Pauline Lockhart

Quine of the Month Questions

How would you describe your current job and what do you like best about it?

I am a freelance Actor, Theatre Maker and Painter. I love the variety this brings, that every job can mean working in a different way with different people. I’d had the privilege of working with some amazing people and companies.

It’s a very precarious life with a lot of uncertainty, but that uncertainty makes it full of potential. You never know what work the future holds and that means there is always the potential of maybe your most exciting work ever!

What do you consider your best work and why?

That’s too difficult to answer! I’ve been involved in many projects that have been special for different reasons.

What was your first ever job?

I was 17 and worked in the Lyceum box office for a month and then was sacked! I’m still not quite sure why I was sacked, I thought I was doing fine. Although I did get lost when sent out for tea bags and didn’t return for about 2 hours!

What was the contact/opportunity/job offer that you feel has made the most difference to your career?

Working at the Royal Exchange in Manchester introduced me to a world of theatre outside Scotland. Scottish Theatre at the time could be quite a macho environment where you could be teased for doing your homework/preparation for a role. I got used to hiding the fact I’d been working away at home on a piece.

So it was really refreshing when, on the first day of rehearsals at the Exchange, we all sat around the table and everyone brought out their preparation to share. I didn’t have to pretend anymore, it was fantastic!

Things have changed in Scotland now, thank goodness.

What’s the biggest opportunity that you missed or wished you had taken up but didn’t?

There have been jobs I’ve turned down that maybe I should have done, who knows. It’s impossible to say really. What’s your favourite theatre production?

Communicado’s production of Cyrano de Bergerac has got to be up there. It was a fantastic thing to be a part of but also just one of those occasions when everything comes together. Edwin Morgan’s brilliant translation of a fantastic play and an amazing cast all brought together by the genius of Gerry Mulgrew’s innovative direction!

What do you like the best about working in theatre?

I love the element of risk, when you’re not sure whether something’s going to work. The opening night, which is both terrifying and exhilarating, then the rest of the run when you continue to develop and refine things and the discipline involved in keeping things fresh.

What do you like the best about being a writer/performer?

I wouldn’t call myself a writer, more of an actor and theatre maker.
One of the best things about this job, is the other people you get to work with. It isn’t a solitary job, like a writer, you can’t do it on your own. And the privilege of meeting and working with so many extraordinary and talented people, makes this one of the best jobs in the world.

What advice would you give emerging female practitioners in theatre today?

Value yourself and what you have to offer. Challenge yourself; if you think you can’t do something, that’s the thing you have to do. Believe in yourself, I know that sounds simple, but it really is so important. Don’t let that belief be rocked no matter what’s going on around you.

Who would your Stellar Quine of the month be and why?

That’s easy, Muriel Romanes. She’s a fantastic role model, I have such admiration for her vision, artistic bravery and tenacity. If Muriel believes in something, she will make it happen, no matter what odds are against her.

I trust and believe in her 100%!

Audience feedback from Untaught to Shine

We asked the audiences that attended the two evening performances of Untaught to Shine for their feedback on the work, the experience and the venue. Here is a selection of their comments:

“Fabulous, celebratory, thought provoking, fun and great venue.”

“I loved it! Each piece was interesting, unique, moving and very memorable. I would love to see more of this kind of work.”

“I really enjoyed this, I wasn’t sure what to expect but it was brilliant. I love the female empowerment message. All the performances were excellent!”

“Very inspiring, thought provoking. The girls in Nigeria came to mind, kidnapped by a group who don’t believe women should be educated in 2014.”

“Personal, funny, touching, emotive, wonderful, a total joy!”

“Absolutely wonderful, amazing experience. Loved everything about it; wonderful concept and great actors.”

“Great idea – let’s have more!”

“Excellent performances – so interesting. Would be a great performance at schools to remind young girls of the amazing women of the past whose shoulders we stand on.”

“Really enjoyed it! More promenade shows in public buildings! More shows promoting equality!
Very good. Great use of a great space. More in here.”

“Wonderful to see so much talent and ideas in one night. More of this!”

“Really inspirational – moving.”

“Well done! It was brilliant. A stellar performance.”

“Brilliant to support such new creative artists! Please continue.”

“Excellent evening and venue.”

“I love the promenade experience. Brilliant venue and brilliant concept. If this can be done in 3 months on a small budget, who needs big productions? Not me.”

“Wonderful, evocative, new meaning to promenade experience due to the magnificent setting.”

“I felt privileged to be in such a powerful historical setting and there was an intimacy to the experience.”

“The performances and setting – stunning.”

“Please keep providing opportunities for emerging women artists. Thank you!”

There were some comments on the sound problems due to the setting and quite a few people asked why there were only two performances. We are pleased, however, that for a first attempt at a site specific project on a small budget in such a magnificent building the majority of the experiences were positive and encouraging. Thanks to everyone who took time to engage with us. It really helps us for future projects. Thanks also to everyone at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery that helped make this happen.

