ANDREW Panton is about to begin his first season as new artistic director of Dundee Rep. Also the artistic director of musical theatre at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and creative director to Susan Boyle, Panton replaces Jemima Levick, who left the Rep to join Stellar Quines Theatre Company in Edinburgh last year.

The season kicks off next month with Panton’s new production of August: Osage Country, Tracy Letts’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play which went on to be a major film with an all-star ensemble cast including Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and Ewan McGregor. Other highlights include Johnny McKnight’s production of Deathtrap, the longest-running thriller in Broadway history, the 30th anniversary production of The Steamie, which is directed by writer Tony Roper, and Joe Douglas’s Stand By, an interactive, raw look at the modern police service written by former officer Adam McNamara.

Panton says: IT’S an exciting feeling to have launched my first season for Dundee Rep, a theatre that I’ve admired, watched shows in and made work for over the years. I’m proud to be building on the legacy of wonderful previous artistic directors and I’ve been made to feel very welcome in the last few weeks since I started in my new role.

My aim is to bring work to Dundee audiences that will excite and inspire. We can change the way we feel about each other and the world we live in by telling stories using words, song, music, movement and dance and that’s what I’m interested in making in this fantastic theatre.

The first show that I’ll direct is a Scottish premiere of August: Osage County. It was written, developed and first produced ten years ago at Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago where there is also a resident ensemble of actors — this seemed like a perfect piece of ensemble theatre to start with. It’s a taught family drama which, like most families, has more than a tinge of black comedy in there.

Across the season, I’ll be working with some of the country’s most exciting guest creatives to join our fabulous team here at the Rep, who work, mostly behind the scenes, to ensure the heart of our theatre keeps beating with creative energy. Integral to this energy is the Rep Creative Learning department and the voices, creativity and stories of the communities they work with from across Dundee and beyond. The acting ensemble will continue to be at the centre of everything we do — the engine room of the Rep and the power with which to tell these stories.

For Dundee Rep to play a part in this period of cultural growth in the city is a wonderful opportunity and it’s an honour to be steering that journey. I look forward to sharing our work with new Dundee audiences whilst also ensuring that audiences further afield get the chance to see our shows — they’re certainly something to shout about.

For more information, and to book tickets, see @DundeeRep