The Interlude, which was performed in the Great Hall in Linlithgow – the same hall in which the original play was performed in 1540 – is the result of some textual and historical detective work by Professor Greg Walker and Dr Ellie Rycroft from the project team, and some artful re-creative dramaturgy by the Director, Gregory Thompson.
The original script of what was performed in 1540 is lost, but two descriptions of the performance survive in a package of letters sent to Henry VIII’s chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, by the Captain of Berwick Castle, Sir William Eure. Walker and Rycroft compared these descriptions with the texts of the surviving versions of the Three Estates performed in Cupar, Fife in 1552, and on the Greenside in Edinburgh in 1554, and discovered a quite striking degree of overlap between the three plays, sufficient, we feel, to demonstrate conclusively that the Interlude was written by Lyndsay and was an early form of the play later named A Satire of the Three Estates.
The Interlude as filmed here represents the results of our research, setting the descriptions of the play alongside lines from the 1552 text to show just how many of the same themes, political issues, and even dramatic tropes and routines, are shared by the earlier and later versions. Having first wondered about fleshing out those pieces of the description with passages from other works by Lyndsay and his contemporaries, we opted in the end for purity, using only those passages that appear in the 1552 and 1554 versions of the Satire. The result is, we think, striking, suggesting just how much of the Interlude text resurfaced, often in seemingly very similar form, in the later play.
Rather than simply set the two texts together and allow them to speak for themselves, however, we have turned the Interlude into a performance about the research process, staging an imaginary encounter between all the various interested parties (Sir William Eure, his informant Thomas Bellenden, Lyndsay himself, and the spirit of the play, Sandy Solace) which describes, not too seriously, how the Interlude has emerged, and what happened on that fateful winter evening so long ago in Linlithgow. The additional modern lines are the work of Gregory Thompson, with a little help from Greg Walker.