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Keara Murphy: Still Steaming Misogyny in Burns’ Supper Clubs in 2018

The Bard and I

Keara Murphy at a Burns SupperKeara Murphy has been hosting and speaking at Burns’ Suppers for around 20 years after a childhood trip with her father to the Burns Birthplace Museum, where she became transfixed by him.

Keara learned the poems, wrote speeches, sang the songs and when she grew up she hosted her own suppers at home, then hosted some in public venues and now she is hired to speak at Burns’ Suppers across the Globe – most recently in America, where she Addressed the Haggis and gave The Immortal Memory speech – both of which are traditionally addressed by a ‘male’ speaker. So, she has made some headway.

However, more often than not, there is open and blatant sexism in the content of the speeches that are given by the male speakers. The old jokes are alive and well in these circles and these men do not seem to know what they are doing wrong.

Keara avoids the cliché sexist jokes in her replies, preferring her personal stories about her family, comedy stories about the men in her life: her father, brothers, cousins and some romantic comic tales from her dating experiences. She also speaks on behalf of the women in Burns’ life who did not have a voice of their own in their day.

However, standing up on a high plinth, close to midnight, after all the male speakers had finished insulting her, and all the other women in the room, Keara must keep a lid on her anger after the hours of patronising sexist cliché’s she has had to sit through before she can then reply.

Keara with cast of Robert Burns skullFor the first time, Keara will speak out about this misogyny in her brand-new show at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh, entitled, ‘The Bard and I’.

The production, at the Centre on Fri 26 January at 7.30pm, charts Keara’s journey from those childhood visits to Burns Cottage with family, to speaking publicly at Burns Suppers, as well as making a string of documentaries for BBC Scotland, charting the bizarre and obscure areas of the poet’s life, which were well received and picked up as BBC Radio 4's Pick of The Week. You can listen into Keara's latest BBC Radio Scotland recording, 'The Death and Resurrection of Robert Burns' today at 1.30pm or catch up here.

On Friday evening, for the live show, Keara will be joined by fellow female performers, Pauline Vallance singing a range of Burns' songs accompanied by the clarsach, and actress Heather Roberts, sharing short monologues and poetry.

Keara Murphy: The Bard and I

Fri 26 Jan | 7.30pm (1hr) | £10 (£8)

Keara also runs Blue Eyed Lassie Productions which focuses on female-led stories.