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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

Testament of Cresseid playing

3rd June 2019

Robert Henryson is probably not a name that the vast majority of Scots are familiar with, but he certainly deserves to be remembered as one of the outstanding European writers of his day. Born about 1436 Robert Henryson was a highly educated man – a lawyer, notary public, and schoolmaster of Dunfermline. He was also a makar, the term in Scots for a master poet.

It was in this capacity that Henryson composed The Testament of Cresseid around 1490 which takes as its theme the Classical Greek story of Troylus and Cressida of Trojan War fame. The poem describes how Cressida (Cresseid in Scots) insulted the Greek gods and was punished by them. Henryson introduces his audience to the tragedy with this verse:

Ane doolie sessoun to ane cairfull dyte

Suld correspond, and be equivalent.

Richt sa it wes quhen I began to wryte

This Tragedie, the wedder richt fervent,

Quhen Aries, in middis of the Lent,

Schouris of haill can fra the north discend,

That scantlie fra the cauld I micht defend.

Now Dr Jamie Reid Baxter, together with Ian Low, has produced a performance version of the poem through The Joot Theatre Company. Taking the original version Baxter has updated some of the Older Scots language and replaced it with Modern Scots and changes the third-person to first-person with himself playing the narrator. Dr Baxter commented that “this is a wark o warld stature – it suld be as familiar til aa Scots as Shakespeare’s Hamlet.”

The Testament of Cresseid will be playing from 7.30pm on Friday 7 and Saturday 8 June at the Drama Studio, Dalhousie Building, 75 Old Hawkhill Road, Dundee. Tickets are £7.00 or £5 concession and may be bought either at the door or by way of email by contacting .