A sell-out hit at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the National Theatre of Scotland’s first big hit, the critically acclaimed Black Watch, will receive its long-awaited London transfer next summer, running at the Barbican Centre from 20 June to 26 July 2008 as part of BITE 08 (Barbican International Theatre Events).

The large-scale, site-specific production – originally staged in a drill hall in Edinburgh – was previously scheduled for its London premiere this past spring/summer. NTS and the Barbican hoped to temporarily reclaim a non-traditional performance space for it in east London but ran into problems with planning permission and were forced to cancel (See News, 17 Apr 2007). For the newly announced run, the play will be staged at the Barbican itself, with the 1,160-seat main auditorium specifically reconfigured to accommodate it.

Hurtling from a pool room in Fife to an armoured wagon in Iraq, Black Watch is based on interviews conducted by playwright Gregory Burke with former soldiers who served in Iraq. Viewed through the eyes of those on the ground, Black Watch reveals what it means to be part of the legendary Scottish regiment, what it means to be part of the ‘war on terror’ and what it means to make the journey home again.

The new dates at the Barbican are part of a larger NTS world tour, which also sees the production travel to Los Angeles next month and New York in October 2007, as well as Australia and New Zealand next year in addition to the London premiere. Black Watch has won a number of awards including a South Bank Show Theatre Award, a Scotsman Fringe First, and a Critics’ Circle Award (Best Director), as well as being nominated for Best Regional Production in the Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards.

The production is directed by John Tiffany and designed by Laura Hopkins, with sound by Gareth Fry, lighting by Colin Grenfell and costumes by Jessica Brettle. The London cast has yet to be confirmed.

A documentary about Black Watch will be broadcast on BBC Two Scotland at 9.00pm on 26 August 2007 as part of the corporation’s ArtsWorks Scotland programmes. This is accompanied by a filmed performance aired on the same channel on 27 August from 10 to 11.30pm.

- by Tom Atkins