549: Scots of the Spanish Civil War

By Robbie Gordon & Jack Nurse

1936. In villages, towns and cities across Scotland, 549 lives are gradually intertwining.

People of contrasting backgrounds, ideologies and religions. Spurred on by their burning passion for equality and freedom, they will form the Scottish ranks of the Spanish Civil War’s legendary International Brigade.

2022. The country is in crisis.

In a small pub in Prestonpans, East Lothian, four millennials are told a story. The true story of four local miners who, 86 years ago, travelled from the streets of Prestonpans to the valleys of Spain. They gave up everything that was familiar: for a people they had never met and for a cause they believed was right. 

549, is a play with songs and storytelling, and a timely insight into one of Scotland’s almost forgotten conflicts. Co-created over 7 years, the production was born out of conversations in pubs, living rooms and cafes in Prestonpans with family members of the 549 wishing to tell the incredible story of their ancestors.

We have now created two versions of the show allowing us to tour to some of Scotland’s most famous stages and town halls in the heart of communities. The production’s legacy now shines brightly in the stained glass window at the pub where the play debuted, memorialising the conflict. In Prestonpans town centre, our name is etched on a plaque beside the newly restored Spanish Civil War memorial, which sparked the tale’s inception. Furthermore, Tam, whose father is the play’s protagonist and was deeply embedded in the research, was so moved that he penned a book and even addressed Westminster.


Live Performances




Locations Across Scotland


National Tours

“A formidable piece of popular small-scale touring theatre in the 7:84 tradition, educating working class audiences across Scotland about their own history, while providing a superb night out.”


Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman

549: Scots of the Spanish Civil War Documentary

After touring 549: Scots of the Spanish Civil War in 2022, for the first time, audiences can now get glance at behind the scenes on how the production developed in our brand new documentary filmed by Carina Haouchine.


Wonder Fools have interviewed historians, family members of volunteers and members of the International Brigade Memorial Trust from around the UK and captured their stories, available to listen to and explore on our digital archive.

“This play doesn’t just want us to remember and respect our history, it’s a call to arms and a timely reminder to always fight for what you believe in.” — ★★★★ Reviews Hub

“549 is a beautifully moving tale of friendship, bravery and sacrifice…It is truly not to be missed.” – ★★★★ The Skinny

“Boisterous and brilliant retelling of an important episode in Scottish history” — ★★★★ The Wee Review

“Black Watch reimagined for a small town function room” — ★★★★ The Herald

“Watching it I was reminded of the observation of earlier agitprop companies like 7:84 Scotland and Wildcat – tell your story, but give them a good night out! Wonder Fools did all of that tonight… And’ they have done it with humour, passion, and of course at times, sadness.” – Audience Member and son of George Drever of the 549

“This review is written from the stand point of someone who rarely goes to the theatre, but wishes to share what was a truly moving experience…Wonder Fools’ portrayal of the story of the Prestonpans miners shows that it IS possible to bring history to life in a meaningful, thought provoking way. If you get the chance, go and see this production – it may well change your understanding of the past.” – ★★★★★ Audience Member

Jack Nurse & Robbie Gordon

Jack Nurse

Associate Director
Lucy Wild 

Executive Producer
Steph Connell

Becky Minto

Movement Director
Robbie Gordon


Douglas Maxwell

Associate Producer
Laura Wooff

Marketing Manager
Serden Salih

Assistant Director
Nell O’Hara

Martin Donaghy, Robbie Gordon, Rebekah Lumsden, Billy Mack, Cristian Ortega and Dylan Wood.

Previous Cast Members
Jamie Marie Leary, Michael MacKenzie, Nicholas Ralph, John Stahl, Josh Whitelaw

Lighting Designer
Benny Goodman

Joshua Brown

Musical Director
Sofía Kherroubi García

Costume Supervisor
Sophie Ferguson

Production Manager
Louise Gregory

Stage Manager
Babette Wickham-Riddick

Deputy Stage Manager
Emma Yeomans

Creative Scotland, Leche Trust, Heritage Lottery Fund, East Lothian Partnership Fund, Unity Theatre Trust. Citizens Theatre and The Brunton


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