National Theatre of Scotland ‘Wizard of Oz’ collab features people of Paisley

National Theatre of Scotland in partnership with OneRen, supported by Future Paisley presents - OZ! - A Yellow Brick Road Adventure in Paisley

The people of Paisley are being invited on a creative journey with the National Theatre of Scotland, as they take up a year-long artistic residency in the town.

The work will culminate in a bold, interactive promenade performance of OZ! - A Yellow Brick Road Adventure, around the streets of Paisley in June 2023.

Inspired by The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the theatre company is beginning the engagement project this month, with partner OneRen supported by Future Paisley; and opportunities to get involved start from August with public workshops.

The National Theatre of Scotland is creating it own version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz for Paisley over the next year. Picture: Robert Perry

Over 200 local participants, alongside professional actors and artists, will be involved in the co-creation, as the National Theatre also collaborates with Scottish artists Cora Bissett and Bex Anson.

The co-creative lead artists said: “We met during lockdown and decided to combine forces to take on this massive and exciting challenge of creating a new large-scale work with the people of Paisley.

“We are already bowled over by the amount of talent, ingenuity and passion of the people of Paisley and by the town’s rich history and quirky buildings.”

The carnivalesque performance will pass around the town centre with iconic buildings transforming into the Land of Oz including The Paisley Centre, the public realm space at County Square, The Paisley Cenotaph and Outspoken Arts Scotland’s venue The Art Department.

Cora and Bex added: “We are looking forward to bedding ourselves into Paisley over this next year and dreaming up a contemporary, fantastical reimagining of this timeless classic which everybody knows and loves.”

Cora Bissett is working with fellow theatrmaker Bex Anson on the National Theatre of Scotland's adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Picture: John Devlin

The performance will feature a brand-new script and original songs created by the people of Paisley as the two directors lead a team of artists working alongside local community groups such as Kibble, The STAR Project, Paisley Men’s Shed, and YOProducers.

The 12-month project is in partnership with Future Paisley - led by Renfrewshire Council with OneRen, who care about the positive difference culture can make to a place and people’s lives.

They aim to invest £100m of Renfrewshire funds to transform Paisley’s unique historic venues and create new homes for cultural activity, which will be showcased during Paisley’s OZ!

Chair of OneRen and the Future Paisley partnership board, Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes, said:

“This is a fantastic addition to Paisley’s annual events programme – and one that helps strengthen the area’s growing reputation as one of Scotland’s must-visit destinations for top-class cultural events.

The cast of the family pantomime version of The Wizard of Oz.

“What excites me most is that community engagement and participation is at the very heart of it. Oz! will provide opportunities for local freelance artists and organisations but also employment for local people, as well as the chance to learn from and be inspired by the team of nationally-recognised artists and performers which National Theatre of Scotland have pulled together.”

The first of the workshops have been announced including a song writing workshop for theatre, with Emmy award-winning composing duo Roddy Hart and Tommy Reilly - people can book online from July 2.

Jackie Wylie, the Artistic Director of National Theatre of Scotland said:

“The National Theatre of Scotland is at its best when it is working alongside a like-minded partner on a project that celebrates and casts a spotlight on the brilliance of a particular place and its people.

“As we embark on this wonderful adventure down the yellow brick road in Paisley, I want to acknowledge the vision of both One Ren and Future Paisley and our lead artists Cora Bissett and Bex Anson.

“We have between us the courage, the heart and the brains to bring together all of Paisley in this ambitious celebration of talent, storytelling and creativity, building up to OZ! an unmissable, spectacular event across the town in 2023.”

For more information on how to get involved you can visit the stall at Sma’ Shot day, email  [email protected] or visit the National Theatre web page.