A Saltire Sky


It was developed by DaisyChain Associates in partnership with Simpson House (Crossreach/Church of Scotland) and Africa Centre Scotland (through Agnes Holmes).

It was a 12 week Edinburgh-based project bringing children from families affected by drug issues together with children of African heritage. The first performance took place in the garden lobby of the Scottish Parliament in May 2010.

Theme of the play

‘A Saltire Sky’ tells the story of two young people – Callum and Thandiwe – who need to find their own identities and deal with the experience of making a life in a new country and culture. Issues of culture, identity and differing expectations are central to their characters.

Key questions are about what it means to be Scottish or to live in Scotland 200, 100 or 50 years ago and what it means now. Callum comes from a family in which drug issues loom large. Thandiwe’s family has left Africa and have come to Scotland to make a better life. Help comes from an unexpected source in the shape of the 199 year old ‘ghost’ of Sir James Young Simpson (a Scottish doctor who is an important figure in medical history). His grandfatherly voice and wisdom support each of them to think through the challenges they face and the differences between them. Additional performances are due to take place at the Edinburgh World Heritage Centre in Charlotte Square on 10th and 11 August. (Contact Maggie Aitken if you would like to attend as the audience is by invitation only.)

DaisyChain Associates is a Community Interest Company (CIC), now into its fifth year of short plays and projects based on real life research into how substance misuse affects lives, families and communities. It undertakes commissions and works with a range of associates to create short, professional plays to explore key issues with lively and interesting debates to follow. Having entered intergenerational waters, DaisyChain is exploring possibilities of addressing relationships between generations in Scotland more directly.

Success Factors

Working with excellent partner organisations and with committed and caring individuals within specific and agreed boundaries, led to:

  • a solid and powerful foundation within which the creative process can take place
  • good communication and working relationships
  • trust and mutual respect extending to everyone from actors to audiences.

This project began from one perspective and moved dynamically in an entirely different direction. Flexibility is always an important factor as long as quality and sincerity are maintained. Confidence in the partnership is the bedrock of all of the company’s work and this means that, when inevitable difficulties arise, there is a wealth of experience to find solutions. With dedicated people working together, committed to the same values and effort, there is always likely to be a good end result.

Performing arts can provide one of the finest means of communication. In a situation where conflict impacts on individuals, families and communities, a short play can explain and illuminate these as no other format. This approach also cuts the distance between the various parties and offers a ‘level playing field’ of mutual understanding. It allows participants to move forward through meaningful and enjoyable discussion. Like this play, intergenerational practice challenges artificial barriers, social constructs and stereotypes. Ultimately, it is about looking beyond surface expectations to the person underneath.

Young actors Adiza and Rhys worked with veteran Scottish treasure Ronnie Browne (of Corries fame) on this project – a remarkable cross-current of talent, enthusiasm and experience. Nobody had done anything like this before, yet moving out of their comfort zones has created a new energy that lights up this play.