English Literature

Staff expertise

The MSc Playwriting draws upon leading European professional theatre artists and the outstanding research and teaching strengths of the Department of English Literature.

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Nicola McCartney

Originally from Belfast, Nicola McCartney is an award-winning writer and director and dramaturge, based in Scotland.

A graduate of the University of Glasgow, she was Artistic Director of Glasgow-based new writing theatre company, lookOUT from 1992 to 2002.

Nicola’s plays include:

  • Heritage
  • Lifeboat
  • Standing Wave (Delia Derbyshire in the 60s)
  • Easy
  • Rachel's House
  • Cave Dewellers
  • Crazy Jane

Nicola has worked as a dramaturge for a range of companies including Vanishing Point and the Edinburgh International Festival 2005.

She has had a number of residencies, both academic and community-based, and is one of the Associate Playwrights of the new Playwrights' Studio Scotland.

She was a recipient of a Creative Scotland Award 2003 to work on her first novel entitled Ice Angel, and also works in radio, TV and film.

She is also a practitioner of socially-engaged theatre and has worked with all sorts of groups, including people within the criminal justice system in UK and USA, asylum seekers and refugees, drug users, survivors of domestic violence and childhood abuse. 

Nicola has worked with Traverse’s flagship outreach programme, Class Act, since 1997, pioneering it in Russia, Ukraine and India.

In 2018, she was awarded an Olwen Wymark Theatre Encouragement Award for encouraging new writing in the UK by the Writers' Guild of Great Britain.

Guest practitioners

The Playwriting MSc programme also has regular masterclasses with guest theatre practitioners. A snapshot of our guests in 2017-18 includes:

  • Kai Fischer -  lighting and set designer and director
  • Tanika Gupta -  playwright
  • Adura Onashile - playwright
  • Hannah Khalil -  playwright
  • Orla O'Loughlin - Artistic Director of the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
  • Jemima Levick - Artistic Director of Stellar Quines Theatre Company
  • Philip Howard - theatre director
  • Matt Padden - sound designer
  • Professor Ros Steen - voice director and expert
  • Maja Zade - dramaturg, Schaubunhe Theatre, Berlin
  • Jonnie Riordan - performer and director
  • Frantic Assembly Theatre Company

Playwrights' Studio Scotland

We run the practical development workshops with professional artists, and the readings from students' work at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, with Playwrights' Studio Scotland. This is the nation's only arts organisation exclusively dedicated to the long-term support, development and promotion of Scotland's playwrights. It works actively and creatively with playwrights, connecting them with audiences and organisations, for the ultimate enrichment and enjoyment of the people of Scotland and beyond.

Artists in Residence

Occasionally, the Playwriting MSc programme hosts Artists in Residence. For example, in 2012, we had two Artists in Residence, sponsored by the National Theatre Foundation, with whom students had the opportunity to work:

Elizabeth Maclennan

Elizabeth Maclennan is a Glasgow-born Scottish actress and radical popular theatre practitioner.

She helped to found 7:84 Theatre Company in 1971 and 7:84 Scotland in 1973, and performed in plays with 7:84 throughout the 1970s and 1980s, in such classics of British popular theatre as The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil (1973)

John Wright

John Wright is an international, award-winning director of theatre and is a co-founder and an artistic director of Told by an Idiot. In 1980 he was also co-founder of Trestle Theatre Company, where he co-directed most of their repertoire until 1992.