Lesley Wilson: Perthshire Playwright

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Lesley Wilson has lived all over the UK - Dorset, Lanarkshire, West Lothian, Sutherland and Perthshire - which may be why she has developed such a wonderful sense of people, a skill that she uses to bring her characters to life.

Over the next two years she will be supporting the development of playwriting across Perthshire and will be working with artists, musicians and writers who want develop skills for theatre.

"The thing that I love about my work as a writer is that every day is different and no two weeks are the same. I have few different projects on the go at the moment and am currently working with Perth Theatre, Rivendell Care Home, Pitlochry Festival Theatre, Birnam Arts and The Playwrights Studio Scotland.

"In addition to working on my own ideas for plays I have been developing a play for Perth Theatre about the invisible army of older carers who tirelessly looked after loved ones at home. 

"Two days a week I work as a writer in residence at Rivendell Care Home and spend my time there listening to the stories of the individuals who live there and writing them up. I love this work and feel like I’m visiting my Grannie, the stories are amazing and at present I’m drawing them all together to publish in a book. I also developed some of them and created 2 plays which were shared at Birnam and Perth.

"Often the work of a writer is very isolated but one of the great things about writing for theatre is that you are part of a community of theatre makers and need to work with actors, designers and directors in order to get your play developed."


What signals the start of your days off?

My day off begins when the alarm doesn’t go off. I get my tea, my cereal and my book and get back into bed. Just now I’m reading the Testaments so I want every day to be a day off so that I can get back to it.

What might people be surprised to know about you?

My first job after school was as a Meteorological Officer which I left after 11 months, it was the most boring job I’ve ever had. The next day along with my friend who started the job on the same day as me we packed our bags and stuck our thumbs out. We ended up in Munich where we got jobs washing pots and peeling onions. It was fantastic fun and we earned more money there than we had as civil servants.

We packed our bags and stuck our thumbs out. We ended up in Munich where we got jobs washing pots.

What is at the top of your bucket list?

Top of my bucket list at the moment is a trip to the Arctic, before everything is gone. Iceland was the last tick on my bucket list as I wanted to see the Northern Lights but I loved it so much it’s now back on my list. A few years ago I took time out of work and went back packing and swam at the Great Barrier Reef, walked around Uluru and walked on the Great Wall of China.

What is the worst job you’ve ever had?

The hardest job that I ever did was working on a fun fayre when travelling in Australia. I worked on a stall ‘burst a balloon and win a prize’ For $2 customers got 3 darts and could win huge cuddly toys if they burst a balloon with a magic ticket behind it.

However there were no cuddly toy tickets behind the balloons only ticket for cheap trinkets. As the night went on customers got more drunk and more determined to win the big toys. I tried to quickly blow up more balloons and pin them on the board before they realised that they were being duped, but the angry customers grew impatient and threw their darts at me before I got out the way. I lasted two days before giving up and getting a safer job flipping burgers.

Who or what inspires you?

As a writer seeing or reading good work inspires me to write. For example I saw Heritage at Pitlochry Festival Theatre last week which is a beautifully written and directed play, work like this makes me want to write more. I also write poetry and am inspired by writers who draw from their own experiences, writers like Kevin Powers who served in the US Army and writes beautifully and poetically about his experience.

Tell us about the day you’d love to live again?

The day that I’d re-live is the day that I spent in the Bwindi Mountains in Uganda with the mountain Gorrillas. After climbing for hours high up into the mountains we came across a large group of gorillas who were at ease with our presence and allowed us to spend an hour in their company. Close enough to see the colour of their eyes and the lines on their hands these beautiful and peaceful beasts were as curious of us as we of them.

Seeing my work on stage in front of an audience is the most exciting and terrifying part of my work.

What’s the best part about your job?

Seeing my work on stage in front of an audience is the most exciting and terrifying part of my work. My play WIRED appeared at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2017 and 2018 and was my proudest moment so far. I also love when I get the chance to take a new idea for a play and retreat to a cabin in the woods to work on it without interruption, internet or people. Being lost in the work is one of the best times as a writer when the characters start to take over and you follow them without any idea where they will take you.

Complete this sentence; the best things in life are…

Moments spent in the wild when the sounds of traffic are gone and the birds sing happily in the background.

Where you’ll find me in Perthshire for:

• Eating and Drinking: Café Tabou is one my favourites, I love French food. The Watermill in Aberfeldy is perfect for lunch especially on a sunny day as they have a lovely outside space.

• An escape from it all: Walking in the hills and trails around Aberfeldy is great for refreshing the heart and soul.

• Shopping: My favourite shop is the Birnam Reader bookshop, great selection of second-hand books, coffee and the best cake in Perthshire.

• Relaxing: Reading a book at home or spending an evening at Perth Theatre or at The Birks Cinema in Aberfeldy.


Lesley will be joining the team as the artist in residence at WOW: What Now? on Saturday 5th October. All events are free to attend but you must book tickets to ensure you have a seat! There are three seperate events requiring booking with links below:

  1. Take One Action Film Festival : Book Here >>>
  2. The Big Thinkin including Christina McKelvie Keynote and WOW Bites : Book Here >>>
  3. The Saltire Society's Outstanding Women of Scotland : Book Here >>> 
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