Modern Scottish Theatre
: the Creation of a Tradition

  • Mark Brown

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Scotland has enjoyed a late and significant flowering of theatre since the late 1960s. This project explores what I believe to have been a Renaissance that has occurred in Scottish theatre since 1969 and tests my thesis that at the core of this revival lie profound connections to the related concepts of Europeanness and Modernism.

    The work combines a considerable quantity of new material, generated through exclusive interviews conducted with major players in this Renaissance (both theatre directors and dramatists), with my own analyses and interaction with the existing critical and academic literature. The thesis begins with a Preface addressing various facets of European Modernism and their relations to the development of Scottish theatre since the late Sixties. Chapter 1 of the work offers a detailed consideration of the role played in Scottish theatre's revival by Giles Havergal's thirty-four year reign as artistic director at Glasgow's Citizens Theatre, and explores the manner in which Havergal's work was, or was not, taken forward by his successors Jeremy Raison (2003-2010) and Dominic Hill (2010 to the present).

    Moving on from the establishing of a European Modernist aesthetic at the Citizens in the 1970s, the thesis contends (in Chapter 2) that this aesthetic was disseminated more widely in Scottish theatre in the 1980s, and that the driving force in that dissemination was Communicado theatre company. Chapter 3 addresses the emergence of a generation of Scottish theatremakers in the 1990s whose work, arguably, represents the clearest and strongest reflection of European Modernist aesthetics in new theatre produced in Scotland. This chapter comprises interviews (in question and answer format) with the five artists who I consider to be the leading figures in the "golden generation" of the Nineties, followed by analyses of the interviews. The interviewees are writers David Greig, Zinnie Harris, David Harrower and Anthony Neilson, and the auteur director/designer Stewart Laing.

    Finally, in Chapter 4 and the Conclusion, the thesis considers the way in which the National Theatre of Scotland (established in 2006) has mapped onto and contributed towards the European Modernist strand in Scottish Theatre. This is followed by an analysis of the possible future for this tradition in live drama in Scotland.
    Date of Award2017
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorJo George (Supervisor) & Mark Robson (Supervisor)


    • Scottish theatre
    • European
    • Modernism

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