Bullying of redheads inspires new touring cabaret show

There are more than half a million of them in Scotland - which has long boasted of being the ginger capital of the world.

REaD addresses prejudice and bullying that redheads face

The prejudice and bullying faced by redheads has inspired an all-female cabaret theatre show set in a “parallel world” where anyone sporting ginger hair is strictly segregated and under curfew.

It has been developed in Glasgow by director Allie Butler and three red-haired actors, Belle Jones, Sarah McCardie and Linda McLaughlin.

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REaD launch at Greenock’s Beacon Arts Centre next month after winning funding to the tune of £23,000 from national arts agency Creative Scotland.

The show focuses on three women who form a secret club as “an act of self-expression and resistance.”

Audiences will be treated to song, dance and performance poetry in the show, billed as “part catwalk, part political rally, part support group for underdogs everywhere.”

Its Fife-born creator, Allie Butler, says the show will be “a celebration of individuality, resilience – and the sheer joy of having red hair.” But she hopes the treatment of redheads in the production will also help highlight wider issues of discrimination and the modern-day treatment of women.

Ms Butler said the “feminist cabaret” show had been inspired by her own experiences and those of the actors, described as “delightful red-haired sirens” on the play’s posters.

She added: “We started talking in a sort of a jokey way if we had any common experiences that marked us out as being redhead. There were lots of funny stories about situations we had been in, but there was darker stuff as well about being bullied and picked on.

“I don’t think any of us would say it’s a show about redheads being a persecuted minority in a serious political way. But it’s come out of our experiences as women - it’s been an all-female show from the beginning.

“We were interested in creating a dystopian alternative reality, in which being a redhead is something that is ghettoised and persecuted. It is a parallel world where they are constantly in danger. The Scarlet Church is a club where they can go and feel safe.

“It has been decided that that minority is is going to be considered lesser and will be ghettoised and maltreated. That obviously has huge resonances. We’re not trying too hard to make that point, but it is definitely in there.”

REaD is in tour around Scotland from 13-21 May.