The Plurality of Creativity | Brown | International Journal of Scottish Theatre

This, the fifth issue of the International Journal of Scottish Theatre, takes as its theme Plurality of Creativity. Each of the articles included in this issue addresses aspects of creativity in theatre. The first three articles investigate the work of three Scottish playwrights of the last forty years. The fourth demonstrates the ways in which representations of Scotland may be used by artists of other countries, in this case Handel, for their own creative purposes. The fifth, the forum article, discusses the pluralism to be found in the very nature of Scottish Theatre.

This issue also continues and concludes the second theme of the last issue, the honouring of the career of Dr Roger Savage. In it, Jan Macdonald revisits and re-evaluates the work of Joan Ure, reminding us, in an important essay, of her innovative dramaturgy and her pioneering role in the development of Scottish Theatre in the latter part of the twentieth century. Cairns Craig offers a lively interpretation of the plurality of John Byrne's creativity, drawing on his writing for stage and television to highlight the ways in which Byrne's plays play with versions of reality and identity to superb and profound comic effect. Steve Cramer considers a further aspect of the plurality of creativity, the variety of the ways in which Ian Brown's use of historical material in the theatre addresses, exploits and explores the nature both of history and theatre in examining key mythic figures from Scottish history. David Kimbell in an article trailed in the last editorial explores Handelian opera and in particular the representation of the concept of Scotland in another dramatic tradition and by an artist from outside Scotland. Mark Fisher in this issue's forum article offers a privileged view of the nature of recent Scottish Theatre from his very particular perspective as one of Scotland's leading drama critics of the last decade, and now Editor of The List.

In introducing this second issue dedicated to Roger Savage, it is surely appropriate to comment briefly on the very plurality and creativity of the man himself. As was noted in the last editorial, Roger has taught at Edinburgh University from 1966 until the summer of 2001. But his range is wide. With David Kimbell, he established in 1970 the Edinburgh University Opera Club which between then and 1985 presented eight, often neglected, masterpieces of seventeenth and eighteenth century opera, including works by Purcell and Rameau. This sequence of achievement reminded the world at large of the importance of these operas. He has written important articles on Opera, addressing, inter alia, the staging of Renaissance Court Theatre and Opera and the operas of Stravinsky and Vaughan Williams. His own playwriting includes The Erik Satie Show presented by the Pool Lunchtime Theatre in the early seventies, a typically interdisciplinary effulgence of wit and dramatic understanding. His commitment to the business, as well as the study, of theatre is reflected in his membership of the Board of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival from 1975 until 1986 and of the Royal Lyceum Theatre Company from 1977 until 1985, where he latterly chaired the Artistic Sub-committee.

Roger Savage's capacity to work across boundaries means that his career offers a range of achievement that has become more difficult to find in our more discipline focused times. But his capacity to cross boundaries does not stop in his interdisciplinarity in an academic or theatrical context. He has been a leading radio arts journalist, reviewing for both BBC Scotland in the arts programmes of the late Neville Garden and for Radio 3 in Kaleidoscope. The latter's former presenter, Paul Allan, has said that Roger is the only person he knows who can talk faster than Jonathan Miller, while retaining absolute lucidity and aptness of thought. Roger is also an important documentary broadcaster in his own right. His careful research led to several series of programmes on Radio 3, such as those on the work of Purcell or on such topics as the Drottningholm Theatre. He also prepared and presented revelatory radio programmes on such themes as Indian Classical Music since Independence, while his series, The Japanese Ear, explored the ways in which contemporary Japanese hear their own classical and Western music.

Roger's research output is considerable and creative, but reflects a pluralistic variety that is often hard in modern conditions for an academic to achieve, or indeed justify. Professor Ronnie Mulryne of Warwick University, a long-time colleague of Roger's at Edinburgh in the sixties and seventies, has commented that, although Roger is not himself a product of the Scottish university system, the pluralism of his work reflects something of the nature of the Scottish university tradition. In saying this, he cites that tradition's concern for interdisciplinary, as well as deep, scholarship and its capacity to think creatively across established boundaries.

In my last editorial, I observed that Roger's 'enthusiasm as a teacher, his learned scholarship and his concern for accuracy of thought and expression have marked him out as a mentor for many of the scholars and practitioners of the present generation'. As token of this, it may be enough to mention only three names of those he has helped develop their talents. The progress of the late Ian Charleson through Edinburgh's undergraduate degree system was facilitated by Roger's creativity, so that despite his commitment to theatre he managed to graduate and move on to RADA. Roger also supported and sustained the developing talents of Jon Pope, now the dynamic Associate of the artistic triumvirate of the Citizens' Theatre, and Michael Boyd, recently appointed Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company. As with the last issue, this list might be extended by the names of authors of articles in this issue and even the subject of one of them. The ten articles contributed to IJOST in celebration of Roger Savage mark not only the respect in which he is held, but also the variety of his achievements.

As promised, the December 2002 issue of IJOST will also be dedicated to the work of an individual, in this case, John McGrath. This issue is linked to the major conference into John McGrath's life and work, Plugged into History, held at the Royal Holloway, University of London, on 19 and 20 April 2002. The papers to be published in the McGrath issue will represent reworking of selected papers presented at that conference.