Interview: David MacLennan on The Great Yes, No, Don't Know, Five Minute Theatre Show
The groundbreaking theatre-maker, now sadly deceased, on one of his final projects
David MacLennan, co-curator of the National Theatre of Scotland's latest Five Minute Theatre broadcast, was a major force in Scottish theatre since the 1970s to his death this morning, having founded the landmark 7:84 theatre company and developed the revolutionary A Play, A Pie and A Pint programme at Òran Mór. He died following an open and public battle with motor neurone disease - here, he discusses one of his final projects, The Great Yes, No, Don't Know Five Minute Theatre Show, which fits in with the major themes of his groundbreaking career.
Five Minute Theatre curates a range of shows and broadcasts them for an entire day. How did you cope with the submissions?
The real credit belongs to staff at NTS. Their experience in doing this type of work has been invaluable.
Did you get many submissions?
The subject of the work is so important and topical that it unleashed a tremendous response from the public and the profession. It was really a question of light the blue touch paper and await the explosion!
Is there a particular answer to the question of the referendum that comes through the productions?
It's very much about diversity of opinion and indeed many of the pieces could be described as the 'undecided.' Political theatre is much more telling when it asks intelligent questions than when it pronounces simple solutions. There was really no temptation to shape an answer from the material because the richness lies in the variety and diversity of thinking.
Is political theatre on the rise in Scotland?
Political theatre is a popular art form in Scotland and these new writers are carrying on the tradition of companies like 7:84 and Wildcat: there is a whole new generation of politically engaged playwrights emerging.
And is this a good thing?
I have been lucky to have worked with many of them at Òran Mór in A Play, A Pie and A Pint. I feel immensely heartened that not only do these writers care passionately about the kind of society we live in but they also write with great skill and craft.
Watch online at fiveminutetheatre.com from 5pm, Mon 23 Jun.