Fringe 2017: Jacqueline Harris Q&A

How would you describe your show in one sentence?

A storyteller’s dream of living on a Scottish island comes true. Through live storytelling, peep-boxes and projection, imagination and reality collide as ancient tales of boggarts and mermaids hold hands with contemporary accounts of supernatural landscapes against a backdrop of broken down ferries and the Mackerel Lottery.

Is this a new show or have you performed it elsewhere?

The Headless Woman and Other Delights is a new show premiering at the Scottish Storytelling Centre.

Is this your first visit to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

This is the first time we’ve brought a show to the Fringe, and in the light of previous experience as audience members, we’re expecting a colourful, exhausting, endlessly fascinating time with new people to meet (no idea who…) and new things to do (no idea what…) as well as an exciting new show to run. Lots of new!

How have you been preparing for the Fringe? How has the show developed/changed since your original idea?

The old selkie stories of Scotland led me into storytelling in the very beginning. When I moved to the Isle of Arran in 2012, it didn’t escape my notice that the island had its very own ‘Selkie Wife’ story. In developing this show, I also realised that some of the most fascinating contemporary supernatural stories I had heard were also from the island. The final ‘aha’ moment was when I realised that my life on Arran was all mixed up with these stories, the same waves lapping at my feet as those that lapped at the tail of the mermaid of Corriecravie. Somehow all of this fell into the pot on the stove and came out looking like The Headless Woman and other Delights.

What do you think sets your show apart from all the other Festival offerings?

While I tell the stories, Marjan Wouda’s peep boxes pepper the room. These are brought to life with torches, offering audience members their own private, magical, interactive light shows. Small sculptures sit on tables to be picked up and handled. Marjan’s wild landscapes and figures are projected onto the walls, the animations by Adam York Gregory.

Jacqueline HarrisWhat’s the show that you don’t want to miss at this year’s Fringe?

We’re really looking forward to seeing Alan Bissett’s (More) Moira Monologues. One morning in 2012, I was commandeered at the last minute to drive my son from Lancashire up to Gatehouse of Fleet where he needed to be at an archaeological dig. Having dropped him off I wondered what to do with myself. Wandering into town, I couldn’t believe my luck: a Literature Festival was underway. During a heady day of unexpected pleasures, I wandered into a stately room where a young man was about to perform The Moira Monologues, against rose covered walls and chintz curtains. They said it would be funny. We all know how that can turn out. “Ah well”, I thought, “Anything goes today.”  It did make me laugh. Lots. It also made me care, in that wonderful “Hey, we’re all in this together just trying to get by” kind of way. Since then I have pestered many people to do themselves a favour: watch clips on YouTube, read the script, or best of all go and see it for themselves.

If your show was a place in Edinburgh, which place would it be and why?

The seating outside Peter’s Yard on a sunny day: everyone chatting to each other, sharing their stories.


A tiny but very specific bit of Arthur’s Seat, that mass of story rock which is often invisible from the streets, popping in and out of view as we scurry along the pavements.

The Headless Woman and Other Delights

Tue 8 – Sat 12 Aug
1.30pm (1hr)
£9 (£7) (£40 family) (£6.50 SCS)
2 for 1 Tue 8 Aug

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