St Andrews historians at the Edinburgh International Festival.

Two St Andrews historians, Michael Brown and Christine McGladdery, recently found their work overlapping with the drama and footlights of the 2014 Edinburgh International Festival. Both historians of two different King Jameses – James I and James II of Scotland, respectively – they were approached in May by the director of the National Theatre of Scotland about a production of a trilogy of plays written by Scottish playwright Rona Munro. These plays, dealing with the lives of James I, James II, and James III (collectively known as the “James Plays”), were performed both individually and back-to-back in a series of seven-and-a-half hour marathon showings throughout the Festival, to warm reviews.

Drs Brown and McGladdery, along with Dr Norman Macdougall (a now-retired St Andrews historian and expert on James III), both contributed notes towards the programme for the play series and participated in a series of video interviews, produced by the National Theatre of Scotland to publicise and contextualise the plays. Michael Brown also took part in an evening of talks and audience  questions with Rona Munro in June.

The project was, in the words of Dr McGladdery, an especially exciting one in that it involved bringing a relatively unknown period (in terms of wider public consciousness) to life on stage through drama. She comments that “The James Plays are based on Rona Munro’s interpretation of the sources and extensive background research, brought to life by Laurie Sansom’s direction, and provide a powerful, sometimes humorous, and thought-provoking theatrical experience that will, hopefully, inspire those whose interest has been stimulated to explore the subject further by reading the academics’ interpretation!”

You can watch one of the video interviews below. Although the James Plays run in Edinburgh is now over, the production will be showing at the National Theatre in London from September 10th onwards.

<p><a href=”″>The James Family Tree – James I</a> from <a href=””>National Theatre of Scotland</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

About standrewshistory
With over forty full time members of staff researching and teaching on European, American and Asian history from the dawn of the Middle Ages to the present day, the School of History at the University of St Andrews has one of the finest faculty and diverse teaching programmes of any School of History in the English speaking world. The School boasts expertise in Mediaeval and Modern History, from S cotland to Byzantium and the Americas to the Middle East and South Asia.Thematic interests include religious history, urban history, transnationalism, historiography and nationalism. The School of History prides itself on small group teaching and tutorials allowing for in depth study and supervision tailored to secure the best from each student. Cutting edge research combined with teaching excellence offer a dynamic and intellectually stimulating environment for the study of History.

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