THE CHEVIOT, THE STAG, AND THE BLACK, BLACK OIL Returns For Nationwide Tour
One of Scottish theatre's most iconic and influential productions returns to the stage in 2019, in a special revival from the National Theatre of Scotland. First staged by the 7:84 company in the 1970s, John McGrath's The Cheviot, The Stag, and the Black, Black Oil has become a cornerstone of contemporary Scottish theatre. Successfully restaged by director Joe Douglas in 2015, the show broke box office records at Dundee Rep Theatre before touring Scotland to critical and audience acclaim.
Echoing the play's original tour in the 1970s, this 2019 revival will see it visiting art centres and community spaces in Dundee and across rural Scotland, before a 2-week run at Newcastle's Live Theatre, where Joe Douglas is now Artistic Director.
Forty-five years on from its original tour John McGrath's pivotal political play has lost none of its vitality and relevance, expertly weaving, songs, poems, scenes and sketches into a freewheeling Highland ceilidh. From the ruthless croft clearances of the 18th century to the fashionable Victorian game hunts, and the scars left by the '70s North Sea oil boom right up to the political upheaval of the current day, The Cheviot, The Stag, and the Black, Black Oil presents the stories and experiences of Scotland's land, sea, and people across the centuries.
Cast members from the 2016 production, Stephen Bangs, Jo Freer, Christina Gordon, Calum Macdonald, Billy Mack and Aly Macrae are reunited and joined by actor musician Reuben Joseph for the new 2019 tour.
Joe Douglas, Director said:
"This play has power. Or more specifically, it hands power back to audiences. It shows up the historic hypocrisy and systemic cruelty of wealthy landowners, aristocrats, oil tycoons and politicians - all in the name of profit - and shouts loudly and directly that "enough is enough". Change is occurring in many rural parts of the country and the position of Gaelic language and culture within the wider Scottish psyche is changing too - but change takes time, which is why this play is still so relevant almost 50 years on. It will be fascinating to see how The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil sits in village halls and other more intimate venues in 2019 and to see what it stirs up. At the very least, we promise a good night out."
The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil is the most famous production of the 7:84 company, set up by John McGrath alongside his wife Elizabeth MacLennan and her brother David in 1971. Avowedly socialist in its outlook, its aim was to take popular, political theatre to the working classes and they performed in alternative venues throughout Scotland, England and Wales. The title of the company derived from a 1966 statistic that 7% of the population of Great Britain owned 84 % of the wealth.
Joyce McMillan (The Scotsman) said of the production in 2015:
"Joe Douglas's glorious revival of what's arguably the single most important show in the whole history of Scottish theatre: important not only because of its angry, hilarious, brilliantly-researched political content, still almost frighteningly relevant today, but because its ceilidh form, and its passionate commitment to touring to communities large and small, galvanised an irreversible change in what Scotland thought theatre was, what it could do, and who its audience might be."
This show sees the National Theatre of Scotland collaborate with Newcastle's Live Theatre for the first time since the immensely successful co-production Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, which toured to the theatre following its debut in 2015, and went on to enjoy significant success across the world, most recently touring to London's West End and winning an Olivier Award for Best New Comedy in 2017.
The National Theatre of Scotland is committed to minimising the carbon footprint of its productions. As part of an investigation into making this a reality, the Company is piloting new initiatives and adjustments to the way they work, in their endeavour to make this production of the Cheviot, the Stag and the Black Black Oil as carbon neutral as possible. The long term aim is to make these initiatives part of a new model of best practice going forward.
Examples include: banning the use of single use plastic, recycling old National Theatre of Scotland sets to make the new set for the show, minimising print runs for marketing, minimising the purchase of new items, using low energy technical equipment, using digital technologies to reduce use of paper and measurement of energy consumption across the tour.
The National Theatre of Scotland is also part of the Greens Arts Initiative, a community of Scottish arts organisations working to reduce their environmental impact.
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Touring to Ardler Centre, Dundee (16 May); Eden Court, Inverness (19-20 May); Mareel, Lerwick (23 May); Stenness Community Centre, Orkney (25 May); Macphail Centre, Ullapool (28 May); Dornie Village Hall (29 May); Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Skye (31 May); Aros Centre, Portree, Skye (01 June); Aberdeen Arts Centre (04 June); Perth Theatre (05 June); Macrobert, Stirling (06 June); Charlestone Centre, Dundee (07 June); Live Theatre, Newcastle (12 to 22 June).