Charlotte Mclean on touring Futuristic Folktales

Photo: Simon Fuchser

From a concept by Charlotte Mclean, who also directs the piece, Futuristic Folktales tells the momentous tale of the first womb, humbly attempting to unify humanity through the infinite narrative of birth. Using contemporary, breaking and Scottish Highland dance, this experimental dance theatre production questions the preservation of tradition, myth, and identity whilst scrutinising borders, body politics and reproductive injustice.

It features writing from Nelly Kelly, compositions from Malin Lewis and is performed by Astro Scheidegger and Orrow Bell. Ahead of a tour that takes in Dundee, Bern, London and Glasgow, we heard from Mclean about the inspiration for the work.

Q&A with Charlotte Mclean

What can you tell us about Futuristic Folktales?

Futuristic Folktales is a mix of theatre, contemporary dance and Scottish Highland dancing. There are two performers on stage, both with different backgrounds in dance, Astro is a break dancer and Orrow trained in contemporary. Throughout the show, both share the story of the first womb with the audience, inviting them to experience the different worlds inside the work. We don’t know the story of the first womb and we don’t pretend to know but we imagine this creation narrative and what the future of may be. What folktales will our children tell of the year 2024?

What was it that inspired the show?

After creating my solo And, I wanted to make a work with other people. My in-studio and performance practice is all related to wombs & I wondered what relationships other people had with this word. I was interested in working with many people with varying perspectives on human reproduction to see how wombs and this discourse of reproductive rights, body politics and identity played a role. Throughout the process, we’ve come to proclaim that the only inherent thing that brings us altogether, is that we were all born from a womb.

The production in rehearsals. Photo: Amy Sinead Photography

How does it feel to be taking the show on a tour visiting national and international locations?

I have a close connection to all performance locations. I first studied at Dundee and Angus College, where we will host our preview performance at The Space in Dundee, before heading down London Contemporary Dance School. We will perform at The Place in London which is the theatre connected to the school, so it’s feels great to have the commission and support from them. We’ll also perform at Tojo Theatre in Bern, which is where I have performed the most since graduating in 2017. I began working for a dance theatre company in Bern and it’s been important to bring my own work to the city of Bern, a place I got stuck in during COVID and have worked in for so long. We’ll also be touring to Tramway and this is a new connection – we’re excited by this and look forward to meeting the Glasgow audiences at the end of the tour before heading to the fringe at Dance Base in August.

How has the rehearsal process been so far?

A mixture of knowing everything and knowing nothing but having the trust and support of the collaborators has been second to none. Since 2022, we have worked with many different artists to research the show. It’s been important to gain different perspectives on the themes of the work, from many different humans, as essentially it’s about the hope we have for the future. The lighting, sound, text, dramaturgy and costume all play an equally important role as the choreography. I like to imagine all of these elements as narrators of the show too, all working together to share the story of the first womb.

Is there anything you hope audiences take away from the show?


I’d like audiences to go away from the show remembering that we are one tiny moment in the span of a quite unremarkably long timeline. From the first ever womb, or whenever the earth began, to being here now, to the future and then back again. Why are we fighting? Why are we here? I’d like them to take a moment to be with strangers and friends, to notice their bodies, and the wombs around them, and appreciate the beauty, wonder and mystery of that. And to remember what brings us altogether: that we were all born from a womb.

Futuristic Folktales tours Dundee, Bern, London, Glasgow and Edinburgh from 5 to 27 April and Edinburgh from 13 to 18 August