Scotland: the Continental Fringe

Blog by Gareth K Vile | 21 Apr 2009

Scottish theatre is more European than England's is. European Prize winner Rodrigo Garcia’s Scatter My Ashes Over Mickey would not surprise The National Review of Live Art. And Krystian Lupa’s eight hour meditation on Warhol could succeed at the Edinburgh Festival: this vital exploration of moral relativism, creativity and drug abuse was as concise as the best script, even though improvised. English Theatre - unrepresented at the Europe Theatre Prize in Wroclaw, which I attended this month - celebrates script, plot and proscenium. On the continent, performance jumps from the stage.

Radical tactics don't abandon quality for novelty. Lupa eschewed a writer for Factory 2 and continues to scare audiences with live direction, but his actors inhabited the 1960s' screwballs with panache. Lupa is not subtle - his critiques of  materialism would be effective without expensive sets and didacticism - but he addresses serious themes. And since his Accidents led to a police raid, it's fairly safe to say acceptance hasn’t blunted his aesthetic.

The Europe Theatre Prize poses questions. Given the energy of contemporary performance in Scotland, including the National Theatre, should we look to Europe or to Britain?  Scotland offers scripted and experimental work; we are lucky to have the best of both. Yet which direction can open up the theatre to provoke, engage and make drama more than a middle-class night out?