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Only at Live!

Published: 29 November 2018
Reporter: Peter Lathan

Newcastle’s Live Theatre is to host the only English date for the revival of an iconic Scottish play, The Cheviot, The Stag, and the Black, Black Oil, written by John McGrath (who actually came from Liverpool) in the 1970s and toured around Scotland, mainly to community centres, by his 7:84 Theatre Company.

The play covers the history of Scotland from the Highland Clearances to the North Sea oil boom. Its structure is based on a Ceilidh and brings together songs, poems, sketches and the end result is a very left wing piece of political theatre. 7:84 was known as an agit-prop company and took its name from the statistic revealed in The Economist in 1966 that, in the UK, 7% of the population own 84% of the wealth.

It was also the centrepiece of McGrath’s theatre manifesto, set out in his 1981 book A Good Night Out—Popular Theatre: Audience, Class and Form which began life as a series of lectures at Cambridge University in the late '70s.

The Cheviot… was last revived at Dundee Rep in 2015 and toured into 2016 when it was directed by Joe Douglas who is now Artistic Director at Live Theatre. This is the production which will be revived by the National Theatre of Scotland in a co-production with Live Theatre in 2019.

It will tour to Ardler Centre, Dundee (16 May); Eden Court, Inverness (19-20 May); Mareel, Lerwick (23 May); Macphail Centre, Ullapool (28 May); Dornie Village Hall (29 May); Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Skye (31 May); Minginish Community Hall, Skye (1 June) ACT, Aberdeen (4 June); Perth Theatre (5 June); Macrobert, Stirling (6 June); Charlestone Centre, Dundee (7 June), concluding at Live Theatre where it will run from Tuesday 11 to Saturday 22 June.

This is the second NTS / Live Theatre collaboration after the hugely successful Our Lady of Perpetual Succour (adapted by Lee Hall from the novel by Alan Warner) which played at Live in October 2015 after a five-star run at the Traverse during that year’s Edinburgh Fringe and going on to the National Theatre in London in 2016 and a West End run in 2017.

Joe Douglas directs, with design by Graham McLaren, musical direction by Aly Macrae, sound by M J McCarthy and lighting by Kate Bonney. The cast includes Stephen Bangs, Jo Freer, Christina Gordon, Calum Macdonald and Billy Mack.