Document 582

Queen Mary, Puir Quine

Author(s): Wendy de Rusett

Copyright holder(s): Wendy de Rusett


Note: The actors should follow the readers, telling the story together. The six groups can pair off reading for each other in turn, slowly, loudly and expressively. Strong mime is essential. A tape with music of the period should be made. Ideas for this are given below.

Scenes 1 & 2
Group 1 Mime
Group 2 Read
James V & Mary of Guise marry. The King receives two pieces of bad news then dies. The baby Mary is crowned.

Group 2 Mime
Group 1 Read
Mary and 4 companions, about 7 years old sail to France. Their Governess gives them work but they go out to play.

Play the tape, but fade it as the Narrator starts, then increase volume between the two paragraphs. James V and Mary of Guise walk down the aisle (centre) then separate. The Queen is helped to lie down by her Lady in Waiting. The servant brings on a chair, helps the King to sit down, then serves him wine. The Messenger on horse brings the news of defeat. The King rises in distress staggers, then is helped into his bed, sitting up in bed. The Lady in Waiting shows the baby to the smiling Queen then takes it to King who is angry, turns over and dies. The Servant prays by his bedside, joined by the Queen. Other side of stage, the Lady in Waiting holds the baby, joined by the Queen as the Minister comes on slowly, holds a crown above the baby’s head then hands it to the Queen.

James V, King of Scotland merriet a French noblewoman, Mary o Guise. They were tae be the parents o Mary Queen o Scots. Ae dreich December day in the year fifteen hunner an forty twa, the King wisna weel at aa. A messenger brocht him the news of his airmy’s defeat at the Battle o Solway Moss. This gart him tak til his bed. Seen aifter that, the Queen’s lady in waitin tellt him his wife hid gien birth tae a quine. Broken herted, he turnt tae the waa an deet.

The peer wee bairn Mary became Queen o the Scots in the first week o her life, an wis croont fan she wis only nine month aal. Her mither ruled in her place, an Mary wis brocht up at Stirlin Castle, the happiest years o her life.

The girls line up with Mary in the middle. The Lady in Waiting fusses over their appearance. The Governess gives out embroidery, instructs them to work hard then leaves the room with the Lady. Mary leads the mischief as they sneak out to the garden, play “Ring a Roses”, then have a mud fight. The adults rush out, dragging two girls each back, line them up and scold them. The girls pretend to look ashamed, but are obviously giggling.

Fan Mary wis sax or seiven year aal, she wis taen tae France, for safety, alang wi fower ither noble quines, aa cried Mary. Although they were noble, they liked tae caper jist like ony ither bairns.

Scenes 3 & 4
Group 3 Mime
Group 4 Read
Mary marries Francis. Courtly dance. Francis dies, Mary and 4 companions return to Scotland.

Group 4 Mime
Group 3 Read
Mary marries Lord Darnley but prefers the company of Riccio whom Darnley and an accomplice murder.


Mary & Francis approach each other, then walk down the centre side by side, followed by the 4 Marys who dance. Other courtiers could join the dance to give the impression of a wedding.

Courtly Dance **Form a circle with hands raised elbows almost touching, pace 8 steps to right then 8 to left, bobbing down slightly with each step.Take small steps in for 8 and small steps out for 8. Then “men” turn their partners under one arm for 4 steps then form W-shape hold in front to form a promenade for 12 steps. Bridal couple form an arch, others go through, extending the arch, for 16, then reform starting circle, small steps in and out again, and disband.

Then Francis comes forward alone showing grief at this father’s death, then dies himself. Mary stands apart showing grief, comforted by Mary Seaton. The other Marys join them and they gather and sway, as though on a boat returning to Scotland.

In France Mary became freens wi wee Francis, the son o Henry, King o France. It wis arranged they should be merriet fan Mary wis fifteen year aal, an Francis wis but fourteen. (Courtly dance for wedding.**)

Seen aifter that King Henry deed an Francis became king o France, an Mary his Queen. But he himsel became nae weel, an twa year aifter that, the peer craiter deet. Syne Mary, a widow o eichteen year, gaed back tae Scotland, wi her freens, the four Marys.

HARP MUSIC until Rizzio is grabbed, then DRUMS.
The 4 Marys withdraw as Darnley joins Mary, walks down the centre, he showing arrogance, she displeasure. They separate. Mary is joined by Rizzio and Darnley by his accomplice. The harper brings on two chairs then sits on floor to play. Mary and Rizzio walk around then sit to dine, lifting wine glasses, smiling. Darnley & accomplice plot, creep down corridor, confront Rizziio, then drag Rizzio off and stab him several times. Mary and harper mime panic/fear, then pray by the body.

Mony a nobleman wis eager tae coort the bonnie young reid-heided Queen. But she merriet Laird Darnley, and gied birth tae a son, James. But Darnley turnt oot tae be ill-natered, prood, greedy, lazy, an a drunkard forby. Mary wis althegither scunnert wi him an preferred the company o her secretary, David Rizzio. This made Darnley jealous an he plotted his murder.

Scenes 5 & 6
Group 5 Mime
Group 6 Read
Mary marries Bothwell, battles follow. Bothwell flees. Mary is held prisoner in Loch Leven Castle but escapes

Group 6 Mime
Group 5 Read
After the Battle of Longside Mary flees to England but Queen Elizabeth emprisons her for 18 years, then orders her execution.

