Editorial- Diverse Strands

The theme of this issue, Volume 7.2, of the International Journal of Scottish Theatre and Screen is Diverse Strands. Two years ago, Volume 5.2 was themed Alternative Identities. It is of the essence of IJOSTS that it explores – and celebrates – the absence of any single essentialist identity for Scottish theatre and screen. This issue maintains that core value as it reflects the diversity of twentieth and twenty-first century Scottish screen and theatre. While the last issue was a specialist screen one, this issue includes a range of articles which in turn address issues of screen and of theatre. This is true even of the Forum section which this time is occupied by two contrasting reviews of key artists, one the film director Bill Forsyth, the other the playwright (and novelist) J M Barrie.


Diversity is often reflected in new interactions and interdisciplinarity – particularly in cultures so concerned with issues of liminality as those of Scotland –is a continuing issue, both marking diverse strands and their being brought together in new, often temporary but often highly illuminating, syntheses. The first article in this issue, by Richie McCaffery and Stefanie Van de Peer, explores approaches in Scottish cinema to the presentation and representation of poets on screen. In both its content and its authorship, it marks the possibilities of synthesis that diversity and cross-disciplinary interests can embody. Given that, it is striking that McCaffery is a poet and literature researcher working with Van de Peer, a film scholar. They discuss what they call ‘film poems and poetry film’ as they examine the history of the relationship of Scottish poetry and film through the last century and into this with regard to the work of such key Scottish poets as Hugh MacDiarmid, Norman MacCaig, Liz Lochhead, Sorley MacLean and Robert Alan Jamieson.


The second article, by Robert Munro, carries forward discussion of Scottish cinema and again explores diversity and interdisciplinarity. In this case, it considers the recent film version of Irvine Welsh’s novel Filth in the light of both the film treatment of novels by other authors and the adaptation of other novels by Welsh, including, of course, the famous film version of Trainspotting. The article considers the processes and thematic modifications that have taken place as Filth was adapted and filmed. In doing this, the article opens up fascinating questions about the processes and structures which allow, or constrain, development of film making in Scotland, setting that discussion in broader international contexts.

The third article moves to theatre. In this Gül Kurtuluş of Bilkent University offers fresh insights into David Greig’s Dunsinane, a play which has rightly attracted much interest in recent academic writing. Kurtuluş considers profound questions of loyalty and the conception of patriotism as explored in Greig’s play, bringing to her discussion the fresh vision of a scholar working in the Turkish university system. We are invited, through Dr Kurtuluş’s exploration of diverse meanings and diverse loyalties as represented in Greig’s play, to come to an understanding of the play informed by perspectives that lie beyond those often engaged by discussion of Greig’s work, perspectives which are often based within the theatre communities of Scotland and the United Kingdom. Her article approaches the play in such a way as to offer other lively understandings of what the play says about human politico-social interactions and individual, community and national values.

The final peer-reviewed article in this issue, by the Hungarian scholar András Beck, explores the importance of the Traverse Theatre as a nursery for some of the most internationally minded writers of recent Scottish drama, focusing, as it does, on one of the most translated of contemporary Scottish plays David Harrower’s Knives in Hens. Beck explores the nature of Harrower’s work and of some of his contemporaries in terms of what qualities make their plays under discussion of such international interest. He offers a detailed and carefully documented record of translations and productions of the plays he considers in his native Hungary, but also in other Central European theatre communities. His article reminds us that the diversity of the strands of work he explores and which is such a mark of recent Scottish theatre strikes important chords in the wider European (and world) theatre community.

This issue’s Forum section is given over to two contrasting reviews with the common theme of neglect and rediscovery. Brian Hoyle reviews Jonathan Murray’s pioneering study of the cinema of Bill Forsyth, a director whose work had been until Murray’s study somewhat neglected in terms of extended critical research and discussion.

Meantime, David M. Clark complements Hoyle’s review of a key film-maker with his substantial review article considering three recent works by leading Barrie scholars, which revisit, reinterpret and rediscover the work of Barrie, surely one of the most often misunderstood of the leading twentieth-century Scottish dramatists, one whose reputation may have diminished after his death, but is now beginning to flourish in the light of recent scholarship. As Clark observes in his final paragraph, ‘The sheer scope and depth of Barrie studies revealed in these volumes would seem to suggest that Barrie scholarship is currently at an important stage in its development’. Both reviewers draw attention to fresh studies of important artists in Scottish screen and theatre.

Ian Brown and Ksenija Horvat, Editors