Black Watch: sub-text

Black Watch: sub-text

Sub-text in Black Watch

  • Sub-text refers to the underlying ideas or messages that are not explicitly stated but can be inferred from the dialogue, actions or symbols.
  • The use of sub-text in Black Watch is effective in conveying the emotional undertones and unspoken tensions of the characters.

Sub-text through Dialogue

  • Much of the sub-text in Black Watch is communicated through dialogue.
  • The soldiers’ often crude and jocular language masks their fear, vulnerability, and confusion about their role in the war.
  • The contrast between their vivid and gritty descriptions of war and their reticence about their own feelings uncovers the psychological impacts of their experiences.

Sub-text through Stage Directions

  • Stage directions in Black Watch also serve to suggest the sub-text.
  • Stage directions, like soldiers cleaning their guns or smoking nervously, indicate their underlying anxiety and restlessness.
  • The stage direction of the soldiers forming a ‘firing squad’ at the end of the play subtly implies their common struggle against an invisible enemy and their united front.

Sub-text through Light and Sound

  • The use of lighting and sound cues can also hint at the sub-text in Black Watch.
  • An abrupt shift in lighting or sound can symbolise a change in mood, an unexpressed thought, or an impending threat.
  • The rhythmic sounds of the regimental drumbeat, for instance, evoke a sense of discipline and rigidity but also carry undertones of menace and warning.

Sub-text through Symbolism

  • The play uses symbolism to reveal sub-text.
  • Objects such as the Black Watch tartan, which is a symbol of Scottish national pride, and the flak jacket, which represents the weight of responsibility and danger, convey deeper meanings.
  • The offloading of the flak jacket to Cammy symbolises the passing on of the burdens experienced in warfare.