Dramatic developments at National Library

Apr 14 2010 | By More

Part of John Byrne's 'pop-up' set for John McGrath's The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil

By Thom Dibdin
The modern revival of Scottish theatre, from the Seventies to the present day, is to be the subject of a lecture from Professor Randall Stevenson at the National Library on George IV Bridge, this Thursday 15 April.

It will be the last of the events held during the Curtain up: 40 years of Scottish theatre exhibition, which runs to May 3 and covers exactly the same ground as the exhibition itself.

While Scottish literature has enjoyed an impressive renaissance since the Eighties, Professor Stevenson will argue that the revival in Scottish drama began significantly earlier, in the Seventies or even before. He will set out to explore the roots and nature of developments involved, the work of playwrights concerned and consequences which helped shape the wider success of Scottish writing later in the century.

Curtain up marks the achievements of Scottish theatre over the past 40 years. Using theatre archives, props and playwrights’ and actors’ papers, the exhibition highlights Scotland’s rich and vibrant theatrical tradition.

Visitors are taken on a thematic journey, with panels and cases of books, scripts, playbills and other memorabilia covering the political days of the Seventies and Eighties, through the outward-looking years of the Nineties and into the new millennium with the creation of a national theatre company.

Along the way the exhibition provides some insight to the companies and the venues – big and small – that they filled. Digging deeper, there is the opportunity to look at the versions of Scotland that writers have put on stage and such elements as the plays which have travelled further afield, and those imports which were  welcomed here.

The exhibition puts particular focus on The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil – John McGrath’s groundbreaking play, first performed in 1973 by the 7:84 theatre company and Black Watch – Gregory’s Burke’s award-winning international triumph, commissioned by the National Theatre of Scotland and first performed in 2006.

One of the most notable items on display is the original set for The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil – a giant pop-up-book which was painted by John Byrne and used by 7:84 when the company toured church and community halls in 1973. It is part of 7:84 Scotland’s archive which is now at the National Library of Scotland.

Film footage of some of the significant Scottish productions during the past 40 years, is also on display, with The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil, Mary Queen of Scots got her head chopped off, Europe and Home, the first production from the National Theatre of Scotland, all being available to watch.

Admission to both the talk and the exhibition is free. The exhibition runs to Monday 3 May and is open 9.30am-8pm weekdays, 9.30am-5pm Saturdays and 2-5pm Sundays. Full details are on the NLS website.

Dramatic Developments: Scottish Theatre from the Seventies to the Nineties starts at 6pm in the Boardroom at the George IV Bridge Building. Tickets are available from the NLS events line on 0131 623 3918, by emailing events@nls.uk or online at http://www.nls.uk/events/index.html



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