Plays by Sue Glover


Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In Scotland during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, male farm labourers who hired on to work on farms would be required under the terms of their bond to provide a female labourer to work in tandem with them: the women who worked under these terms – primarily in the Border countryside in south-east Scotland – were known as Bondagers.

Sue Glover's play from 1991, set on a typical farm in the 1860s, tells the story of Tottie, a Bondager girl, who falls in love with a 'black-eyed plooman' named Kello, an unseen presence who haunts the fringes of this play.

In her author's note, Glover writes: '[ . . . ] periods of plenty and progress are relentlessly interrupted by leaner, harsher times: bad weather, bad harvests, bad government, disease . . . and the sometimes unfortunate, sometimes devastating consequences of our innovations and discoveries. And so the ghosts in the field come and go. Tottie sees this; she stands for the land. And Kello stands for our (sometimes criminal) carelessness.'

Bondagers, which won the 1990 LWT Plays on Stage Award, draws out the shadowy figures of women exploited as cheap agricultural labour in the Border country of the mid-nineteenth century, evoking the rich sounds of a way of life, lived in service to the gentry.

The Straw Chair

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Set in the first half of the eighteenth century, The Straw Chair by Sue Glover tells the story of seventeen-year-old Isabel and her minister husband's arrival on the remote island of Hirta, also known as Saint Kilda. Their encounter with the island's inhabitants, and especially the disturbing Rachel of Grange, changes their lives forever.

A real historical figure, Rachel of Grange was involved in a bitter divorce; her actions led to her erstwhile husband being successfully tried for treason. He, in turn, had her kidnapped and incarcerated on various remote Scottish islands. The Straw Chair is set during one such incarceration, on Hirta.

The Straw Chair was described by Scotland on Sunday as 'A beguiling combination of things, starting with the incredible story of Lady Grange, banished by her husband to the remoteness of St Kilda. Hung around this framework is an evocation, as light and sharp as spindrift, of the strange life on the island.'

The Straw Chair was first produced in Edinburgh, in 1988, in a co-production by the Traverse Theatre and Focus Theatre.

Sue Glover was born in Edinburgh and lives in Northeast Fife. She writes for radio, television and theatre. Theatre work includes The Seal Wife, The Bubble Boy, The Straw Chair and Sacred Hearts. The Bubble Boy was staged during Glasgow Tron Theatre's opening season, and later televised, winning prizes at both the New York Film and Television Festival and the Chicago International Festival. The Straw Chair opened the Traverse Theatre's 25th Anniversary season. Bondagers won first prize in London Weekend Television's Plays on Stage Awards in 1990. She was recently made a fellow of the Association for Scottish Literary Studies.