WHEN most of us think of Scottish theatre, it is the playwrights that spring to mind, with names such as David Harrower, Liz Lochhead and David Greig.

But award-winning set designer and director Stewart Laing is set to explore the history of theatre from a new angle.

"As a Scottish theatre-maker the history of Scottish theatre is often about the playwrights," says Stewart, 52, from the city centre.

"But, as a director, I felt the history of Scottish theatre-making had got a little bit lost so I wanted to make a piece of theatre that explores theatre making as well."

His latest production, Paul Bright's Confessions Of A Justified Sinner, will be staged at Tramway from tonight until June 29.

It explores themes of Scottish identity and the history of Scottish theatre through the story of a mysterious director who worked in the 1980s in the run-up to Glasgow's year as City Of Culture in 1990.

"He is real for me, we have been exploring this guy's life and work," says Stewart, who has compiled a one-man show complete with a photographic exhibition, interviews with famous theatrical faces, and original footage from Bright's production in the 1980s.

Performed by River City actor George Anton, playing himself, the show includes set design by Glasgow School Of Art graduates Robbie Thomson and Jack Wrigley, who work on Glasgow art collective 85A.

It also includes a film sequence by cinematographer Christopher Doyle, who worked with director Wong Kar-wai on films such as Chungking Express and In The Mood For Love.

"The audience will come in and there is a short period of time to watch the videos, look at the photographs and the drawings. Then the actual performance has a large projection screen and we have lots of film and video that is part of that," explains Stewart.

"In bringing the production together we have made some film and have also found a lot of old film. We have also been interviewing people who knew Paul Bright.

"These include Giles Havergal, who used to run the Citizens Theatre, actress Alison Peebles and film maker Annie Griffin, who did The Book Group on TV.

"They are giving us their memories of what he was like as a person and what he was like to work with."

The original production, which is then explored in the latest show, is based on the 1824 James Hogg novel The Private Memoirs And Confessions Of A Justified Sinner.

Stewart says: "James Hogg was writing about Scottish identity. "The events he is writing about in the book happened just before the Union with England. They are very early 18th century and it is about fundamental Calvinism and fundamental Protestantism.

"There is reference to the Union with England happening, the fights between the Unionists and the Nationalists. That is also something we are exploring now that we are potentially coming to the end of the Union with England.

"But it was really more about exploring Scottish theatre history.

"Our performance is exploring Scottish identity and the myth-making that comes out of that sort of exploration of Scottish identity."

Stewart's background is in set design, and he won a Tony Award in 1997 for his work on Titanic The Musical.

So, for him, Scottish theatre is very much about the visual impact of shows.

"I trained at art school and it is the visual theatre in Scotland that I think is forgotten about because we spend all our time remembering the literary tradition.

"So it is the visual theatre aspect in Scottish theatre that I am excited about.

"When you ask people if they have been to the theatre, you ask them what they went to see – you don't ask them what they went to hear, and I think people sometimes forget that."

His theatre company, Untitled Productions, is not afraid to challenge audiences.

They also produced The Salon Project at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, which asked audiences to dress in full 19th century costume for an evening of music, talks, video and conversation.

"Audiences in Scotland see a lot of theatre – because there is a lot of theatre in Scotland," says Stewart.

"And because there is so much theatre, audiences want a different experience.

"Maybe when they go to the theatre they don't just want to go in and sit down and the lights go out and a play happens.

"I think there is an audience that is really adventurous and wants to see something that explores other art forms, like film marking and the visual arts."

l Confessions Of A Justified Sinner Tickets £14/£10. Call 0845 3303501 or see the website: www.tramway.org