Darnley stands alone and collapses as though murdered. Bothwell walks down the aisle with Mary. Soldiers adopt fighting poses behind them. Bothwell raises an arm as though commanding an army, then takes fright and flees. Wllm Douglas and friend come and arrest Mary, march her to a room in the castle, lock the door and go for dinner. Two family members creep up behind and steal the keys, taking them to Mary. They bow, then lead her to a rowing boat, and cross the loch, dropping the keys in the middle. Two friends wave in darkness and embrace Mary as she lands, then ride off. The men row back. Mary raises an arm as though to assemble an army, then stands alone in defeat, head bowed, comes forward showing despair, then begs for pity.

Nae lang aifter that, Darnley himsel wis murdered. Aifter that there wis rivalries an strife an aa kines o misery. Mary merriet, syne, the Earl o Bothwell, fa raised an airmy. Aa the lairds wis fechtin aroon aboot her. Bothwell ran awa. The Queen wis taen prisoner on the Island o Loch Leven. The Earl o Moray took ower the kingdom an gart peer Mary sign a paper tae say she wis nae langer in pooer. Her wee son James was croont King.

At Loch Leven Castle Sir William Douglas wis Mary’s jiler, but twa o his family helpet her tae escape. They stole the muckle kaiys o the Castle an drapped in the middle o the loch. Aince free Mary raised an airmy as did the Earl o Moray The twa airmies focht een anither at Langside, near Glesga. Mary’s airmy wis defeated. She fled tae England tae seek help fae her cousin, Queen Elizabeth

Two actors arrest Mary, march her round and leave her alone centre stage, Mary Seaton walks on and embraces her. They sit, pray, play harp and flute or lute, make lace or embroider. Mary Seaton leaves sadly. The new lady-in-waiting comes and comforts Mary when the Messenger brings news of her execution. A priest enters to give her the last rites. She is escorted slowly to scaffold with the lady, who bows her head. Mary puts her head on the block and the executioner chops three times.

Insteid o helpin her, Elizabeth emprisoned Mary for eichteen year. Peer Mary niver saw her son James again. For company for mony years she hid Mary Seaton. Thegither they said prayers, read poetry, sang an played music. They shewed tapestries, an delicate lace. Syne Mary Seaton retired tae France. Early in the year fifteen hunner and eichty seiven, Queen Elizabeth gied orders that Mary wis tae be executed. They say she deet wi great dignity.

Actors line up to take a bow. Keep MUSIC playing until audience applaud.

Note: The actors should follow the readers. Groups can pair off and read for each other.

CAST: 33 parts (some actors can play 2 parts)

Scene 1: James V & Mary of Guise marry. Mary is born. The King dies.
James V
Mary of Guise
Lady in Waiting
Minister (to crown baby)

Scene 2: Mary’s childhood in France with the 4 Marys
Mary Q (aged 7) - can use same Mary throughout
Mary Seaton
Mary Beaton
Mary Livingstone
Mary Fleming
Lady in Waiting

Scene 3: Courtly dance as Mary marries Francis. He dies.
Mary Q (aged 15 -18) - as above
4 Marys to dance as above.

Scene 4: Mary marries Darnley, who murders Rizzio.
Mary Q

Scene 5: Mary is emprisoned at Loch Leven but escapes.
Mary Q
Sir William Douglas
Douglas family member 1
2 Douglas family members to help her escape
2 friends to meet her on other side of loch.

Scene 6: Mary is emprisoned by Elizabeth I and executed.
2 escorts to prison (use executioners?)
Mary Q
Mary Seaton
Lady in Waiting

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Cite this Document

APA Style:

Queen Mary, Puir Quine. 2024. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 13 July 2024, from

MLA Style:

"Queen Mary, Puir Quine." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2024. Web. 13 July 2024.

Chicago Style

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech, s.v., "Queen Mary, Puir Quine," accessed 13 July 2024,

If your style guide prefers a single bibliography entry for this resource, we recommend:

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. 2024. Glasgow: University of Glasgow.


Information about Document 582

Queen Mary, Puir Quine


Text audience

Children (under 13s)
General public
Other Children to perform to a general audience.
Audience size 100+

Text details

Method of composition Wordprocessed
Year of composition 2004
Word count 1750
General description Short 10 minute play for primary school pupils to perform.

Text medium

Other Primary school drama day.

Text performance/broadcast details

Where performed/broadcast Aberdeenshire Primary Schools 'Doric Day'
When performed/broadcast 2003-10-10
Performed/broadcast by Mintlaw Primary School pupils (Primary 6).

Text setting


Text type

Script (film, play, radio, tv etc.)


Author details

Author id 733
Forenames Wendy
Surname de Rusett
Gender Female
Educational attainment University
Age left school 18
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism with a strong agnostic background.
Occupation Drama teacher in Primary Schools
Place of birth Aberdeen
Region of birth Aberdeen
Birthplace CSD dialect area Abd
Country of birth Scotland
Father's occupation University Lecturer
Father's country of birth England
Mother's occupation Housewife
Mother's place of birth Buckie
Mother's region of birth Moray
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Mry
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
Arabic Yes Yes Yes Yes A little.
English Yes Yes Yes Yes Mother tongue, daily use.
French Yes Yes Yes Yes Fluent, used for teaching drama
Gaelic; Scottish Gaelic No Yes No No A little, mainly for singing
German Yes Yes Yes Yes A little.
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes Learner, in community, occ. for literature
Turkish Yes Yes Yes Yes A little.