Black Watch: genre

Black Watch: genre

Genre of Black Watch

As a Documentary Drama

  • Black Watch is a piece of documentary drama; this genre primarily presents facts and actual events in a theatrical context.
  • It relies on first-person accounts, interviews and historical records to bring real events or stories to the stage.
  • When studying Black Watch, it is pivotal to understand the real-life basis of the play; it is based on interviews conducted with soldiers who served in the Black Watch regiment in Iraq.
  • This means that it intertwines factual content with artistic interpretation; the events are real, but they are portrayed in a dramatic style to engage the audience.

Its Political Nature

  • Black Watch is a strongly political piece of theatre and could also be considered as political theatre.
  • It engages with the Iraq war and the controversial role of the UK in that conflict.
  • It presents a range of perspectives and opinions on these topics by putting the soldiers’ voices to the fore and showing their experiences in unrelenting detail.
  • Its political nature becomes evident in the way it handles themes such as nationalism, sacrifice, and the purpose (or futility) of the war.

Use of Verbatim Theatre Techniques

  • Also, Black Watch features elements of verbatim theatre, a sub-genre of documentary drama.
  • Scenes have been created from soldiers’ testimonies, resulting in dialogue that incorporates the soldiers’ own words, often verbatim.
  • This type of theatre aims to give voice to people who are often deprived of the chance to express themselves – here, the foot soldiers of the Black Watch Regiment - and it relies heavily on the credibility that comes from using people’s actual words.
  • Note how the use of verbatim techniques adds authenticity to the drama, brings historical events alive and fosters empathy in the audience.

As Physical Theatre

  • An important aspect of Black Watch genre is its label as physical theatre. This means it emphatically uses physical expression as a significant facet of storytelling.
  • Instead of relying entirely on text, the production makes extensive use of movement, space, gesture, dance, and physical action.
  • For example, the choreographed fight sequences, the changing room scene or the letter reading scene communicate emotional depth and narrative progression as much as any spoken dialogue.
  • This approach to storytelling offers an alternative to text-heavy plays and enhances the audience’s sensory experience.

As Site-Specific and Immersive Theatre

  • Black Watch can also be seen as site-specific and immersive theatre, as it often breaks the divide between the audience and performers.
  • The original production took place in a drill hall, reiterating the concept of locale and its influence on the soldiers. Future productions tend to simulate the essence of the original location.
  • The staging often extends into the audience seating area, placing the audience in the midst of the action and breaking through the fourth wall.
  • This blurring of boundaries between the audience and actors pulls the audience directly into the action, resulting in a more engaging and emotionally intense theatre experience.