Pauline Lockhart: Dora Carrington’s portrait of Lytton Strachey #2

Okay, I’ve made a start on the face. I’m used to painting faces of people I know, and using my knowledge of the person, when painting their face. It’s really hard painting someone I don’t know at all. It’s so difficult to limit myself to just copying, I keep wanted to change bits! I want paint the hair differently, but I have to be disciplined.

Pauline Lockhart: Dora Carrington’s portrait of Lytton Strachey #1

As part of my performance for Untaught to Shine, I wanted to be painting Dora Carrington’s portrait of Lytton Strachey. I decided to paint most of it in advance, then finish it off during the performances. So, I’ve made a start! I’m using the same size canvas as the original, although it’s painted on board, and copying from a small postcard. The colours on every reproduction is different, so I’ve no way of knowing how close to the original this one is.

Untaught to Shine Blog – Victoria Beesley

Victoria Beesley

For some time now I have been frustrated by my own apathy. Feeling enfranchised but powerless, I can often be heard exclaiming, ‘But what can I do?’ at the end of frustrated rants.

So there was something about Caroline Norton that inspired me. Her portrait hangs in the Out of the Shadow exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh.

In 1855 Norton wrote a letter to Queen Victoria. She was already a renowned as a social reformer having campaigned for increased custody rights for mothers after her husband had forbidden her from seeing her own children. The campaign led to a law introducing custody rights for mothers in 1839.

Norton’s letter to the queen highlighted the hypocrisy of a female married woman being monarch of a country where married women were legally non-existent. Despite being estranged from her abusive husband, Norton had no legal power to divorce him and all her earnings and possessions were legally his property.

Norton’s letter, and accompanying long-running campaign, had influence. In 1857, women were given the right to divorce their husbands, and in 1870 women were given the right to keep their earnings. As a woman, Norton was not allowed to vote and she had very little legal status, but she worked hard to ensure she wasn’t powerless.  She did not entertain apathy.

So Norton’s action has prompted me to act. I have launched a project called ‘from her to her’ – a living archive of letters written from women to women.  My performance for Untaught to Shine is an extension of this new project. A chance to celebrate Norton’s activism, to celebrate the plethora of excellent female role models past and present, to prompt, challenge and laud women with influence. It is a call to action, a farewell to apathy.

To find out more about ‘from her to her’, and to contribute a letter to the project, please visit www.from-her-to-her.com 

Ishbel McFarlane – ART FACT. Thoughts on her project for Untaught to Shine

A project which is women-focussed, promoting women on stage and women’s stories. A project which allows me to be writer and performer. A project which lets me collaborate closely with one of my closest creative buddies. A project which allows me to use my neologism collabormates with impunity and not a little pride (shut up, haters). A project which is based in a gallery and involves the use of archives and art historical research. A project using, quite casually, Scots. That is what this project is.

‘Surely,’ you cry, ‘this is too representative of Ishbel’s deepest concerns and passions to be a real project – it must be science fiction.’ No, I tell you, it is not.

It is ART FACT.

After that enormous set-up, I think that Untaught to Shine might forever be called ART FACT somewhere in my heart.

A couple of years ago, when Stellar Quines sent out a questionnaire on women in Scottish theatre, I filled it out with a hooray in my heart. I’d say that about 23% of my conversations over the last four years have been about women on stage and film, whether we value women’s stories. It’s a real joy, then, to be involved in part of the outcome of the research that Stellar Quines commissioned back in 2010. I am working in partnership with Vanessa Coffey on a 10 minute piece for Untaught to Shine.

Vanessa and I trained together at that Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and have worked together a couple of times since then. We’ve had great fun putting together our idea for our slot. We decided to focus on a calotype of two fishwives by Hill and Adamson, those renowned early pioneers of photography in Scotland. The men took dozens of images of the fishing community in Newhaven. The fisherfolk there were regarded not only as distinctively picturesque, but they were seen as a model of utopian, working village life, in stark contrast to the privations and degredations of life in Edinburgh’s Old Town.

What particularly interested Vanessa and me about the women was the tradition of ‘chumming’, which they seemed to fall into. In Newhaven, from young childhood, two members of the same sex would pair off as partners for life. The first woman to marry would have the other as her bridesmaid, they worked beside each other, and they would walk the long way to Edinburgh together (carrying a hundredweight of fish on their backs – that’s eight stone – attached by a strap across their forehead). They chummed for company and for safety. They would support each other in times of joy and need. We wanted to explore that powerful model of female friendship and see how it compares to modern working women’s relationships.

Though we trained together in acting, Vanessa’s work since we graduated has focussed on the physical, with her own company merging verbatim theatre and dance, while my work has been more with words and poetry. It’s nice to feel, as we discuss female support historically and in our lives, that we are chumming each other with our different skills to make something neither of us could do alone. And that’s ART FACT.