Preview: O is for Hoolet

An award-winning, one-woman show about the Scots language pays a two-night visit to the Borders next week.

Tuesday, 26th April 2016, 9:22 am
Updated Tuesday, 26th April 2016, 10:27 am
Ishbel McFarlane's O is for Hoolet explores the Scost language. Photo by Irene McFarlane

O is for Hoolet is the brainchild of performer, writer and director Ishbel McFarlane which uses stories, memories, interviews and attitudes to challenge expectations and prejudices around minority languages.

Isabel McFarlane says: “Most of the world are essentially Scots speakers, people brought up using a language which is considered ‘lesser’ than the ‘real’ language of state.

“I want to encourage conversations about Scots language, and minoritised cultures.

“Why is it we put language varieties into a hierarchy? Why do we think a ‘language’ is better than a ‘dialect’? Why do people who would never discriminate against someone for the colour of their skin, openly discriminate based on their word-choice?

“I love to talk, and, delightfully for me, talking is a vital part of the solution.

“I’ve had people come up to me after shows to tell me that everything I said applied directly to their experience of northern France, or urban Boston. We think we’re in a unique situation, but we’re really not.”

Ishbel explores these ideas in a lively and detailed performance, portraying several historic Scottish figures and linguistic experts from Liz Lochead to Robert Burns. Audience members, prompted by a televisual bingo caller, read prompt cards addressing those famous alter egos and McFarlane at various stages and ages in her life.

The revelations and stories challenge how we view the Scots language, and the ways in which it is taught and subdued to question the way forward for minority languages.

O is for Hoolet is on at the MAcArts Centre, Galashiels, on May 5 at 7.30pm. Tickets costing £9 (£7 concs) are avialble from the box office on 01896 756852, or at

It will then show on May 6 at the Eyemouth Hippodrome, Harbour Road, Eyemouth, at 7.30pm. Tickets, costing £8 (£6 concs) are avialable on 01890 750099 or at

This show is suitable for ages 14+.