Folk Drama for Burns Night: Tam’s Mare Meg

“A blethering, blustering, drunken blellum;
That frae November till October,
Ae market-day thou was na sober;
That ilka melder wi’ the Miller,
Thou sat as lang as thou had siller;
That every nag was ca’d a shoe on,
The Smith and thee gat roarin’ fou on;
That at the Lord’s house, ev’n on Sunday,
Thou drank wi’ Kirkton Jean till Monday.”

History, music and the traditions that make Scotland unique have been the focus of TRACS Winter Warmers events, concluding with the third interactive Folk Drama: Play in a Day performance on Saturday 21 January which takes Burns’ most mighty of tales as its subject matter.

Tam o’ Shanter is an old Scottish legend that was later turned into a narrative poem by Robert Burns. Burns uses this legend as a basis to craft a wonderful poem about Tam who never takes the advice of his wife Kate. He stays out at all hours drinking, until one night poor Tam has to flee for his life from witches, gathered to dance to the devil’s bagpipes.

Donald Smith’s reworking of the poem for use in the folk drama sees the focus being placed on Tam’s faithful horse, with the title Tam’s Mare Meg. There are other animal characters – Tam’s dog Luath and sheep Mailie, and room for some moosies and burdies too depending on numbers of participants – and of course, the crucial role of the witches will need to be filled by those who can give a good screech!

Speaking about the day, Smith says:

Everybody thinks they know about Burns, but we don’t really. He’s a much richer, broader topic and exploring the themes of Burns with this folk drama will showcase the genius of Scotland’s Bard as well as inform participants in the subtleties of this classic folk tale: by being in it sometimes we can understand it better.

Burns was living at a time of vastly changing social structure in Scotland and one of Burns’ great traumas and difficulties as an artist and writer is that he was a radical – socially, politically and culturally – in a very conservative society, which is reflected in all his work.

After two successful folk drama days – Galoshins for St Andrew’s Day, and The Burdies for Hogmanay, come along to this final opportunity to get involved in an inclusive and fun day of exploring a classic piece of Scottish literature!

Tam’s Mare Meg – Folk Drama Play in a Day, Saturday 21 January, 10.30am (4hrs 30)