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Reading: The Sense of (Un)Belonging: David Greig’s (Un?)Scottishness in Pyrenees and Damascus

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The Sense of (Un)Belonging: David Greig’s (Un?)Scottishness in Pyrenees and Damascus

Author:

Maria Elena Capitani

University of Parma
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Abstract

In a unique way, David Greig’s biographical journey and theatrical trajectory blend his Scottish roots with wider routes. His relation to the concept of ‘home’ is inevitably complex. Born in Edinburgh in 1969, the most prolific, ambitious, and successful contemporary Scottish playwright was raised in Nigeria. He moved back to his motherland in 1980, with no traces of accent, "stand[ing] out like a sore thumb" (quoted in Müller and Wallace 2011: 15) among his family and fellow Scots. After graduating from Bristol University, Greig felt that he had to settle permanently in Scotland in order to become a writer, thus stressing how roots are crucial to the ‘textualisation’ and creative (re)negotiation of identity.

Scotland – as well as the fluid notion of Scottishness – can be defined as a ‘present absence’ pervading Greig’s drama. Focusing on Pyrenees (2005) and Damascus (2007), two plays in which Scotland exists exclusively in absentia and/or in relation to the ‘Other’, this article explores Greig’s linguistic and cultural geographies of (trans)national identity. Set in ‘non-places’ outside Scottish borders (two anonymous hotels located in the South of France and in Syria, respectively), these plays offer a globalised version of Caledonian culture and identity, made up of clichés and frequently subsumed by Britishness. Permeable, multifaceted, protean and (un)written sous rature, Greig’s Scotland functions, in David Pattie’s words, "as the silent partner in a never-to-be-completed conversation; as though the country has no substance in itself, but acquires meaning only through a process of continual re-engagement". (Pattie quoted in Müller and Wallace 2011: 55)

References.

Greig, D. 2011. Suspect Cultures & Home Truths. In: Müller, A. and Wallace, C. Eds. Cosmotopia: Transnational Identities in David Greig’s Theatre. Prague Litteraria Pragensia.

Pattie, D. 2011. Scotland & Anywhere: The Theatre of David Greig. In: Müller, A. and Wallace, C. Eds. Cosmotopia: Transnational Identities in David Greig’s Theatre. Prague Litteraria Pragensia.

How to Cite: Capitani, M.E., 2017. The Sense of (Un)Belonging: David Greig’s (Un?)Scottishness in Pyrenees and Damascus. International Journal of Scottish Theatre and Screen, 10, pp.19–39.
Published on 12 Dec 2017.
Peer Reviewed

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