A new animation by north-east writer Morna Young explores how attitudes towards the Scots language could be a barrier for some career aspirations.
Stella tells the story of a feisty 15-year-old with a big dream of becoming an astronaut to look down on the “totty wee planet”.
However, when the teen meets stuffy career advisor Mrs Berk she is told to “talk properly” while trying to be talked out of her seemingly impossible dream.
‘People think she obviously can’t be intelligent’
Morna Young, who grew up in Burghead, wrote the animation of the youngster to explore class divides before also incorporating Scots language.
She said: “Everyone thinks it’s impossible this quiney from the north-east is going to be an astronaut.
“But she’s got this absolute determination about her, it doesn’t matter what anyone says, she absolutely believes it’s possible despite having no money to go to flight school.
“I started to play with the language of people in the script because she speaks Scots she gets people telling her to speak properly because they think she obviously can’t be intelligent”
Through the eight-minute tale, Stella is repeatedly told that teenagers growing up in their community have no hope of becoming astronauts – likening the aspiration to becoming a fairy.
And when launching into orbit does not appear on the tick list of possible careers, the academic and athletic girl is instead urged to become a science teacher.
Scots writing explores ‘language attitudes’
Morna, 37, said: “Writing in Scots for me links to authenticity. If I was writing something set in the north-east and it was in English, it wouldn’t feel representative for me.
“It’s a real chance for me to delve into language attitudes and the whole notion of ‘speak properly’.
“This is an incredibly smart and bright girl who just so happens to be a Scots speaker and her ambitions are being quashed because of where she’s from.”
Morna has been writing plays staged across the country for the last 10 years.
In 2019 she was named Scots Writer of the Year at the inaugural Scots Language Awards.
Her play Lost at Sea, which was a personal tale of trawlermen risking their life at sea, toured across Scotland.
Stella is part of a series of work, Braw Tales, being published online by Mull Theatre every day this week, featuring some of Scotland’s most talented writers and animators.
Mull Theatre director Beth Morton said explained the series hoped to create opportunities for freelance artists during the pandemic in a “fun and joyful” way.
She said: “It was also really important that we were, once again, making something a bit different and playing with the mediums we use to tell stories.
“Animation seemed like an exciting and fitting route to go down as we can be playful and inventive with how we tell these hopeful, warm, and often pretty bonkers, stories.”