FANS of Scot Squad know her as PC Jane Mackay – but Ashley Smith, the actor who plays her, has loftier matters than police patrols on her mind.

A self-confessed lover of the circus and hobby aerialist, she has written the script for a film that blends aerial, theatre and circus performance.

Filmed in Mull and New Zealand, Cailleach marks the debut of fledgling aerial performance company Sonder Circus and tells the story of an almost forgotten woman of Celtic folklore.

Originally conceived in 2019 as a live production, the pandemic saw Smith and her company co-founders Lauren Jamieson and Joanna Vymeris locked down in Glasgow, London and New Zealand, so they decided instead to make a film version of the show.

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“I enjoy reading Celtic mythology and listening to folk music, and being a hobby aerialist I had already been looking for ideas to combine my skills and experience in theatre with my love of circus, so it felt like a great match and opportunity,” said Smith.

“However, I was clear I didn’t just want to stand and speak some words whilst they performed in the air as, for me, the problem with aerial theatre I’ve seen is that regularly the story or narrative and the movement sit separately and feel disjointed.”

Wanting to find a way to blend them better, she began reading through her folktale books and searching Scottish folklore online until she came across the Cailleach.

“She is a goddess older than time and of whom very little is really known but who appears in songs, stories and poems across all of Celtic mythology and beyond,” said Smith.

The National: Cailleach.

Continuing her research, she saw similarities with the goddess Bride and incorporated her into the story.

“It meant Joanna and Lauren could each represent one of them but also come together at points to use their acrobatic skills and merge almost as one body,” said Smith.

It was decided the film should celebrate the landscape over which these goddesses were said to rule and Mull Theatre came on board to make it a co-production with the fledgling company.

The result can be viewed online from Wednesday.

Smith said that as a new company, the prospect of creating this first project was daunting enough without throwing a pandemic into the mix.

“At first, we weren’t sure how we could work internationally with Covid, seeing as one of our founding members was locking down in New Zealand,” she said.

“However, the location has provided us with an opportunity to show off the beauty and similarities which reside in both the Scottish and New Zealand landscapes and has given our film an international reach and feel, which has greatly complimented the story.

“With circus at the heart, we believe the physicality of our storytelling enhances the character and mythology of the goddesses Cailleach and Bride and, coupled with the backdrop of our wild locations, we hope we’ve captured a little of their magic too.”

The film can be viewed at Mull Theatre Online from September 1-11, at on a “pay what you decide” basis.