THE 18th season of Glasgow's celebrated lunchtime theatre series is extending its reach to Australia, China ...

and Greenock.

The Spring programme of A Play, A Pie And A Pint features new work by playwrights from Australia and China, and its productions will for the first time transfer to community theatres in Greenock, Bathgate and Ayr.

The Evening Times is media partner of the series, which recently beat theatres around the UK to be named Producer of the Year at The Stage 100 Awards.

The season of 19 plays, which run for one week each from Monday until Saturday, features a mix of genres including comedy, musical, tragedy, horror and farce.

It opens on January 28 with inter-generational comedy Only the Lonely, a new play by regular EastEnders screenwriter Ann Marie di Mambro.

It stars River City favourite Libby McArthur – better known as Shieldinch's Gina.

Former Taggart actor Colin McCredie is cast in the second play, Thank You (February 4-9), by emerging playwright Catrin Evans.

One of this season's highlights promises to be Glasgow crime novelist Denise Mina's new thriller, based on late-1950s Glasgow serial killer Peter Manuel.

Driving Manuel will open on March 18.

The winning play in the Channel 4/Oran Mor Comedy Drama Award will be staged in March to coincide with the Glasgow International Comedy Festival.

The Spring season also includes a new musical, Butterfly Kiss (April 15-20), from Wildcat Theatre co-founder Dave Anderson, in addition to new work by Scots Makar Liz Lochhead, entitled Mortal Memories (May 20-25).

For the first time this year, selected plays from the lunchtime series will also be staged at the newly-opened Beacon Arts Centre in Greenock, Ayr Gaiety Theatre and the Regal Community Theatre in Bathgate after their premiere in Glasgow's West End.

The spring programme also features co-productions with the National Theatre of Scotland, the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, Perth Theatre and Dundee Rep.

Australian writer Suzie Miller's work, In the Heart of Darby Park (Mar 25-30), is a collaboration with Perth Theatre.

Three plays by Chinese writers will be staged as the result of a collaboration with the National Theatre of Scotland.

Playwright Davey Anderson and NToS's literary manager George Aza-Selinger held workshops in Beijing and in Glasgow that laid the foundation for the plays.

Scottish writers Rona Munro, Catherine Grosvenor and Anderson then adapted the pieces that were translated from Mandarin into English by The School of Oriental and African Studies in London.

A Play, A Pie And A Pint producer David MacLennan said: "It was fascinating. The plays are all wildly different, just like our own writers'.

"By the time they're ready for the stage, if you didn't know the name of the writer, you probably wouldn't know where they came from."

l Visit or call Oran Mor on 0141 357 6200.