Editorial 4:1

The relaunch of this journal has been made possible through collaboration between Queen Margaret University and Kingston University. The reshaping of the original International Journal of Scottish Theatre after a period of non-publication arising from internal changes at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, has allowed its subject matter to be extended to include screen. Its sponsorship, jointly by two universities, is intended to provide greater stability and longevity to the publication, and to ensure that rigour and innovative approaches to the research in Scottish theatre and screen are maintained to high standard and made widely available through e publishing the Journal through the Open Journal System. The Journal is a result of its Editorial Board’s ongoing commitment to making current trends in the research in these subject areas available to a wide range of readership – from scholars to practitioners, Scottish theatre enthusiasts and new generations of students who come anew to the topics and the figures referred to on these pages.  It is our intention to offer fresh national and international perspectives, challenge canon, explore the work of new and seasoned artists – those who ride the tide of popularity and those who create on the margins – and to tap into current debates in scholarly circles and industry.  

  The IJOSTS’s relaunch embodies continuity. The co-editors are Ian Brown, the first editor of the journal, and Ksenija Horvat, the original assistant editor. It is also a time for reflection on differences since the last issue of the old IJOST appeared at the end of 2002. Sadly the original deputy editor, Bill Findlay, died prematurely in 2005. His contribution to scholarship at the highest level combined with openness to his colleagues and his students marked him as a remarkably supportive and generous helpmeet to any who approached him for advice or information. Bill Findlay’s contribution to knowledge about Scottish theatre, and culture in general, was outstanding, as was his work with Martin Bowman and on his own in translating so many plays, some classic, more contemporary, into Scots. It is a matter of great pride and pleasure that the first article in the revived journal in whose foundation he was so instrumental comprises research by him unpublished at his death. With the permission of his widow, Jessica Burns, Ian Brown has lightly reshaped a key chapter from his doctoral thesis considering Edwin Morgan’s version of Cyrano de Bergerac and the editors have, as with any of the peer-reviewed articles in IJOSTS, submitted it for double-blind international review. The result is, we consider, a reminder of the very high quality of Bill’s writing and the rigour of his research. The publication of this article allows us to mark again the continuing sense of loss we feel at Bill’s passing. It also, given its topic, allows the journal to note with respect and regret the death in 2010 of Edwin Morgan, not only a great poet, but latterly a man of the theatre whose translations into Scots were of the highest importance.  

There are two other articles on theatre topics, focusing on the work of two playwrights whose work raises issues of identity in complex ways. Ewan MacColl and Nicola McCartney have both made substantial contributions to theatre, not just in Scotland but internationally. Their plays and the differing possible perceptions of their cultural identity raise important questions about what constitutes the ‘Scottish’ in ‘Scottish Theatre and Screen’. MacColl came to self-identify as Scots, while McCartney maintains a more complex international identity. The studies of their work both mark their importance to the history and practice of Scottish theatre and remind us of the sometimes-arbitrary nature of identity and the inclusiveness that has marked modern Scottish theatre. MacColl‘s background reminds us, in Iain Wright’s memorable sentence, that ‘In the twentieth century the Scots continued to be a semi-nomadic people’ (Wright 2007: 304) (1)   

McCartney’s career in Scotland is an illuminating parallel to how some Scottish writers have been appropriated into other literary contexts – Arthur Conan Doyle springs to mind – and reminds us that, in the fluent interaction of cultural exchange, Scottish theatre has adopted and embraced writers from other cultures.  

The fourth peer-reviewed article by Simon Brown marks the new dimension to the journal’s scope. It engages freshly with a sometimes neglected aspect of Scottish screen studies and is particularly welcome in that it is provided by a member of staff of Kingston University, which has so generously joined with Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh in publishing IJOSTS. The broadening of IJOSTS’s interests into screen studies is neither unexpected nor out of place in terms of its previous incarnation. The International Journal of Scottish Theatre already featured papers that touched upon subjects of Scottish television studies by such reputable scholars as Jonathan Bignell,(2) Stephen Lacey (3) and Robin Nelson.(4) Simon Brown’s contribution looks to Petrie’s concept of New Scottish Cinema as a starting point for a larger debate about the relationship between the transnational nature and national identity of Scottish cinematography post-1990. Focusing on a comparative analysis of two films, Loach’s Sweet Sixteen (2002) and Anderson’s Dear Frankie (2005), Brown argues that, far from preventing New Scottish Cinema dealing with Scottish issues, the concept of transnationalism offers a more inclusive approach, encompassing  the varieties of national identities of Scotland, something that in a way, in terms of Scottish theatre, McGrath and Conn already touched upon in the 1984 interviews we publish in our Forum section when they problematicised MacDiarmid’s concept of Scottishness.  

This issue’s Forum section – IJOSTS is following the IJOST policy of enhancing its more academic, peer-reviewed, articles with forum pieces – allows us to note yet another sad death in the period the Journal was not being published, that of Tom McGrath. Tom was not only a major playwright and poet, he was a very important mentor for many of the younger generation of Scottish playwrights. It gives us particular pleasure that Ella Wildridge has given permission to publish the content of an interview he gave Ian Brown in 1984. This was originally published that same year in Interface5  in summer 1984, but is not widely available; its publication now allows this fascinating interview to be more widely available. The McGrath interview is accompanied, as in the original, by interviews undertaken at the same time with Liz Lochhead and Stewart Conn. They have given their kind permission for the republication of their words, in particular because the Forum piece can be seen as remembering Tom and his major importance to the well-being of Scottish theatre.  

Finally in a new addition to the journal’s content, we include a book review by Richard Butt of David Martin-Jones’s Scotland: Global Cinema, Genres Modes and Identities (2010). We will be happy in future issues to publish as appropriate reviews of relevant texts. This review marks the desire of the IJOSTS editorial team to remain open to new ventures. If this relaunch issue has provided opportunities to remember three key figures – Bill Findlay, Edwin Morgan and Tom McGrath – we make no apology. They all deserve our continuing attention. But the journal also represents a new beginning, both in itself and in marking the way in which over the last decade studies of Scottish Theatre and Screen have become more and more a matter of international importance. IJOSTS is happy to mark this and looks forward to supporting those studies over the years to come.  

Ian Brown  

Ksenija Horvat  


Wright, I. 2007. The Diaspora and its Writers In: Brown, I. ed. The Edinburgh History of Scottish Literature. Vol. 3. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University, pp. 304-319.  

(1) Wright, I. 2007. The Diaspora and its Writers In: Brown, I. ed. The Edinburgh History of Scottish Literature. Vol. 3. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University, pp. 304-319.  

(2) Bignell, J. 2002. John McGrath and the Dialogues of Television Studies. International Journal of Scottish Theatre. 3 (2) December. [online publication].  

(3) Lacey, S. 2002. Blood Red Roses: John McGrath and Lukacsian Realism. International Journal of Scottish Theatre. 3 (2) December [online publication].  

(4) Nelson, R. 2002. The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil – Political Theatre and the Case Against Television Naturalism. International Journal of Scottish Theatre, 3 (2). December. [online publication]. 5 

See in Cultural Hegemony – Theoretic and Creative Perspectives. Interface: A New Interdisciplinary Journal for the Creative Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. Issue 3. Summer 1984. Based at Crewe and Alsager College of Higher Education.