MARK Brown has now expressed his critical disdain of the National Theatre of Scotland’s production of Thrown no fewer than three times in different articles for The National. In his first article (I was Thrown by the National Theatre of Scotland production,, Jul 8), he even went so far as to suggest that had Thrown been staged 2500 years ago it might have prevented the development of the theatrical art form as we know it, which is, one has to admit, a hyperbolic level of criticism to lay against a new play by a debut writer.

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We welcome robust criticism, but on this occasion we thought, as the proud producers of Nat McCleary’s first play, readers of The National might be interested to know that, despite Mark Brown’s strongly held personal opinions about the worthiness of this young female playwright’s play, Thrown was a huge success. It garnered acclaim and positivity from a large number of critics, many of whom reached for four and five stars and celebrated this debut. Thrown evidently had popular appeal too, playing to more than 3000 people across its sold-out run in the Scottish Highlands and at the Edinburgh International Festival. These were hugely enthusiastic audiences who welcomed the opportunity to experience a unique story, thrillingly told, about identity in contemporary Scotland, written from the deeply personal perspective of the writer, informed by their lived experience.

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Here is a sample of some of the praise from other journalists: “What an absolute treat to see Nat McCleary’s Thrown, which reassured me of theatre’s capacity to ask complex and uncomfortable questions about all kinds of identity” (The Guardian), “impressively brave” (The Scotsman), “a stunning, gripping play about the complexities of identity and place” (Time Out), and “A punchy and perceptive debut about Scottish identity (The Stage).

The tour and Edinburgh International Festival run are now over but a special filmed recording of the production will be made freely available to schools, pupils and educators later in the year.

Jackie Wylie (Artistic Director, National Theatre of Scotland), Brenna Hobson (Executive Director, National Theatre of Scotland)

Mark Brown responds: I welcome this letter from the NTS leadership, which is fair comment. In any case, those who dish out criticism have to be prepared to take it. Jackie and Brenna make the point that I have now commented on Nat McCleary’s play Thrown three times on the pages of the Sunday National. That is entirely true. However, as readers of my opinion column on Sunday will know, my most recent comments on the play were in the context of a much broader argument about the so-called “culture wars”, identity politics and the arts. That, I believe, was also fair comment.


SO there is an ongoing stooshie about the King’s new portrait being displayed hither and thither. Republican as I am, I’d have to say, let them go ahead. Further than that, display it on screen at the end of films in all public cinemas as they used to do in times gone by.

Why? Because in times gone by there was an American singer who told/sang the Hans Christian Andersen tale of the King’s New Clothes. In the story, a pair of con-men sold the king a magical suit.

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The trick was that the suit was invisible to all but the intelligent and wise. And thus the king was induced to walk stark naked in front of his adoring, credulous suppliants. Until that is, a child cried out, “Look at the King, look at the King! The King is in his altogether”. And thus the spell of mass collusion was broken.

I invite you to look at the portraits of King Charles at his coronation wearing a crown and robe, to slew off your history, the perspective of being a British subject. I invite you to look through the eyes of a child, or a modern, civilised, educated citizen.

I tried this on all of my French and Catalan friends. One and all they burst into spontaneous laughter. Do not hide this spectacle away. Show it at every opportunity for what it is and what it represents.

“Isn’t it grand! Isn’t it fine! Look at the cut, the style, the line! The suit of clothes is all together. But all together it’s all together, the most remarkable suit of clothes.”

Lewis Waugh

WILL the Scottish Government’s reply to Oliver Dowden’s request for an “exhaustive list” of appropriate public buildings for the King’s portrait include all our public toilets?

M Ross

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I NOTE your headline on the UK Government’s plan to issue portraits of King Charles III to schools. Just one question. Will pupils have to provide their own darts? Or will they be issued to them by the government?

Drew Reid

ANENT the Ministry of Propaganda’s latest decision to hang Big Ears’s photie in our schools; hingin’s too good for him.

Donald Anderson