The Scotsman Sessions #303: Patrick Wallace

Welcome to the award-winning Scotsman Sessions. With the performing arts sector still impacted by the pandemic, we are commissioning a series of short video performances from artists all around the country and releasing them on, with introductions from our critics. Here, actor Patrick Wallace performs a betting shop-set monologue by Mikey Burnett, whose play The Bookies, co-written with Joe McCann, opens at Dundee Rep in May

No matter how gifted or well qualified, freelance theatre workers often need a second career to help keep the wolf from the door; and never more so than in the two years since the pandemic struck. Patrick Wallace, the actor featured in this week’s Scotsman Session, may have chalked up screen appearances in Outlander, and a series of successful stage roles on the Edinburgh Fringe and elsewhere; he also features in the National Theatre of Scotland and Selkie Productions’ exciting hybrid version of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde, set to appear in cinemas and at Edinburgh’s Leith Theatre at the end of February.

Yet for all that, Wallace still has a “day job” at the Glasgow Science Centre, where he helps to produce podcasts on major scientific topics; and this experience of a double professional life is one he shares with Edinburgh-based playwright Mikey Burnett, who works as a manager for a major UK bookmaker, when not otherwise engaged on theatrical work. Burnett’s experience in book-making forms the backdrop to his new black comedy The Bookies, co-written with his friend Joe McCann, which is set to appear at Dundee Rep in May; and it has also inspired the gorgeous short monologue that forms this week’s Scotsman Session, an autobiographical piece about Burnett’s experience of retraining as a betting-shop manager after being laid off for a while, and about the woman, his boss Ashleigh, who somehow makes that training course an absolute joy for him.

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Patrick Wallace was born in Fife in 1992, and fell in love with theatre and music at an early age, acting at school and with the local youth theatre in Aberdour, and playing cello and guitar. After school, he spent two years studying drama at Coatbridge College, before accepting a place on the Acting For Stage And Screen course at Napier and Queen Margaret Universities in Edinburgh, which he describes as outstanding, in the quality of training it offered. He graduated in 2014, and followed his fiancee’s job to Portsmouth; but after the EU referendum of 2016 they returned to Glasgow, where they are based today.

“All through my acting career so far, I’ve loved working with Mikey Burnett,” says Wallace. “I just think he’s one of the finest writers we have, and I loved appearing in his Fringe show Lace Up, for instance, set in the world of boxing. I’ve also loved some children’s theatre work I’ve had the chance to do – with Catherine Wheels Theatre, for example, in Rosalind Sydney’s Speed Up.

“And yes, I am still interested in music, my other art-form. I play lead guitar for a Glasgow band called Cloud House, and we’ve just played a couple of successful nights at King Tut’s, as well as looking forward to our first festival appearance later this year. So it’s a busy time, at the moment, and an interesting one; and I’m just very grateful to my employers at the Science Centre for giving me the flexibility to work there when I can – and to take up these exciting opportunities in theatre and music, whenever they appear.”

Jekyll And Hyde is at Leith Theatre from 25-27 February, and live-streamed to cinemas across Scotland on 27 February. The Bookies is at Dundee Rep, 3-21 May.

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