Theatre production draws parallels from Piper Alpha to explore the Climate Emergency

Former oil worker, climate activist and local artist, John Bolland premieres his multimedia theatre production Pibroch on Saturday, January 15 at Glenbuchat Hall, 7.30pm.

By Dawn Renton
Wednesday, 12th January 2022, 8:17 am
Updated Wednesday, 12th January 2022, 8:17 am
The production explores the parallels between our current Climate Emergency and the Piper Alpha disaster.

The production explores the parallels between our current Climate Emergency and the Piper Alpha disaster of 1988. It links the personal and social experiences of Piper Alpha survivors with the challenges each of us face in a warming world.

Based on first-hand experience, detailed research into the Piper Alpha disaster and analysis of a wide range of sources on Climate Change, Pibroch is based around the pibroch ‘Lament for the Children’ by Padraig Mor McCrimmon, highlighting the direct Scottish links of Piper, piping and pibroch, with grief for our children.

As in the original pibroch, the performance will develop in four movements: Urlar, Dithis, Suibhal and Taorluth.

In each movement the motif is developed as the text shifts from the specifics of the Piper Alpha disaster to the general experience of Climate Emergency as it is now and as it will play-out globally in the course of the 21st century.

Pibroch aims to inform, challenge and encourage discussion and reflection through presenting a history of the Piper Alpha disaster from a range of perspectives.

The work examines how language can be used to obfuscate or inform, the tensions between personal agency and collective action, mitigation and adaptation, moral and technical responses to existential challenges.

The performance is funded through Creative Scotland and The National Lottery Fund and will be followed by an open discussion for interested members of the audience on the themes and issues raised.

Co-directed by Mark Thomson, former Artistic Director at the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh, Pibroch is supported by critically acclaimed piper, saxophonist and low whistle musician Fraser Fifield, alongside an outstanding team of North East theatre professionals including film and visual artist Graeme Roger and lighting designer and production manager Simon Gane.

John Bolland, writer, performer and co-director said: “During the climate actions of 2018 and 2019, I became very aware of the dissonance between the necessary demands of the climate activists and the lived experience of producers and consumers associated with the fossil fuel industries.

"We are all deeply complicit in the emergency unfolding over the next few decades and yet many of us, especially in the North East of Scotland and including myself, have relied on these energy sources to earn a wage and put food on the table.

"Having been actively involved in the oil & gas industry’s response to the Piper Alpha disaster in the North Sea and internationally, I was acutely aware of the parallels.

"How do you respond when you find yourself on a burning platform – as the Earth currently is?”

John is being supported in this production by Open Road, a North East based company dedicated to developing and mentoring creative talent in the region.

You can buy tickets visit

Tickets cost £13 (*under-16s free).

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