Louise Haggerty left the classroom to act, but still has to convince one important person about her new career

LOUISE Haggerty thinks it's about time her mother came clean and told the truth.

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Louise Haggerty stars in Sunset Song with Peter Mullan and Agyness Deyn, as well as in play Early Doors
Louise Haggerty stars in Sunset Song with Peter Mullan and Agyness Deyn, as well as in play Early Doors

Less than 18 months out of drama school, school teacher turned actress Louise, from Kirkintilloch, is not only about to make her second appearance at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, she is getting ready to see herself on the big screen in director Terence Davies's Sunset Song.

"My mum still says I'm a teacher," she laughs, "once she sees the film she might change her tune."

The 30-year-old stars in the film adaptation of the classic Lewis Grassic Gibbon book, regarded as one of the most important Scottish novels of the 20th Century.

The story of a young woman's struggles growing up in a dysfunctional family, in a farming community, is set in the Howe o' the Mearns, in what was then Kincardineshire and now Aberdeenshire, and Louise went there, as well as to New Zealand for two weeks, to film scenes with co-stars Peter Mullan and Agyness Deyn.

"Terence has been wanting to do this film for a long time and I was actually cast in the role about two years ago," she reveals.

"I went for an audition with him and he offered me the part, which was wonderful. He's such a lovely man and excellent to work with."

Louise plays the role of Margaret Strachan, the friend of Chris Guthrie, played by Deyn, the English actress, supermodel and singer.

"We're at school together, then Margaret goes off to university because her father wants her to have an education which at that time was quite unusual for a young girl," explains Louise.

"She is quite free spirited and a bit more worldly wise in some ways than Chris; she teaches her a few things about life and boys, she's a bit of a joker and brings some light relief."

She adds: "I hadn't ever come across the book when I was at school but I read it as soon as I was in the running for the part.

"I loved it: the descriptions of the landscape, it is stunning and quite bleak at times but also beautiful.

"It is exactly like that in rural Aberdeenshire. The comparison with Chris's life and the struggles she is facing at the same time, and the land, is so much part of the book.

"The landscape is a stunning backdrop to the story and that is what Terence has managed to capture so well. I can't wait to see the final result."

BEFORE the film is released, Louise is heading to Edinburgh to tread the boards in a new comedy drama with a twist.

Early Doors is set in the famous Jinglin' Geordie pub, at 22 Fleshmarket Close. The cast take over the venue for an hour, serving behind the bar and selling tickets at the door while the fun unfolds around them in the story of a brother and sister who run a local pub.

The 11-strong ensemble piece has been written by Louise and some of her former student friends from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, in Cardiff.

"It is a celebration of community and that culture of coming together at the end of a long day to drink, to dance, to drown your sorrows, even to do a bit of karaoke," says Louise, who was one of five contributing writers.

"It's about how they all interact with each other and with the audience. My character is one of the locals who has come in on a night out, she's a bit mouthy and a bit sad but she is enjoyable to play."

To research the play and try out different ideas, they staged versions around the country, in Cardiff, Derby, Warrington and at the Vic Bar in the Tron Theatre, Glasgow.

"It really went down well with the Glasgow audience, especially with my family, they were vocal," laughs Louise.

"Some of the non-Scots in the cast were a bit shocked by how vocal it was.

"We want a natural reaction, we want people to - if they want - get up and go for a pint or go to the toilet. It's a working pub. This isn't a sit-and-be-acted- at piece.

"We have a pub quiz and the audience can do the quiz. I don't want to give too much away but it's not one of these things where people are forced to do things, all we ask for them is to enjoy it."

Louise made her first appearance at the Fringe two years ago in Unlucky for Some, a drama school production.

SHE recalls: "It was a great experience, it was tiring and it was only for a week so I don't know how a month with Early Doors is going to go."

Her days as a teacher at St Margaret's of Scotland Primary School, in Cumbernauld, seem a long way away. Her mother should be proud ...

l Early Doors, Jinglin' Geordie, 22 Fleshmarket Close, Edinburgh, July 30 to August 25 Visit www.pleasance.co.uk or www.edfringe.com

angela.mcmanus@eveningtimes.co.uk

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