Gregory Burke's 'Black Watch' has stunned audiences and critics at home and abroad, and has been the most acclaimed of the National Theatre of Scotland's productions.
It is the most celebrated Scottish play of recent years.
First performed at the Drill Hall, Edinburgh, 5 August 2006. Directed by John Tiffany.
Cammy – Brian Ferguson
Granty – Paul Rattray
Rossco – Jordan Young
Macca – David Colvin
Stewartry – Ali Craig
Nabsy – Nabil Stuart
Writer and Sergeant – Paul Higgins
Fraz – Emun Elliott
Kenzie – Ryan Fletcher
Officer – Peter Forbes.
'A'right. Welcome to this story of the Black Watch. At first, I didnay want tay day this. I didnay want tay explain myself tay people ay. See, I think people's minds are usually made up about you if you were in the army. They are though ay?'
'Black Watch' takes us from a Fife pub to an armoured wagon in Iraq and back via a potted history of the famous regiment.
A writer interviews a group of young servicemen as they drink and play pool. We see them again in the desert at Camp Dogwood in 2004 as part of the war on terror.
'I really couldnay ever have seen myself behind the deli counter in Tesco or anything like that. I always wanted tay be a soldier'.
'If God was a railwayman then things would stay on track. Things would run smoothly. I’d say God works in head office. I’d say God wears a suit.'
'The central core of the regiment has always been the heartland of Perthshire, Fife, Dundee, and Angus. It both represents and reflects those communities ... The Black Watch is a tribe.'
– Gregory Burke.
What other recent Scottish play has had comparable success? Gregory Burke's hit has toured extensively, connecting with audiences and picking up awards at all stops on the way.
Gregory Burke confirmed his place as the star Scottish dramatist of the first decade of the 21st century with his powerful take on the Scottish involvement in the Gulf War.
Based on interviews with veterans from Burke's own Fife, it is powerful, violent and funny. It takes an often poetic look at Scots at war today and in the past.
John Tiffany's production connects with other plays from Scottish theatre's recent past. Using music, movement, spectacle and passion, it follows in the great tradition of 'The Cheviot, the stag, and the black, black oil' and 'Mary Queen of Scots got her head chopped off'.
'The foundation stone of Gregory Burke as a playwright is his grasp of different kinds of male relationship: camaraderie, community and rivalry are all present between his characters, but they are always talking the same language and wired for the same feelings. His new piece "Black Watch" fits this hypothesis perfectly.'
– 'Financial Times'.
'"Black Watch" is a glorious piece of theatre, raw, truthful, uncomfortable, political, funny, moving, graceful and dynamic.'
– 'Scotland on Sunday'.
'A magnificent piece of social and political theatre. A high point not just of the festival but of the theatrical year.'
– 'The Observer'.
'It's a superlative play ... brimfull of theatricality, energy and style, and with its cast of 10, pipe music and huge video projections, it's almost a mini-Tattoo. But there's no flag-waving here, just a deeply humane examination of the culture of soldiering ... a brilliantly realised piece.'
– 'Evening Standard '.
'... both a hymn to soldiers and an indictment of the foolishness that makes their jobs necessary, shot through with odd, affecting grace notes of music and dance. And beneath it all, the low unmistakably Scottish hum that signals an inescapable call to duty.
The sadness that underscores every scene comes from the knowledge that the battles have been picked by venal politicans who couldn't care less about the best interests of the soldiers fighting them.'
'Black Watch' won 22 awards between 2006 and 2009. They included two international awards, and four of the 2009 Olivier awards.
© National Library of Scotland 2010