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Discarded winter gloves kindle idea for one woman show

By Helen Paterson

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Jesse Paul brings some of the skills she learned in the circus as a teenager to her one-woman show.
Jesse Paul brings some of the skills she learned in the circus as a teenager to her one-woman show.

Jesse Paul brings some of the skills she learned in the circus as a teenager to her one-woman show.

AN arts worker who honed her skills as a teenager in the circus has written her own one-woman show.

Story-teller Jesse Paul also stars in "Handprints in the Snow", which will be performed at the Ironworks tomorrow in the first in a series of lunch-time productions.

The inspiration for the play came from gloves the arts worker for Eden Court Theatre found lying around Inverness — this winter she collected more than 100. She also found other bits and pieces including a cat mask, a pair of electrical pliers and a single Wellington boot.

The play tells the story of gloveologist Sadie, who uncovers stories behind the gloves she discovers.

It will be the first show in the Play Pieces series, which has been inspired by A Play, A Pie and A Pint, a successful lunchtime theatre event in Glasgow.

"The strange thing about it is that originally when I started to collect the gloves, I had planned to make a children’s show," Ms Paul said. "I ended up making a show that is very different."

She admits it has developed through rehearsals with director John Batty, who is Eden Court’s drama worker, and what she envisaged as being a comedy has changed quite a bit.

"It has been very hands-on," she said.

Performing and writing is nothing new to Ms Paul, but she admits she is still "petrified" about tomorrow’s show.

"I am hoping what I have made is an interesting piece of work," she said.

The arts worker comes from a family of performers — her father gave up a high-earning job in Cardiff to start a circus when she was just 13 years old and her six brothers and sisters all work in the arts.

She performed with her family in the circus until she reached her early 20s, doing everything from the trapeze and juggling to riding the unicycle.

"I was awful at all of them," she said. "I mainly did comedy performing, it was circus theatre, so that is telling a story, like a play, but using circus skills."

Today she still teaches circus skills occasionally.

"Working in the circus is really hard," she recalled. "It is seven days a week, working 12 hours a day.

"You live in the circus with everyone you work with. It is exhausting."

The circus toured all over the UK, including at Eden Court Theatre before it was refurbished, but by the age of 21, Ms Paul had had enough and "ran away" to study, first with a degree in drama and then later, a degree in creative writing.

The mother-of-two is writing her first fiction novel and dabbles with cabaret, but it was a visit to a story-telling festival in Wales which led to her chosen career as a story-teller. "I watched lots of story-tellers at the festival," she said.

"I have always been a word person. I thought, I could do that."

Ms Paul, who lives in Drummond Circus, Inverness, likes to bring performance to her story-telling and is well known for incorporating the ukelele and comedy into her act. As an arts worker at Eden Court for three years, she can incorporate all her skills into one job.

"My remit is to create and make theatre arts opportunities for young people within my areas, predominantly in schools and also within the community," she explained. "I do a lot of work by doing things that link in with play writing and story-telling."

Recently she has been working with one school to create Dr Who scripts and on animation with another.

"It is a brilliant job," she added.

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