Oh My God - I'm Scottish too!! (blog archive)


September 6th 2011 - January 16th 2012 This blog documents Oh My God - I'm Scottish too!!, an independent performance research project conducted by Rachael Clerke in the autumn of 2011 which aimed to examine and critique the nature of Scottish identity politics on both a personal and national level. This investigation resulted in the creation of three alter-egos as 'The Big Men of Scotland' (Alex Salmond, Donald Trump and William Wallace as portrayed by Mel Gibson in Braveheart), the publication 'Oh My God - I'm Scottish too!! (which can be viewed at the top of this blog) and a performance lecture entitled 'How to Achieve Redemption as a Scot through the Medium of Braveheart', which premiered at Glasgow Buzzcut festival on 17th March 2012.

20.

January 16, 2012
 

19. Future Braveheart

January 3, 2012
from Falmouth


The blog's quiet, and so am I - tucked away furiously writing and talking to myself (quietly, in the library) to get this presentation done. I'll post a full transcript of the talk up here once it's over for anyone who's interested. For now - here are some other places I would like to Braveheart.

1. Braveheart for Celtic fans
2. Braveheart at Stirling Bridge
3. Braveheart for tourists







Now I must get back to writing and talking to myself quietly.
 

18. Presentation

December 22, 2011

from Falmouth


So I'm now working on putting together my presentation for this project, which does not mean that it is the end by any means, but does mean that it is the end of my Contextual Enquiry Project, the module that this was for as part of my degree. There are 30 minutes, and although in many ways a traditional presentation, there is a considerable emphasis on the fact that this is a performance in its own right, incorporating engaging performative elements whilst getting the message across clearly and concisely. And if you think about it, 30 minutes is really concise for a project that has spanned ten weeks.

This is the running order that I'm working on at the moment. I am posting it up here for the simple reason that I quite like the way it reads.

SONG

WHAT I’VE HAD 

SCOTLAND – PROJECT BACKGROUND

ABOUT SCOTLAND AND NATIONALISM 

MOVING TO GLASGOW – THE START – BEING LOST

I WAS 14 AND THOUGHT I WAS SCOTTISH 

RESEARCH AND HALF ARSED ATTEMPTS AT BEGINNING

BACK FROM LONDON AND RUN AWAY TO ABERDEEN 

MAKE A MOCK NEWS REPORT

SHOW THE DONALD TRUMP FILM 

TALK ABOUT SELF IN ART (IT HAS TO BE ABOUT ME)

CINDY SHERMAN AND OTHER PEOPLE 

THE BIG MEN OF SCOTLAND IDEA

BECOME DONALD TRUMP 

SHOW THAT VIDEO IF ITS FINISHED

THAT IS SCOTLAND FOR ME BUT WHAT ABOUT OTHERS 

SO I WENT TO FIRST MINISTERS QUESTION TIME

BECOME ALEX SALMOND 

SHOW THE ALEX SALMOND FILM

TALK ABOUT WHY THAT WAS A BIT CRAP 

DISCOVERIES THAT I MADE

TALK ABOUT BRAVEHEART A WEE BIT 

BECOME WILLIAM WALLACE (AS PORTRAYED BY MEL GIBSON IN BRAVEHEART)

SHOW THE BRAVEHEART AT IBROX FILM 

THIS WORKS AND IS RELEVANT

IT HAS A FUTURE – EXPLAIN 

CONCLUDE

CYCLE OFF 

SHOW BRAVEHEART IN GARDEN FILM AND OUTSIDE PERFORMANCE CENTRE

COME BACK FOR QUESTIONS 

END

 

 

 

17. Being Alex

December 17, 2011
from Falmouth


On Thursday 24th November I came through to Edinburgh to go to 1st Ministers Question time at the Scottish Parliament. It’s not something I would recommend, as it gives one that uneasy feeling in the stomach that politics shouldn’t be like this. In a sentence, it’s a big, fat, snidey game and operates much like playground teasing and bullying.

That aside, it is quite entertaining – very entertaining, if you just enjoy the fact that these guys are putting on a bloody good show and don’t think about the fact that this is how your country is being run.

