Black Watch @ National Theatre of Scotland
By Niall Black
Black Watch, one the National Theatre of Scotland’s site-specific work, was originally created for the Edinburgh fringe Festival in 2006. It was conceived to explore the stories surrounding the Black Watch regiment in Scotland, which was facing closure following a 300-year history whilst facing active service in the Iraq war. The show, intended to complement the Edinburgh Tattoo, which takes place every year at the Edinburgh Castle, was performed in a Victorian military Drill Hall in Edinburgh at the same time and with a similar seating arrangement as the Edinburgh Tattoo. The show was a massive success with the audience and critics and as a result was toured around Scotland in the spring of 2007. The show also visited Los Angeles and New York in the autumn of 2007, in response to a solid international desire to see the show.
Even though the production was initially constrained in terms of location due to an artistic desire to recreate the same atmosphere as in the original production, the Spring tour revealed that the location was not as important as initially conceived, leading to the work visiting a huge variety of locations in 2008. The scale of the show meant that touring the production was a significant undertaking for both the National Theatre of Scotland and a local producer. Central to performing the piece was the sourcing of a suitable venue, including the required lights, power, sound, seating, rigging, and audience facilities. The equipment toured was kept to a maximum single shipping container, and everything else needed was sourced locally. However, at some point it was necessary to develop two sets to circulate concurrently to enable the work to tour globally in a given time-frame, meaning that a small number of props and costume had to be inevitably freighted.