Cutty Sark

Poetry-dance piece developed on commission from the Scottish Storytelling Centre and Edinburgh City of Literature for their Figures of Speech event series running throughout Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022. Each event focuses on a theme within Scottish lit (music, friendship, future, love, place, big ideas) and features a conversation between two experts in the field, plus a newly commissioned live performance responding to the theme. I was commissioned for the May 2022 Figures of Speech: Music event, also featuring a conversation between Nicola Meighan and Arusa Qureshi.

I chose to flesh out the narrative of Nannie Dee: the infamous ‘Cutty Sark,’ from Robert Burns’ notorious poem “Tam O’Shanter.” I’m fascinated by how she’s portrayed in this classic piece: wholly objectified, infantilised, sexualised, and made dangerous through these qualities. So, of course, I knew I wanted to twist the narrative by telling her side of the story! My performance embodies Nannie Dee to consider how women in music have often been sexualised and vilified through Scotland’s cultural history.

You can watch the original performance via the SSC’s YouTube channel. This piece was reprised for Aberdeen Performing Arts in September 2022.

Performing ‘Cutty Sark’ with Aberdeen Performing Arts, Sep. 2022. Credit: Newsline Media.