I was keen to find something that identified Alex Salmond, a way of typifying or caricaturing him. However, upon watching him in Parliament it is undeniable that he is a very astute politician. This is something I battle with. I dislike him because I dislike (however much of an open mind I have tried to keep throughout this project) nationalism. I think it is unimportant and blinds us to the things that are really important. Also, it unnerves me that the main objective of the SNP government is independence. It’s a bit like letting one of those single policy ‘Save Hartlepool Hospital’ parties run your country.

But the SNP have done good things. They have been a more successful government that Labour, and than the Lab-Lib coalition. They have gained popularity during their time in power, returning with a huge majority just this year. Whilst you can argue – and I would – that their main policy has failed, as there is now less support for independence, they have managed to maintain free university education, free healthcare for the elderly, no prescription charges and keep the EMA support for low-income 16-18 year olds. It’s a stark contrast to England.

So how can I be him? What is funny? What is poignant? 

I’m not sure I found it, performance wise. All I could really find to draw on was Salmond’s annoying habit of answering every question with the umbrella ‘for the benefit of the Scottish people’, that and his absolute confidence in the fact that life will be better after independence. Which isn’t particularly clever/complex/brilliant to be honest. 

Fereuse and Frazer came to parliament with me and we conducted a series of interviews, with the premise that they can ask any question and I will answer with, “for the benefit of the Scottish people” or “independence”. It was quite good fun, but windy and cold and we giggled a lot. This is a lazy edit for a bit of a lazy performance, as I need to play with the sound lots to get it all working with the questions in it etc. Sigh.

 

 

What I did enjoy, however, was becoming Alex Salmond visually and I have some great photos of that (see post below). In caricature it is all about finding the distinctive features and playing on them: in this case Salmond’s distinctive jowly face and large eyebrows. That and the fact that he is a wee fat man. It made me realise that actually, the physical appearance of Salmond is probably the most ridiculous thing about him. It’s something I’ve really enjoyed about this project, the Cindy Sherman-esque becoming of someone else and have been surprised at how malleable my face is. My voice, not so, but I can work on that.

So all in all, not my greatest piece of work during this project for a number of reasons. Big Man of Scotland number three, I hope I do you more (and less) justice next time. Feedback greatly appreciated. x

 



 

16. Ibrox Braveheart/Jacobite Scum

December 16, 2011

from Falmouth


Saturday 3rd December, 2pm (for 3pm kick-off). Ibrox Football Ground, Glasgow. Rangers vs Dunfermline. Sleet. Braveheart speech: The Scottish Army – Rangers football fans, Mel Gibson/Braveheart – Rachael Clerke, Filmed by John Rooney.

 

 

Performing at Ibrox was perhaps the most important thing I have done during this project. It was also bloody scary, bloody cold and probably a bad idea.

The original premise was to take the Braveheart speech to a place – a football ground in this case – where groups of men congregate, who could be William Wallace’s army. The speech was chosen due to it representing a total stereotype of the Scottish people, and being our ‘export product’ ie. How much of the world thinks of Scotland. The Braveheart speech was not chosen because of its links with the current debate about independence. Which to me, now, seems crazy. What a ripe example of the length of this battle! What a strong political view!

(Basically, I feel like a bit of a plonker for realising this as a secondary thing, rather than it being the whole reason all along.)

Anyway, all well and good. Here are big groups of Scottish men. Here I am, on my bike, with my facepaint.

However, Rangers may not have been the best team to pick, had I wanted a nice apolitical rendition of the speech, in a modern setting, with enthusiastic fans keen on supporting a young artist etc etc ad finitum. Celtic, maybe. Hibs, definitely. Rangers… well. I did my thing. And:

 

“God Save the Queen”

“Jacobite Scum”

*spit*

“Fenian Bastirt”

 

To understand this really, if you don’t know Glasgow, it’s good to do a bit of reading around sectarian violence and rivalry between Celtic and Rangers FC. Brief as can be, whilst Celtic is traditionally a team for Irish or Irish descendent Catholics, Rangers is a Protestant team. And they hate each other, in a big scary way. Rangers supporters are (and I’m generalising here) Unionists/Anti-independence. Monarchists.

There is a strong sense of us and them. Over the years its become very tied up in the Northern Irish conflict, as one of the only places in the UK (the only?) with strong evidence of a modern day sectarian divide out with Ireland.

