November 26, 2018

11 Questions with EMILIE ROBSON

"What do I value most in life? Art, expression, equality and carrot cake of course."

- Emilie Robson

We caught up with Emilie Robson, writer and John Byrne Award entrant, to talk about finding magic in the mundane, saving Leith Walk, and the importance of morning mimosas.

Emilie co-wrote the play Moonlight on Leith with her writing partner Laila Noble. Together they form Clarty Burd Theatre Company.


In your recent John Byrne Award entry, you explored the question ‘What is the role of community in an individualistic culture?’ Why did you choose to focus on this topic?

Prior to writing the play, we attended a Save Leith Walk meeting to oppose a proposed demolition on Stead’s Place, in Leith. We arrived early to find a relatively small turnout and sat near the front. Soon the compere was ushering hoards of people, standing at the back, to fill up the few remaining seats. The theatre was completely packed and on a ‪Friday night, no less.

We were astounded by the number of people and the momentum of the movement. Community was alive and well within our city and we decided to pay homage to the individuals within it.

When and how did you start writing plays?

Laila and I both dabbled in playwriting at university, where we met. We have written several plays independently however, we find we write better together.

Why do you continue to do it now?

Good question, it doesn’t pay the rent! In all seriousness, we hope we have something to say and an interesting way of saying it. We’ll stop when our audiences disagree.

Where do you get your creative inspiration?

It’s a complete cliché to say everywhere but, everywhere. We like to find the magic in the mundane and the beauty in ordinary people. Failing that, wine inspires.

What do you value most in life?

Art, expression, equality and carrot cake of course.


What impact is your work having/ would you like your work to have?

We like to make theatre accessible to all, particularly those who it wouldn’t normally appeal to. One of the best parts of our recent Edinburgh fringe run was the positive response from locals who had never seen a play before. We hope we continue to make work that reflects the world back at the community who inspired it. And that they continue to enjoy it.

Who do you admire and why?

The people at the campaign, still sticking it to the man against all odds. They’re awe inspiring.

Describe yourself and your creative work in one sentence?

We are passionate, compassionate and fiercely feminist.

Recommend us something to read, watch or visit, please. Can you tell us the story behind why you’d recommend it?

Other than Moonlight On Leith obviously, Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas. That play is a huge source of inspiration for us. We bonded at university over our mutual love of Thomas so we owe our friendship and creative partnership to that masterpiece.

What do you think of The John Byrne Award?

The JBA encourages artists to ask big questions of their work and of the world around them. We think it’s a fantastic opportunity for young artists to showcase their work and be recognised.

What would you do if you were president of the world for one day?

A universal basic income and obligatory morning mimosas.

Is there anything else that you would like to say?

Keep your eyes peeled for us if you’re ever at the Fringe. We’ll be the loud ladies banging a drum.


You can view Emilie’s latest John Byrne Award entry here, or share your own work to be in with a chance of winning the annual £2500 prize.