The 3 Estaites is - by common consent - Scotland's greatest play. First performed in Cupar, Fife in June 1552, it is the earliest Scottish play to have survived. Full of broad humour and pantomime-like farce, it also deals with dangerous topical issues, hitting out at corruption and hypocrisy in the ruling establishment, denouncing the oppression of the poor and calling for social "reformation". A young king is rescued from idle sexual dalliance and false counsels by Divine Correction and they preside over a Parliament summoned to enact just laws, where basic Christian tenets and values are affirmed - but Folly has the last word. In 2000 The 3 Estaites gained a fresh resonance when it celebrated both the Millennium and the rebirth of Scotland's Parliament by returning to Cupar for the first time in nearly four and a half centuries. This contemporary Scots version by the leading poet and playwright Alan Spence retains the structure and spirit of Lindsay's script while giving his language a new lease of life. The play's topical allusions have been updated brilliantly, but Lindsay's generous spirit and enormous sense of fun have been preserved.
This is a national drama, expressing a comprehensive perspective of what Scotland is and what it might be - a land of justice, fellow-feeling and laughter.
Alan Spence is one of Scotland's leading poets and playwrights. His publications include Glasgow Zen (2002), Seasons of the Heart (2000), Stone Garden (1997), The Magic Flute (1997) and Its Colours They Are Fine (1996). Angus Calder is an academic writer, historian and literary editor.