Because I was shouting about Nationalism and Independence, I was therefore in their eyes, the enemy. I was a Celtic supporter, I was anti-monarchist, I was a Fenian, Irish and a catholic. Whilst William Wallace was certainly Catholic, because everyone was at that time, and was anti-monarchy in that he wished for Scotland to be free of British Royal rule, he was not Irish, and certainly not a ‘Fenian’ – a phrase that only came about in the late 19th Century. The point is, it doesn’t matter. He, and I in that case, was ‘other’, was ‘them’. Wikipedia has this to say about the use of the word: 


The term Fenian is used similarly in Scotland. During Scottish football matches it is often aimed in a sectarian manner at supporters of the Celtic F.C..[12] Celtic has its roots in Glasgow's immigrant Catholic Irish population and the club has thus been associated with Irish nationalism. Other Scottish clubs that have Irish roots, such as Hibernian and Dundee United, do not have the term applied to them, however.[13] The term is now firmly rooted within the Old Firm rivalry between Celtic and Rangers, as a rivalry between "orange and green" has been replaced by one between "blue and green".


after cycling home.


I have never before been spat at.

I certainly didn’t expect people to be so angry. I can’t imagine anyone giving the film Braveheart enough credence to be angry about it. For one, it is incredibly historically inaccurate.

However, nastiness aside, people did join in – I got my army, and they cheered, if not in quite the same bloodcurdling way as the extras in Mel Gibson’s movie. A man asked to get his photo taken with me. Children watched on with curiosity.

They knew what I was doing, and whilst perhaps they didn’t all agree, many could see the funny side of what I was doing. Everyone knows the film, knows the speech. And really, it’s questionable whether or not I am promoting independence and Scottish nationalism by making this speech, as there is such a ridiculous element to the whole performance (I’m a girl, I’m on a bike, it’s stupid) that I could just as well be doing the opposite.

This is exactly the fine line between satire and controversy, stupidity and political shit-stirring that I wanted to create with this whole project. It’s the only time I have succeeded. It wasn’t a good performance, more of a rehearsal, and the film is ropey with bad sound. I cut the speech short because I was too scared to drag it out. 

It’s the thing that tells me this project has only just started. But I’ve got to find a way to end it, that is less clumsy than simply removing myself from the context…


p.s. William Wallace wasn't a Jacobite, he was about 400 years too early for that. But it is a brilliant insult.



 

15. A day in the life of Alex Salmond (photos and storyboards)

December 16, 2011
from Falmouth


words and film to come later.


 



 





photos by Fereuse MacDonald - www.fereusemacdonald.com
 

14. The Magic of Scotland

December 15, 2011
from the London to Falmouth train



An episode that I never got round to writing about…

On Saturday the 19th of November, I attended the Pavilion theatre in Glasgow to see The Magic of Scotland. Here is the blurb from their website:

“We make no apology for any nostalgia contained in this great show, now in its seventh year, The Magic of Scotland returns with a Brand New Production to the Pavilion Theatre Glasgow from 17th - 19th November.”

I shall do my best to paint the scene for you. The pavilion theatre is a grand old slightly battered looking red sandstone building right in the centre of Glasgow, just off Sauchihall street. Going inside, one walks up the gold banister’d sticky velvet staircase to the muffed sound of hits such as ‘The Skye Boat Song’ and ‘Donald Whaur’s yer Troosers’. My allocated seat is a good one, on the front row of the balcony, and I only have to upset three people to get to it.

It is around this point that I realise I am the only person in the audience under seventy who is not accompanied by a carer. ‘Great!’ I think. ‘This is Scotland. These are the people that love Scotland, I’ve found them!’

Actually, I don’t think this at this point, because I am instead thinking that this show is going to be very, very bad. And very, very long (if you use the logic that pensioners would not be willing to pay £12 for a ticket unless they are going to get at least two hours of entertainment out of it).

Am I being ageist? Probably. Snobby? Definitely. Am I wrong?

No, I am very, very right.

