12 July, 2021

Sound Stage premières Sophia – life of Scotland’s first practising female doctor

Pitlochry Festival Theatre, The Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh in association with Naked Productions are delighted to present, on Sound Stage, from the 27-29 August the world première of Frances Poet’s new play Sophia based on the life of Sophia Jex-Blake, Scotland's first practising female doctor.Sophia tells the story of Sophia Jex-Blake, a formidable woman who battled for a woman's right to a medical education and license and who went on to become the first practising female doctor in Scotland. In 1869 Blake applied for admission to the Medical Faculty of the University of Edinburgh, only for her application to be rejected on the grounds that the University could not make the necessary arrangements "in the interest of one lady". Poet’s inspiring new play tells the story of Blake’s campaign and the struggles for her and her fellow women to secure the right to a medical education.

Sophia’s exciting cast will feature Madeleine Worrall (Jane Eyre and Peter Pan, National Theatre) as  Sophia Jex-Blake; Clare Perkins (Emilia, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and West End, Ava Hartman in EastEnders, BBC and soon to be seen in Stephen Merchant’s new television series The Offenders) as Edith Pechey; Paul Higgins (Line of Duty, Hope Springs and The Thick of It, BBC, Utopia, Channel 4 and In The Loop, BBC Films) as Dr Robert Christison; Natalie Grady (Tartuffe, RSC/Birmingham Rep ) as Ursula DuPre;  Maryam Hamidi (River City, BBC Scotland and Nora: A Doll’s House, Citizens Theatre) as Isabel Thorne;  Muireann Kelly (In My Father’s Words, Dundee Rep ) as Helen Evans; Robin Laing ( DI Donald in River City, BBC Scotland; Gavin Laird in Shetland, BBC Scotland; and Band of Brothers, HBO) as Lord Provost and Mr Russel; Fletcher Mathers (The 306: Day, National Theatre of Scotland) as Margaret Todd;  Elizabeth Poet (Gut, Traverse Theatre and BBC Radio 4) as May Thorne.

The new play is directed by the BAFTA-nominated writer and director Janys Chambers (North and South, Pitlochry Festival Theatre) with original music by singer-songwriter Nicolette Macleod and sound design by Paul Cargill.

Frances Poet is a Scottish playwright whose recent works include FibresGut (winner of the Writers Guild Best Play Award), and the multi-award-winning Adam. Frances has also completed several classic adaptations including The MacbethsWhat Put the Blood (Andromaque)Dance of Death and The Misanthrope as well as the radio plays ALT DeleteGut and The Disappointed and scripts for film and television.

Playwright Frances Poet said:

“Scotland’s first woman doctor, Sophia Jex-Blake, was fiercely intelligent and loyal but it was her stubbornness that allowed her to change the world for the better. Over the last couple of years, I have really enjoyed getting to know this incredible woman through writing Sophia. She was a formidable woman who battled for a woman's right to a medical education and license, which not only made Britain a fairer place to live, but it also saved many women’s lives.”

Sound Stage is an exciting new audio-digital venture, designed by theatre makers and leading technologists, giving audiences a unique and engrossing online theatre experience of new plays from the best in British theatre which, in the future, Pitlochry Festival Theatre and the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh hope to produce on stage. Over the coming months new plays will also be premiered by Roy Williams and Timberlake Wertenbaker.

Every Sound Stage performance will be accompanied by a post-show event, hosted on Sound Stage, inviting audiences to engage further with these exciting new plays.

 Tickets for Sophia, along with the remaining two Sound Stage productions from Roy Williams and Timberlake Wertenbaker, are currently on sale and can be purchased through Pitlochry Festival Theatre and Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh websites.

For further information and to book tickets click here

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