Graeme Maley, an Ayrshire-born director who has worked extensively in Iceland, has brought a series of new translations of Icelandic plays to Scotland. The latest of these is Breaker by Salka Gudmundsdottir, a young female Icelandic writer.
Maley's production of Breaker won the Best Theatre Award in this year's Adelaide Fringe, where it also picked up the Underbelly Edinburgh Award, which enabled the show's capital run.
"It's a story about a woman living on an unspecified island in the North Atlantic," says Maley. "There has been a tragic event, and the woman meets a young guy from the mainland who has gone to the island to discover his family's past. She becomes extremely defensive, with each of them defending their cultures, even though neither are completely right. So for me it is about these two cultures clashing, and both of them finding a way through that."
Such a scenario sounds uncannily like something from the Scottish contemporary theatre canon over the last couple of decades.
"That is what intrigued me about it," he says. "There is a whole back-drop to the play that is about sea myths, and there are all these connections between Scandinavian and Scottish cultures that you can see. The poetry in the two countries share similarities and in translating it we have given it a very Scottish voice."
Maley previously worked on a Scots-inflected translation of Jon Atli Jonasson's play, Djupid, or The Deep. Jonasson's monologue was told by a fisherman who survived a shipwreck, and was another example of how a specifically Icelandic story transplanted to Scottish shores. Both The Deep and Breaker were first seen in Scotland as part of Oran Mor's A Play, A Pie and A Pint seasons of lunchtime drama, the latter originally called And The Children Never Looked Back.
Maley's connection with Iceland began several years ago. After training at Queen Margaret University, he became an assistant director at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, working on several shows there and at Dundee Rep, as well as directing Susannah York in Picasso's Women.
He then became artistic director of Liverpool-based new writing company, The New Works and worked with the London-based Paines Plough company on the development of Abi Morgan's play, Great Moments Of Discovery, in association with the Arts Educational organisation whose student groups included a party from Iceland.
That led to an invitation to devise a piece with a group in Reykjavik and from that Maley ended up directing the Icelandic premiere of David Harrower's play, Blackbird.
"Audiences loved that play," says Maley, "even though the process of trying to capture the rhythms of David Harrower's writing in Icelandic was not always successful. They don't have as many words as we do. But it is about capturing the essence of the play."
It was after seeing his production of Blackbird that Jonasson approached Maley to direct Djupid and it was Jonasson who introduced Maley to Gudmundsdottir.
For all the international interest Maley's productions of Icelandic drama has garnered across the globe, the audience for home-grown playwrights there is minimal, according to Maley.
"In Adelaide the amount of interest in Breaker was incredible. But there is not really a culture of new writing in Iceland, so there is no real community in the way that there is in Scotland, and there is no one theatre that has a policy of putting on new plays. So it is easier for Icelandic playwrights to get their work on in Scotland than it is in Iceland, which is bizarre. What has been fascinating for me is taking their writing, and looking at it closely, and giving it a Scots voice. "
Breaker is at Underbelly until August 25