The three hour tirade began with accordionist John Carmichael and his band, all in kilts, blasting out a few reels and jigs for the too-old-for-a-ceilidh audience. This was followed by a lone piper, and the only woman who performed the whole show, and we were then greeted by our host. The formidable Alastair McDonald who must be somehow famous, to this audience at least, in Tartan trews and lurid shirt he introduces ‘Clanadonia’, otherwise known as ‘those hairy guys in kilts who busk on Buchannan street at the weekend’. There’s probably not much point in mentioning the rest of the event, as it all involved combinations of the above. Lots of tartan, accordion and bagpipes.

So aside from the fact that it was all awful, why is it relevant? Well, because as far as I can work out here were the generation who felt some sort of identity with this classic ‘couthy’ Scottish-ness. Whilst most Scots would testify that they love a good ceilidh, a drinking and dancing type event, I think you won’t find so many who are keen on singing along to the Barras song and I’m a cat, I’m a cat, I’m a Glesga Cat on the same night. But sing along they did, and it did remind me of this tradition that does exist in Scotland, where we do all know these songs, and these dances. Even I know all these songs, and I don’t know many songs.

So have I found it? The tender bit of meat, the heart of it all? Probably not. But – a  viable format for my presentation?? What do you think? I’m willing to give it a shot.

It’s all going to kick off with coloured lights, a kilt, a microphone and – of course – Dougie MacLean’s Caledonia. Curious? Its at 9am on Thursday 5th January. Let me know if you want to come.*




*whoever ‘you’ are, oh mysterious readership of the internet, I bow to you  etc etc ad finitum blah blah blah



 

13. I AM Donald Trump

December 5, 2011
from Edinburgh



Dear friends, 

You'll be pleased to know that I have now inhabited the life of Donald Trump; on Donald Trump's golf course, wearing Donald Trump's red baseball cap and Donald Trump's face. 

It happened on Thursday the 1st of December on The Great Dunes of ScotlandTM near Balmedie, Aberdeenshire. Donald Trump was accompanied by his assistant, Blair Bowman, who also interviewed him, and held the camera, and drove, and was an all round good guy.


Feel like you missed out on this historic event
™? Here's a photo.


Still feel like you missed out? The video of this historic eventTM will be released in the next few days. Unfortunately my film-editing-machine (computer) has decided to stop working, so everything is a bit delyed.
 

Also, unfortunately, some of the security staff on the Great Dunes of ScotlandTM seem to be unable to spot Donald Trump despite being employed by him, and asked Trump to remove himself from the site - how embarrassing! Needless to say these staff are no longer in my employ.

Good night.x

(p.s. Sorry, I had to do it.)




 

12. Getting out there.

November 30, 2011
from Aberdeen



I'm too lazy to type this up... also, if I don't, you get the benefits of my lovely drawings of Donald Trump. So there.





Watch this space for videos soon. Over and out.




 

11. Scot-hate

November 20, 2011

from Glasgow


Excerpt from Hotel Caledonia, scene 5
Peter Arnott, Alan Bissett, David Greig, Rona Munro, Morna Pearson & Alan Wilkins

-----

Svetlana: But I thought Scotland hated England?

Manager: Aye they do, but that’s just a pastime. Scots save their real venom for other Scots.

Svetlana: Explain.

Manager: Right, well, the Huns hate the Tims and the Tims hate the Huns. The Highlands hate Glasgow and Glasgow hates –

Svetlana: The Highlands?

Manager: Edinburgh.

Svetlana: Does Edinburgh hate Glasgow?

Manager: Naw, Edinburgh hates tourists. The Scots who stay hate the Scots who leave. The Scots who leave hate the Scots who stay. Scottish Scots hate the wans who sound English. Anglo Scots hate the wans who sound Scottish. (…)

Svetlana: This is more complicated than I thought.

Manager: Ye’ll get the hangay it. Let’s try a wee test. What school did you go to?

Svetlana: Saint Peter’s.

Manager: So you were home-educated! How interesting.

Svetlana: No, I said –

Manager: What football team do you support?

Svetlana: Moscow Dynamo.

Manager: Ah, Partick Thistle! They’re doing well in the league. What do you think of Scotland’s chances in the World Cup?

Svetlana: Shit.

Manager: Correct. You’ll be fine. (Exits.)



 
 





© Rachael Clerke 2011-2014

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