Friday, May 16, 2014


Author Alan Bissett performed two plays which were billed as scripted readings but were done with such professionalism they could easily have been full production ready to roll out at a moments notice.
The first play was an extract from "The Pure, The Dead and the Brilliant" , According to the Scotsman piece “The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant is a rambunctious, energetic piece of agit-prop – in the good, rousing manner of a John McGrath play or Oh! What a Lovely War – staged in the supernatural world of Scottish mythology.
“The faeries are divided about the impact the referendum will have on them, and set to try and influence its outcome. Along the way, cliches about the Scots are subverted and some home truths about our situation are faced.”
The theme is about the Faeries discussing how to get a No vote by using a distorted "patriotic" version of History , Seduction using the Mythology of "Great" britishness and how it has been good for the world and , mainly , Fear which seems to be the desperate touchstone of the Better Together campaign.

" Falkirk-born Bissett, one of the foremost voices in the cultural movement for independence, claims the aim of the play, which he says will be steeped in Scottish folklore, will be to bring “don’t knows” closer to the “yes” side of the debate."
The second play , directed by Cheryl Martin with a co-performance with Mayfest festival director Andy Arnold  "Alan Bissett premieres a new work-in-progress posing the question: is Scotland the colonised or the coloniser?

A police interview room. A table. Two coffees. Jock has been huckled for a crime he says he didn't commit: theft from other countries. He has been spotted a the scene but was he manipulated by his bosses? Was he there out of need? Or is Jock, as he claims, the victim of imperialism himself?"

This play challenges the accepted official narrative that Scotland was the first victim of English colonisation and empire-building with the increasingly disconcerting and academically credible emerging one that Scottish input was the main component which made the British Empire the "success" by providing  a steady stream of Administrators , Managers , Soldiers , Architects of Imperial Policy , Missionaries and Technicians far greater than the proportion of population of Scots in the United Kingdom.

Tom Devine , Adam Smith and Henderson all make appearances for and against the prosecution in a trial with balances both the victimhood and willing collaborator arguments of Scotlands role in the Empire in a compelling play which gives convincing arguments for both sides of the story , but the theme of ending the Union as being the only way for Scotland to Atone and make Amends and rectify its role in the World in the last Three Centuries does come out as the best way forward into the 21st Century for not only Scotland but also for the large part of the World on which Scotlands story was stages.  

Here is Alan Bissett contributing to the Independence debate in his native Falkirk.

And finally an excellent poem by him called "Vote Britain" which captures the state of fear from the vote No camp.

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