MAKAR Liz Lochhead has said there are not enough "Scottish people" working at the national theatre company.

The poet, in a wide-ranging interview with literary magazine Gutter, said that it was a "great pity" that "there's a shortage of Scottish people working in the National Theatre of Scotland."

Her comments threaten to raise once again the controversy, sparked by the writer Alasdair Gray in his controversial 'settlers and colonists' essays, over the ethnic make-up of the leading arts companies in Scotland.

Lochhead, appointed in 2011 as Scotland's national poet, said: "It's just a shame, you know.

"I've nothing against any of the people that do work there.

"I just wish there were more Scots, some more people with a Scottish theatrical culture."

That Scottish theatrical culture, she said, is "gutsy, upfront, borderline" with a "rough and ready relationship with variety".

The artistic director of the National Theatre of Scotland is Laurie Sansom, who is English, and its first director, Vicky Featherstone, was also English.

Ms Lochhead, who joined the SNP last year, said it will be "interesting" to see what Sansom does in his reign, and noted The James Plays, the Scottish historical plays debuted at the Edinburgh International Festival last year, written by Rona Munro, were a hit in London.

She added: "I don't know what is going to happen with the arts in Scotland. The [NTS] is funded directly by the government and they've got really quite a lot of money.

"They've got all the budget for theatre in Scotland, really.

"And it's in the hands of a very few people, few of them Scottish."

The NTS associate directors, Graham McLaren, Cora Bissett and Simon Sharkey, are Scottish.

Although the National Theatre receive £4.3m in funds from the Scottish Government, Creative Scotland fund a significant amount of theatre such as the Citizens, the Dundee Rep, Traverse and Royal Lyceum and many others.

Creative Scotland funding for theatre is in the region of £15m - significantly more than the NTS budget of £4.3m.

Ms Lochhead said she that the NTS has only staged a "very sketchy" version of one of her plays, a touring version of Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off, which was produced in 2009.

She says: "I don't feel bitter. But I do think: 'F**k's sake, I would like to see something really great of mine done by the [NTS] before I'm deid."

An NTS spokeswoman said: "Whilst we do not agree with Liz Lochhead’s assessment of the National Theatre of Scotland, we continue to welcome healthy debate about Scotland’s vibrant theatre scene."

Ms Lochhead said that since its establishment the NTS has been a "very mixed bag".

She said that Black Watch, by Gregory Burke, is "one of the best bits of theatre that's ever, ever been made".

The poet and writer was less complementary about recent production Yer Granny.

She says: "Yer Granny [by Douglas Maxwell and directed by Graham McLaren] ... to me doesn't work because its denuded of the context in which it was written. It's a hunger play. It's a hunger play written about Argentina and just simply setting it in Glasgow - in an unrecognisable Glasgow - and making seventies jokes, doesn't in the end, cut it for me."