The Cheviot, the stag, and the black, black oil. By John McGrath. This play revitalised Scottish theatre. A Scottish history lesson delivered as ‘a good night out’. Higher English The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil learning resources for adults, children, parents and teachers. 2 Apr The reason The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil still works is undoubtedly down to the exuberant performances of the company.

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The television audience must be differently addressed since it is patently not local and gathered together proximally to share a popular entertainment but is dispersed, ad in separate rhe spaces. Or do they want us to fly people in to do the job for them? What the play is about: But, as he puts it in his essay on ‘Mediating Contemporary Reality’: The circumstances which gave rise to this initial achievement were gradually eroded on a number of fronts which accounts for the difficulties in sustaining subsequently the first impact.

But we’ll fight Once again For this country is the people’s Yes we’ll fight once again.

“Play for Today” The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil (TV Episode ) – IMDb

At its best on McGrath’s terms but in the words of Bold, ‘the cast drew the audience into the action as if all present at a given performance were involved in an open conspiracy against authority’.

John Byrne’s set Another innovative anr of the show was the ‘pop-up book’ stage set, designed and painted by John Byrne. Thf another example, a physical attack by the police on women resisting eviction in the Clearances is dramatised along with their victory of ducking the local constabulary in the river.

In sum, ‘we get all the scab jobs’ and ‘they treat us like animals’.

The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil

I propose in the final section bpack this essay to locate the TV Cheviot in the context of the seminal debate about television tthe in the s and early s in which McGrath’s views were influential. But if you think I’m doing this for you You’d better think again ‘cos I’m a business-man too. It lists political resistance to the evictions such as the Land Leagues of the s, which are contrasted with the Victorian landed gentry’s passion for stag hunting ; this and the sheep industry now having taken over many millions of acres.


Before the television audience ‘enters’ the hall it is confronted by a shock of images. Though to some extent the Close-Ups blak theatre performance and audience draw the television viewer into Dornie village hall, McGrath aimed to deploy an interruptus.

The Cheviot, the Stag, and the Black Black Oil – Wikipedia

From Aprilbeginning at a venue in Aberdeen Aberdeen Arts Centre[1] [2] it was performed in a touring production in community centres on Scotland by 7: Time was extremely tight and, fitting his vision to the circumstance, McGrath proposed:. Writing inMcGrath noted that: Another innovative feature of the show was the ‘pop-up book’ stage set, designed and painted by John Byrne.

Evidently, wnd of the Dornie audience know well that they have been sold out by these men, and their laughter and applause has a sense of recognition and shared feeling which I personally can observe but not entirely share. I shall return to the question of theatre language and the capacity of television for intervention in the socio-political process but, on the face of it, a play on television cannot meet these conditions.

The aim was to produce avowedly socialist theatre in an entertaining form and, in general terms, this entailed: The argument applies equally to television where, because of tight institutional constraints imposed – at the time of the making of the TV Cheviot – as much by the trades unions as by management, it was not possible to attempt chevoot working basis of the 7: The aim was to produce avowedly socialist theatre in an entertaining form and, in general terms, this entailed:.

Macmillan,p. These modal switches, adding to the sharp jumps between comic sketch, Gaelic ballad, didactic speech and community song already in the structure of the theatre-piece, resulted in a very bold piece of television. In terms of presenting a picture of society it can only reveal small clusters of subjective consciousnesses, rarely anything more The framework of presentation is the popular Scottish entertainment form of the ceilidh.


As several commentators 44 have noted, various paths were taken by Leftist makers of political theatre in the early s. Replacing Patrick Sellars’ monologue and mock poems to heroic victory, 31 an actor chevoit Sellars addresses the camera claiming that ‘nobody suffered in the Clearances’ whilst the camera pans across derelict crofts to pick up the splendour of Dunrobin castle.

For the most part the dialogue in these film inserts follows that in the playscript though, on occasion, a glack usually that of Bill Paterson narrates. Through the marked shifts in both theatrical and televisual modes a different kind of political awareness is promoted in the television audience reliant less on a heightened emotional awareness of shared history and more on a recognition through critical distanciation of what had happened, and is happening, to the Scottish people.

More specifically identifiable, an cheviott, Cheviot sheep and a hunted ztag visually prefigure the battles of The Cheviot: The TV Cheviot The television adaptation follows the published Cheviot playscript quite closely, some small changes in the narrative order clarifying the line of the story.

It details where the people went: The Performers — a bunch of folk who didn’t seem ready: Television director John Mackenzie saw The Cheviot and, like many others, was enthralled by the piece.

The theatre can never cause social change. As a Sassenach outsider, I understand what is going on and share a political sympathy with the abused Scottish people but I do not share an embodied pattern memory of cultural history which informs the collective response anx the village hall. They also disagree about theatre language.

blzck John McGrath did not invent touring theatre, but he certainly reinvigorated it, and opened the door to new audiences, venues and — before long — new touring companies. First reading at the ‘What kind of Scotland?