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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Suddenly villages that did not merit even an advance factory for workers are being taken over by thousands of men in labour camps building oil-rigs, and oil-production platforms.

What others have said: The accident of a hastily-made television version yielded that juxtaposition of a wide range of modes which McGrath advocates in his critical writing.

On the one hand television viewers are drawn to identify with the pleasures taken in the village hall.

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

He was also active and influential in film and television as a screenwriter, director and producer. But if you think I’m doing this for you You’d better think again ‘cos I’m a business-man too. A fiddler opens proceedings bladk people gather and a dance follows the ‘formal’ presentation of the play.

The play details the aand history of North Sea oil from the North Sea Gas explorations ofand explores issues of shore and village destruction and pollution, accompanied by shots of refineries and plant. Before the television audience ‘enters’ the hall it is confronted by a shock of images.

The attempt at a convincing realistic representation in the film inserts throws into interesting relief the cartoon approach to characterisation of the theatre performances and these modes of representation are thrown further into relief by the documentary treatment of contemporary Aberdonians.

Hhe McGrath particularly, the working practices of the company were integral to the project. Section three invites the audience to learn the lessons of that history and resist the new invasion and displacement by American oilmen.

Moreover, being predominantly not Scottish, members of the audience are unlikely to know the songs or share those aspects of Scottish nationalism on which The Cheviot undoubtedly draws to create that sense of ‘open conspiracy against authority’.


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. Sounding a distinct echo of the Clearances, others are forced ‘to emigrate’ Iain and Pat Read by the invasion of highly-paid oilmen mostly from America. The first category of these consists of exterior reconstructions of historical events which are merely narrated in the theatre version.

In the TV Cheviotextensive use is made of collages of Vox Pops allowing local people from Aberdeen to relate their experiences directly to the television audience with the ring of authenticity. This opened to reveal five different backdrops to the action on stage.

The Cheviot, The Stag and the Black, Black Oil Tour

And that would give us the liberty then to cut away and shoot scenes on film which would help it along. The answer to this puzzle lies perhaps in two parts.

The juxtaposition between different forms was: Time was extremely tight and, fitting his vision to the circumstance, McGrath proposed: His systemised evictions of the Highlanders were the broadest and most brutal of all the Clearances, and he is evoked as representative of the issues of land ownership in the Highlands and Islands and the north of Scotland. Experiencing live ‘how moved they were’, 9 he wanted to try to convey through television to a broader public the tne impact of the theatre event.

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Its moods shift quickly from broad humour, to sentiment particularly in the Gaelic songsto overt political andd, back to comedy and on to documentary evidence, emotionally powerful in its context. McGrath continued writing and working for stage and screen throughout the s and into the new century, until his death in McGrath’s nervousness that the audience might find it too challenging would seem unfounded from the audience response at blakc time.

It can be a public emblem of inner, and outer, events and occasionally a reminder, an elbow-jogger, a perspective-bringer. With a final montage of images from to the Aberdeen riggers, the performers tell audience members that this is their land and urges them to resist exploitation, warning them that they will find the oil corporations even more insensitive than Patrick Sellar.


Turning to the second key feature of the TV Cheviota range of television inserts shot on film punctuates the recording of the Dornie hall event. In form, The Cheviot is a fast-moving collage of songs, jokes, music hall-derived sketches, parodies, anecdotes and documentary material.

The play briefly mentions the modern day exploitation of the Highlands by the tourist industry then makes political comparisons between the past and Bold acknowledges that ‘[t]his popular tradition has never entirely vanished: Precisely because the theatre piece is constructed to have specific local appeal, the broader Ane audience is to some extent excluded.

Elderly women sing along to the Gaelic songs. West Highland Publishing Co. The scope of The Cheviot is broad.

BBC Bitesize – Higher English – The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil

But we’ll fight Once again For this country is the people’s Yes we’ll fight once again. Political Theatre in Britain since London: As ‘the highland exploitation chain-reacted around the world’, 14 many of the displaced highlanders found themselves as ‘new world’ settlers further serving colonialist interests. In terms of tbe a picture of society it can only reveal small clusters sgag subjective consciousnesses, rarely anything more Time was extremely tight and, fitting his vision to the oul, McGrath proposed:.

It’s just thunderingly exciting to be able to talk to large numbers of people in the working class, and I can’t understand why everybody doesn’t want to do it. But it is the deployment of the various elements, the overall montage, rapidly inter-cutting the different modes which is distinctive.

He believe d that ‘[i]t is through its structures as much as through its product that [mainstream, building-based] theatre expresses the dominant bourgeois ideology’.