlisted National Theatre of Scotland proposal, Ignition, is one of only six ideas to have been shortlisted for the prestigious award, chosen from 62 bids submitted by producing companies across the UK.

The idea, conceived by Shetland Arts and developed with the National Theatre of Scotland, is to create a new, large-scale, participatory theatre production made by and for the island community of Shetland.

Ignition will explore our often complex relationship with the car in modern life – in particular, our love affair with, and dependence upon, the vehicle. Conceived as a thrilling and innovative piece of outdoor, site-specific theatre, contributors, participants and audience members will take part in an emotional and physical journey across the island by car. Ignition is inspired by the death of Stuart Henderson - a promising young member of Shetland Youth Theatre who died in a road accident in 2007 at the age of 18.

Created in partnership with Shetland Arts, the project aims to impact on all 23,000 island residents as they will be invited to contribute creatively, volunteer and experience the production as audience members. With this project, the National Theatre of Scotland hopes to develop its creation of new models for hosting and engaging rural communities in major arts and cultural events.

The other five shortlisted proposals include an interactive virtual version of a Brecht/Weill opera (Birmingham Opera Company); a Bonfire night spectacle involving homeless and disenfranchised men (Duckie, London); a dynamic poetry-based theatre production led by young British Somalis in Butetown, Cardiff (National Theatre Wales); the creation of a surreal world in Cornwall and London where the relationship between humans and animals will be explored (Wildworks); a London production inspired by the film Beijing Bicycle with indoor and outdoor performances on bikes (Young Vic, London).

The winner will be announced in late June and work will start immediately to develop the production with a £75,000 grant. The final production in 2013 will be awarded a further £100,000.

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