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Lewis actor Dolina MacLennan will be the special guest at a 50th anniversary showing of The Play for Today: The Cheviot, the Stag, and the Black Black Oil.

Dolina will appear at Dornie Hall on Saturday, June 15, to celebrate John McGrath’s iconic work staged by the 7:84 theatre company.

Dolina from Marvig appeared in both the stage play and the TV adaptation directed by John Mackenzie, which first aired on June 6, 1974.

The production included live stage play performances, filmed reconstructions of documented events in the Highland Clearances, darkly humorous songs and sketches, and interviews with those participating and affected by the North Sea Oil industry in 1974.

The multi-talented and highly respected singer, writer, broadcaster and activist was part of the 7:84 Company. Her role was listed as “Singer”. Half a century on, the play still resonates with Scottish politics and is seen as a milestone in Scottish theatre.

The Cheviot, the Stag, and the Black Black Oil is a musical drama about the historical exploitation of the Highlands. It recounts the history of economic change within the Scottish Highlands from 1746 to 1973.

The play opens in the aftermath of the Jacobite uprisings and traces the fortunes of the Highlands from the Clearances to the advent of the North Sea oil industry. It uses comedic sketches, song, dance, and dramatic reconstructions threaded with facts and statistics to form a complex and emotive Highlands history.

The play is known for its innovative style, using Gaelic in direct contrast with the Standard English of the ruling classes. It also uses readings from factual sources to shape the narrative. The play features a cast of historical and fictional characters, with the Highland folk portrayed in a generally positive light, in contrast to the greedy, ignorant characters who exploit them.

Since appearing in the seminal piece of Scottish theatre, Dolina, now 86, has been a regular on TV screens. Among her credits are “The Queen” (2006), “Murder Rooms: Mysteries of the Real Sherlock Holmes” (2000), and “An Ceasnachadh” (2000). She also appeared in the groundbreaking Gaelic soap opera Machair in the 1990s.

More recently, she was on board as part of the cast of the Metagama - An Atlantic Odyssey, the musical drama collaboration between Lewis author Donald S Murray and folk singer Liz Mulholland.

Dolina first came to prominence as one of the Edinburgh folk scene stalwarts in the 1960s. She first encountered drama and the great Gaelic bàrds at the Nicolson Institute.

She was recognised for her contribution to Scottish life and culture with the Saltire Society’s Fletcher of Saltoun Award in 2012. In 2016, she was awarded the Services to Gaelic award as part of the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame, as well as an honorary doctorate from Edinburgh University.


Main image credit: An Lanntair