It’s “bin” a while since his last play but Dundee writer Gary Robertson is hoping to clean up with his latest production.
The Scaffies, which will debut at the Rep next year, is set in Dundee in 1978 and follows a squad of binmen in the run-up to the Winter of Discontent.
Gary, whose last play The Berries enjoyed a sell-out run at the Rep last year, was inspired to write the new comedy by his real-life day job working “on the bins”.
He said: “Once I started working with the scaffies myself, I thought it was a rich source of material there, hearing all the old stories.
“I tried to capture the flavour of the hardship and filth of the job, and how they got though their days in the 1970s with the serious banter and laughter and the hard-drinking culture that used to exist then.”
Gary, who even wrote some of the scenes on his breaks, is coy about whether any of the characters are based on his workmates in the cab.
He said: “Let’s just say, I’ve taken bits and pieces from a variety of characters. The wealth of stories from the old days is unbelievable, some I couldn’t use.
“It’s set in 1978 to keep everybody safe and out of the way. The place is still full of characters, but some of the guys you hear about from the old days are just mental.
“The guys are quite excited to see what I’ve come up with.”
The play revolves around the staff canteen, the Dundee streets, the local pub and the bin lorry itself and Gary hopes it will capture “another bit of culture long gone”.
He said: “It leads up to the Winter of Discontent when times were hard politically and socially with the strikes and everything that was going on.
“But it’s a comedy play about a squad of binmen and their daily goings-on to get through the hardships of the job.”
Gary took an appropriately old-school approach by writing the play longhand on notepads.
He said: “Victoria at the Rep couldn’t believe that in this day and age I wrote longhand.”
Rehearsals are under way for the play which will run for four nights at the Rep from April 29.
Gary said: “We’ve started doing the read throughs and then we’ll start setting it. I think it’s even funnier than The Berries.
“When you bring it alive from the page and once it gets acted it’s great and hopefully that carries across to the audience.
“I got the bug when I did the wee part in The Berries, so I’m going to tread the boards again.
“The Berries was written in 2006 and it was a couple of years before it went to the stage and before that I wrote a gang play that never saw the light of day.”