David Greig (dramatist)

David Greig (born 1969) is a Scottish playwright and theatre director. His work has been performed at many of the major theatres in Britain, including the Traverse Theatre, Royal Court Theatre, Royal National Theatre, Royal Lyceum Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, and been produced around the world.

Early lifeEdit

Greig was born in Edinburgh in 1969, and was brought up in Nigeria.[1] Returning to Edinburgh in his teens, he was a pupil at the independent Stewart's Melville College. He later studied English and Drama at Bristol University.


After university, in 1990 he co-founded Suspect Culture Theatre Company with Graham Eatough and Nick Powell in Glasgow;[2][3] he would go on to write the texts for almost all of their shows until 2004, including Timeless (1997), Mainstream (1999), Candide 2000 (2000), Casanova (2001), Lament (2002), and 8000m (2004).

His stand-alone plays, from Stalinland (1992) began to be picked up by major theatres; the Traverse produced Europe (1995), The Architect (1996, made into a film of the same title in 2006), Outlying Islands (2002), Damascus (2007) and Midsummer (a play with songs by Gordon McIntyre, 2008). Paines Plough produced The Cosmonaut's Last Message To The Woman He Once Loved In The Former Soviet Union[4] (1999) and Pyrenees (2005). The RSC commissioned and produced Victoria (2000) and The American Pilot (2005). His sequel to Macbeth, Dunsinane (2010) was premiered at the Hampstead Theatre by the Royal Shakespeare Company. The Speculator (1999) and San Diego (2003) were commissioned by the Edinburgh International Festival. When the National Theatre of Scotland was formed in 2006, Greig served as its first Dramaturg[5] and also wrote an adaptation of Euripides' The Bacchae for them. His adaptation of Alasdair Gray's novel Lanark opened at the Lyceum Theatre as part of the Edinburgh International Festival in 2015.[6] In 2006, he joined the Board of the Traverse Theatre.[5]

Greig produced around 50 plays, texts, adaptations, translations and libretti in the first two decades of his career. Dr Korczak's Example (2004) is a play for young people and Danny 306 + Me 4 Ever (1999) is for puppets. He has produced adaptations of Tintin in Tibet (2005) for the Barbican, London, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2013) for the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart (2011) for the National Theatre of Scotland was designed to be toured to and performed in pubs; partnering with Punchdrunk, it played an extended run from November 2016 to April 2017 at the Heath restaurant in the McKittrick Hotel, home of the similarly immersive theatrical experience Sleep No More in New York City. He has provided English-language versions of foreign plays, including Camus's Caligula (2003), and Strindberg's Creditors (2008). In 2013, he wrote The Events, in which different local choirs perform the musical numbers every night. Lyn Gardner, in The Guardian, chose this as her best piece of theatre in 2013.[7] With local politician Sarah Beattie-Smith of the Scottish Green Party, Greig curated the political discussion show Two Minute Manifesto which toured Scotland in 2015.[8] In 2018 it was announced that he would adapt the classic film Local Hero for the stage, with music by Mark Knopfler. The production opened at Edinburgh's Royal Lyceum Theatre in March 2019. Its 2020 transfer to the Old Vic in London[9] was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[10]

Greig took over from Mark Thomson as Artistic Director of Edinburgh's Royal Lyceum Theatre in 2016.[11] He adapted Aeschylus' The Suppliant Women for the Lyceum in October 2016.[12] The 2019 opening of Greig's first original new play in 6 years, Adventures With The Painted People, at the Pitlochry Festival Theatre was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[13]


Despite the richness and variety of Greig's work, some persistent concerns and motifs are visible. A yearning for connection between characters, despite enormous personal, social, cultural and political distances between them; international and global links, represented through travel, desire, fantasies of other cultures; great value placed on imagination, creativity, wonder.[according to whom?]


Greig has won the Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award twice; for Midsummer (2012) and The Events (2013).[14] In March 2018 it was announced that Royal Lyceum Theatre productions were shortlisted for awards in 12 categories at the Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland.[15]

Personal lifeEdit

Greig lives in Fife, Scotland, with his wife and two children. Greig has increasingly emerged as a significant political commentator in contemporary Scotland, intervening importantly in the debates over Creative Scotland in 2012[16] and proving an advocate of Scottish independence in the run-up to the Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014.[17]

Selected list of playsEdit

Original playsEdit

  • Europe (1994)
  • One Way Street (1995)
  • The Architect (1996)
  • Caledonia dreaming (1997)
  • The Cosmonaut's Last Message to the Woman he once Loved in the Former Soviet Union (1999)
  • The Speculator (1999)
  • Danny 306 + Me (4Ever) (1999)
  • Victoria (2000)
  • The Swannsong (2000)[18]
  • Dr Korczak’s Example (2001)
  • Casanova (2001)
  • Outlying Islands (2002)
  • San Diego (2003)
  • American Pilot (2005)
  • Pyrenees (2005)
  • Yellow Moon: the Ballad of Leila and Lee (2006)
  • Damascus (2007)
  • Midsummer (2008)
  • Dunsinane (2010)
  • The Monster in the Hall (2010)
  • The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart (2011)
  • The Letter of Last Resort (2012)
  • The Events (2013)
  • Adventures With The Painted People (2020)

Translations and adaptationsEdit


  1. ^ Dickson, Andrew (24 January 2015). "How playwright David Greig discovered Birnam Wood in Basra". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  2. ^ Dan Rebellato, Graham Eatough and David Greig. The Suspect Culture Book Archived 2016-06-03 at the Wayback Machine, London: Oberon Books, 2013, p.9. ISBN 9781849430876.
  3. ^ Clare Wallace. The Theatre of David Greig, London: Bloomsbury, 2013, p.4. ISBN 9781408157329.
  4. ^ "The Cosmonaut's Last Message To The Woman He Once Loved In The Former". The Independent. 2 April 2009.
  5. ^ a b Wallace 2013, p.4.
  6. ^ Gardner, Lyn (10 September 2015). "Running the Lyceum could be David Greig's greatest show yet". the Guardian. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  7. ^ Gardner, Lyn (31 December 2013). "Best theatre of 2013, No 1: The Events". the Guardian. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  8. ^ "Theatre review: Two Minute Manifesto". The Scotsman. 7 May 2016. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  9. ^ "New stage version of Local Hero to be produced by Old Vic and Lyceum". Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  10. ^ "An update on postponed shows". The Old Vic. 17 April 2020. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  11. ^ "David Greig named Lyceum Theatre's artistic director". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. 9 September 2015.
  12. ^ "David Greig announces first season at Edinburgh's Lyceum". The Stage. Edinburgh. 3 May 2016.
  13. ^ "Coronavirus: Edinburgh Lyceum unveils lockdown programme". The Stage. 29 April 2020.
  14. ^ "Where are they now". caroltambor.com. Archived from the original on 25 April 2018. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  15. ^ "Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland nominations: Edinburgh's Lyceum picks up 12 nods | News | The Stage". The Stage. 10 May 2018. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  16. ^ "Culture Secretary tells Creative Scotland to sort out criticisms - The Scotsman". Archived from the original on 9 May 2016.
  17. ^ "Scottish independence yes vote would drive change in England, says writer". theguardian.com. 3 January 2014.
  18. ^ "audio THE SWANSONG By David,Greig". Retrieved 3 September 2019.

External linksEdit