28th May 2024 7:30pm - 29th May 2024 9:00pm


28th May 2024 7:30pm - 9:00pm
Adult: £10 | Under 26: £5
Age: 14+
29th May 2024 7:30pm - 9:00pm
Adult: £10 | Under 26: £5
Age: 14+

There is a legend from my hometown, Ayr that a 17th-century witch built a house on the high street in just one night with the Devil’s assistance. Today, a quarter of the shops on Ayr high street are empty – the town holds one of the highest shop vacancy rates in Britain. The plot that the witch was said to have built on has always done alright though, Number 82 – Marks and Spencer.

With the support of Ayrshire Historian Halima Cambell, I’ve been unpacking this legend and discovered that, surprisingly, some of the story is true. It has at its centre a real woman, a 17th-century entrepreneur named Maggie Osbourne, who built and ran a successful business on that plot.

Maggie was responsible for bringing significant wealth and employment to (what was then) one of Scotland’s richest towns. Her skill, power, and the fact she was a woman didn’t go unnoticed, though, and she was executed as a witch on the high street just opposite her business, number 82.

The Legend has deep roots – Burns himself knew of Maggie. Halima has found a rare link from Yale Library, citing Maggie as the inspiration for Nancy the Witch, who chases Tam o’Shanter across the Doon River. It also has great resonance today, linking to the treatment of alternative thinkers and how many local community groups and councils struggle to understand and support innovative local business.

Maggie’s story deserves reconstruction. By doing so we will reckon with some major issues around the denouncement of the label ‘witch’, the treatment of women and those considered ‘other’ who gain power, corruption in business & governance, as well as genuinely asking the audience; what do you want from your highstreets and public centres?

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐           The Wee Review

⭐⭐⭐⭐ ½            The Quintessential 

⭐⭐⭐⭐                The Scotsman

⭐⭐⭐⭐                The Guardian

⭐⭐⭐⭐                Scots Gay Arts

Cowie’s storytelling is an entertaining thrill. She moves from the conversational to the comic to the otherworldly with ease, her tone of voice and physicality bringing to life a well-sculpted story…a purposeful examination of feminism, patriarchy and capitalism then and now.

                                            The Scotsman