Rachael Clerke talks achieving redemption and Braveheart



Welcome to Marlborough Theatre! Great to have you on board for an Edinburgh Preview. Your show tackles the meaty topic of national identity, and how you have had difficulty connecting with your Scottish heritage, does the idea of performing  24 shows in Edinburgh make you want to sob into a kilt and comfort-eat shortbread?

Yes. It’s something I’ve never done before, despite feeling like a bit of a fringe veteran. I’m from Edinburgh, and I’ve flyered (badly, aged 15, 17 & 18), programmed & compered cabaret nights (better, aged 22), seen five shows a day without buying a single ticket (aged 16, and yes, most of them were shit) and generally just always been around for it every single year of my life, but I’ve never actually put a show on. So I feel like in one sense I can go in quite well prepared, but on the other hand am perhaps too aware of what can go wrong when people take a show to the fringe. I’m scared of tiny audiences, angry reviews and losing loads of money. With this show there’s the added bonus that it’s political, which to me feels important, but also means that it’s bound to get people’s backs up a bit. I’m lucky to have amazing support from Underbelly and Ideastap and everyone involved in the show so I feel like I’m going in with good  people around me, which is important. 


What can audiences expect from the show?

 I think they can expect to laugh, and then to have a think about what it might mean to have an identity that is dictated by place. I want them to be able to understand the way I feel about Scotland, and my place within it, which is well encompassed by both the film Braveheart and also Dougie MacLean’s 1977 hit folk song Caledonia. Both of these things make me want to die for my country and vomit at the sentimentality, simultaneously. Hopefully the show will throw the audience around a bit – there’s a lot of very silly bits, but then also some dark things thrown in. Oh, and they should be grinning at the end.


In one of your reviews, you were told to ‘either learn to paint or sculpt or fuck off,’ how did you take that news?

That particular quote comes from a barrage of abuse I received on a football fan forum after a performance I did dressed as Mel Gibson/William Wallace. It features in this show actually. So it’s not a real ‘review’ as such, but is also more than that, because this forum was like 115 very bad reviews, all in a row. That quote was actually light relief amongst all the misogynistic/homophobic/sectarian vitriol that was flying my way at the time. And I think it’s a brilliant reaction to performance art, because it’s probably quite representative of what a lot of people think. Mainly though I like it because it still makes me spit out my tea laughing when I read it. 

 Catch How to achieve redemption as a Scot through the medium of Braveheart on Thursday 17th July at the Marlborough Theatre. 


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