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"We're just big bullies..." Gregory Burke's Black Watch

The Drouth
Publication Date
  • Pn2000 Dramatic Representation. The Theater
  • Political Science


It seems almost disloyal, traitorous even, to voice critique of the National Theatre of Scotland’s flagship production, Black Watch. Based partly on interviews with former members of the eponymous Highland regiment who recently served in Iraq, it was the undisputed hit of the 2006 Edinburgh International Festival Fringe picking up a rake of five-star reviews and theatre awards on both sides of the border. The Scottish press reported its successful 2007 US tour in terms usually reserved for national sporting champions: Black Watch appears to be firm favourite in the ‘most successful Scottish play of all time’ competition. Praised highly by Alex Salmond, the new SNP Government mounted two Gala productions to mark the opening of the new Scottish parliamentary session. Consequently, Black Watch now bears its own burden of representation: it is not simply a Scottish play about Iraq; it is the Scottish play about Iraq. But despite the seemingly universal praise that Black Watch has received, its politics are deeply problematic.

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