Knox Academy Drama Department Higher Drama - Contemporary Scottish Theatre The Women of Lockerbie By Deborah Brevoort Plot

A mother from New Jersey roams the hills of Lockerbie, looking for her son’s remains which were lost in the crash of Pan Am 103. She meets the Women of Lockerbie, who are fighting the US Government to obtain the clothing of the victims found in the plane’s wreckage. The women, determined to convert an act of hatred into an act of love, want to wash the clothes of the dead and return them to the victim’s families. The Women of Lockerbie is loosely inspired by a true story, although the characters and situations in the play are purely fictional. Written in the structure of a Greek tragedy, it is a poetic drama about the triumph of love over hate. Characters • • • • • • MADELINE LIVINGSTON: A suburban housewife from New Jersey. Her 20-year old son Adam was killed 7 years ago in the Pan Am 103 crash over Lockerbie. BILL LIVINGSTON: Her husband, father of Adam. OLIVE ALLISON: An older woman, from Lockerbie. Leader of the laundry project. WOMAN 1 & 2: Middle-aged women from Lockerbie. HATTIE: A cleaning woman. From Lockerbie. GEORGE JONES: The American government representative in charge of the warehouse storing the remains from the Pan Am 103 crash.

Other Information • • • • The play was written by an American playwright who thoroughly researched the topic before writing the play. The play had it’s British Premier at the Orangetree Theatre in 2005. It had its Scottish Premier in June 2006 at the Theatre Royal, Dumfries. The play has won critical acclaim and won over six awards.

John Naples-Campbell Jun 2007

Knox Academy Drama Department

Social, Political and Religious Issues • • You must remember when reading this play that even though it is fictional it is based on true events. The Lockerbie crash was a terrorist attack and this play deals with the impact of a terrorist attack so therefore is relevant to the time in which we are living in now. Post 9/11 we have seen an influx of plays that have dealt with politics, this is because playwrights are affected by situations that they are living through. This play was writing pre 9/11 however it captures the hearts of a country torn after a terror attack. The play is highly political in the way it plays the government and the women off against each other. The government are playing by the rules, doing what they feel is right however the women are playing by their hearts and need closure from the whole situation. The people of Britain stood up against the government during the Iraq war by marching throughout the country to show they were not happy with the ‘rules’ laid down to them. The women are doing exactly the same, standing up for what they believe in. The character of Madeline is in turmoil as her son has died in the crash, however, she has no body to bury. The religious belief of burial means that the soul is laid to rest. The whole play is based around Madeline coming to terms that there is no body. Like Antigone, Madeline believes she will have closure if she has a body to bury and/or visit. This simple religious right has been taken away from her, leaving her angry and confused. In an interesting twist the play deals with the way society feels, especially Americans, after 9/11. It looks at how a community grieves and deals with the aftermath of a disaster. The social responsibility of the women to wash the clothes, to return them to the victims families and to gain closure from the whole experience is clear from the outset, but does the play end too ‘Americanised’? Although a terrorist attack on an American plane it had a huge impact on Scotland, the biggest terror attack to happen on Scottish soil in history and had huge implications on Scotland as the criminal is serving life in a Scottish prison.

John Naples-Campbell Jun 2007

Knox Academy Drama Department

Use of History, Nostalgia and Popular Tradition • • • • • The play is based on the plane crash, which happened over Lockerbie in 1988. The character of Olive is based on the person who formed the laundry project, Moria Shearer. Madeline lives in the past, she cannot let go of the fact her son has died. Is this because there is no body? The relationship between Madeline and Bill is strained due to her nostalgic grasp on the past. The playwright has used a Greek form to write the play and the convention of a chorus to represent the women; this has been used more and more with theatre company Theatre Babel and playwright Liz Lochhead. Bill finds a ticket to a ball game in his coat pocket, which in turns brings back memories of his son. Bill seems to have fond memories of his son but Madeline seems to live with regret, why is this? The play is set on the 7th anniversary of the plane crash, why 7 years? Olive reveals the details of her family tragedy in an outburst. Scottish people are known for dealing with their grief in a private way, was she triggered by Madeline’s American way of dealing with grief? Why does the playwright make the women go over the nights events in several choral odes?

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Use of Gender • • Why are there only two males characters in the play? What impact does this have on the women? Women, in general, are far more open about their grief than men. How do we know this from the playwrights writing?

John Naples-Campbell Jun 2007

Knox Academy Drama Department • • • How are the two central female characters different? How are the two central female characters similar? What impact does it have on making the chorus all female? It is interesting to note that George has a huge impact on the women, he won’t let them deal with their grief. Does he understand? The use of the male hierarchy in this play is interesting as both male characters stop the females from gaining their objectives. Hattie is used as a messenger between the women and George Jones. She creates a ditzy stereotypical female role but this is a façade as she is quite sneaky. The women at the end come together to create a unified ending. Their differences are put to one side. The two male characters show emotion by the end of the play; George Jones gives in to the pleas of the women and once the suitcase is returned it is not Madeline who breaks down but her husband Bill. Bill has clearly bottled up his emotion and this is a turning point for his dealing of his sons death. The central characters (Madeline, Bill, Olive and George) all state in monologues their side to the story, both males are very matter of fact; George is following the law, Bill takes the Christmas presents back etc. The women understand more the reactions from each other rather than the way the men act. Being a female playwright what impact does this have on the female and male characters? Would the play been emotionally different if written by a male playwright?

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Characterisation Olive Country Housewife Widow Daughter (dead) Blames Americans Other • Although an American playwright writes this what makes this Scottish? Madeline Suburban Housewife Married (although very distant from her husband) Son (dead) Blames Everyone

John Naples-Campbell Jun 2007

Knox Academy Drama Department

John Naples-Campbell Jun 2007