Conversation With Cairney

Wherever he is in the world, John Cairney, actor, writer, Doctor of Philosophy andraconteur par excellence is never more at home than when he is standing on stage talking to an audience.

The title tells you exactly what the show is - a conversation between actor and audience. It is a happy construct of biographical and autobiographical anecdote, illustrated with verse and comic comment on his experiences in theatre, on film locations over the years and as a travelling actor who seems to have been everywhere.

During the evening, you'll get something from his one-man shows on Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, even William McGonagall. Cairney also dips into his vast bran tub of personal and professional recollections. There is a story from every production. John's recent academic adventures are also part of the mix,as Dr Cairney reveals the more esoteric strands of theatrical life and work. He's also inclined to extemporise freely on whatever subject arises in the moment springing from that instant communication that exists between actor and audience. It's the audience on the day who determines the excerpts, stories and comment. And since no two audiences are ever alike, nor are his performances.

As he says, 'This show has been a lifetime in rehearsal and I'll keep on doing it till I get it right.'

‘At Your Service’

The Service in this case is Robert William Service, a Glasgow-born bank teller, who became the poet of the Yukon and Scotland's answer to Mark Twain. Service was a compulsive versifier and had three volumes of verse to prove it. Service had no great literary aspirations. He considered himself the Poet Laureate of the ordinary man, and they repaid him by buying everything he wrote over a long life and a happy one. 

Ballads like The Shooting of Dan McGrew and The Cremation of Sam Magee were exactly to the taste of the pre-First World War, Edwardian world, and after it, his Ballads of a Red Cross Man and other compilations of verse made him a millionaire with homes in Paris and Hollywood. A most accessible writer, his first volume sold out even before it left the printers. The printers themselves bought out the whole run.

John Cairney has taken Robert Service from Scotland to New Zealand, also playing him in Canada and the United States.