actor - writer - artist - theatre maker
Rowan is a Scottish actor, performer, visual artist, and writer of poetry and script.Rowan is a 2021 graduate of Acting and Performance at Dundee & Angus College, and has developed and delivered a variety of workshops including improvisation, clowning, science communication, and sex education.Rowan's writing explores themes of asexual terror, childhood and transformation.
They have been performing spoken word since 2014, and in 2019 appeared at the UK Asexuality Conference in Edinburgh and at Generator Projects, Dundee. Rowan has also been a panellist at Aberdeen University’s Queer Creators Panel for the 2020 WayWORD Festival.In their visual art practice, Rowan's mixed-media work includes collage, sculpture and vast quantities of glitter in a genre they describe as "passive-aggressive art."
Their drawings are alive with the strangeness of organic shapes. They illustrate and collaborate for Forest Secrets - an interactive folklore expedition on Patreon.Get in touch!
Selected poems, bits of script and other written works. Click through for childhood hauntings, queer self-love, loss, and maybe some nightmares.
werewolfmy eyes are hole-punched
scrap paper mouth gasping – let the moonlight in.light flood fast as air, clear as breath
let it make milk-pools in the grain of my skinlet it under my mask and coat me
with the pearl soul of a wild thing, burninglet me be the moon howling, a body
brimming, steady beating lighthurdling light, soft in ribbons
the same light at the second flank of Earthbut biting.into bundles of purple leaves, crawling
the edges of water, lightlessand lulling, summer dark humming
and clicking, white flowers turned night-blueI move to whistles and flitting shadow
wings, a curlew silhouetted by starsand dragged, caught between my grey
pebble teeth and the smashed grass.adjudicate this, sickness like the rest,
there is sickness in the rest, the restingthe turning just to sleep, all peace and bones
while daylight is a violent deedan upright thing.I roll back when the sky slits open
horizons bending to glassy bows, daybreaka storm of silver molecules
forepaws former palms but they formfists, grasp crushed husks of slipped
canines like seashells, fur peelingthese sockets nestling my eyes
forever skinned in moonbeamsahead, balanced on sprigs, a bird
with breath in hoops of steambeak wide to eat the sun.
DIRT // SMALLER FINGERS LONGER NAILSIt has rained
the earth comes apartwe are legs and compost
our eyebrows fern
our breaths collect little winged thingswe stamp on mushrooms
our diaries hang like wasps nests
in the treeswhere the soil pulls back
we are down eating seeds, stinking
we sleep in pileswe see ourselves made up in shadows
sliced up in the dark grass
we can see ourselves, if we are allowedthe day we find the gone one
with the onionskin face
shoots splitting green from her cheekswe look through pine branches into her body
see firefog and hungry shapesour throats are dark tunnels
the gurgle of our voices bleeding rabbits
the weight of our bodies pushingrolling her into the Hollow
slip and twist, its walls echo the clapping
of coiled millipede limbs in mudthere are myths underground and underwater
and in wood
in the creakingshe goes to join them
her sour heavy clay-cracked pelt
pitted with buds, baby teeth, glimmering shells
DRESSED IN THE DARK
PUBLICLY BETROTHEDPOSTAGE STAMP
Published in "ANARCHIVIST" - September 2021's issue of the MASS magazine.
DOG SHAME FIGHTwhen you pick something up
when you pick anything up:
fruit flies, and moths on the doorframes
and bluebottles and carpet beetles
you can’t walk barefoot in the kitchen because of crumbs and grounds and pepper seeds
the washing machine today has flipped the fuse three times
you just want clean clothes and
the inside of the fridge goes dark
you can’t waste any food
manager at your second job still hasn’t sent you time sheets, contracts, forms for travel expenses
what’s the difference between eruption and rupture, one is the earth and
one is a person
dropping the ice cube tray feels like throwing a fistful of rocks
poured too much soy sauce on your rice, it comes out so fast
slammed a wet glass down
slammed a door
the wind drags through the flat
and you don’t have an eating disorder but your hands are shaking
there isn’t enough desk space for poems
there isn’t enough brain space for POEMS
phone keeps pinging chirping buzzing and
missed calls from unknown numbers and known numbers
the sofa is sinking in the middle and your hip hurts
you email letting agency for the third time about the black mould
automated reply “I am no longer working at Tay Letting”
you email letting agency for the fourth time about the black mould
the neighbours footsteps make your desk chair rumble like a hungry stomach
it’s too hot
the traffic keeps sighing
and breathing all day, the gulls cry
I’ll cry if I have to spend the rest of my life doing dishes
something rattles, something roars, something spits
but you can’t
you’re too controlled
managers at your first job want to increase capacity
motorbike shrieks feel like toothache or a haemorrhage
other people are allowed to lose control but you’re not
devices beep when they connect and beep when they disconnect
you don’t want them to talk
you keep walking into things that make noise
you block porn bots
your face is breaking out and burning
there’s no room for me here
there’s no room for me here but I pay rent
there’s no room for me here but I pay rent
there’s no room for me here someone else owns the rooms
and the room and the white goods
I can’t drive
I’ll never learn because I don’t know what I’d do
I’ll never learn because a car is an expensive self-harm machine
if another person asks me what my plans are
if another person asks me what I’m doing I’ll get my hands on a seabird
empty it’s blood onto my face and say
“I’m getting a vegan sausage roll”
Published in "This Gift of Time", a 2020 anthology of writing from Open Book, and performed at Aberdeen University's WayWORD Festival in 2021.
My Counsellor Said ‘Trauma Is Not What Happens To Us But What We Hold Inside In The Absence Of An Empathetic Witness’carpets do a poor job of translating
static in the body from neuroelectrical
another thing held, contained
walls are physical but not real
our own worlds are much tighter
doors as valves chanting bloodlessly
into the atrium
at the bottom of the stairs
where the dog would sit by the windowautomated electro-fire place
a palace for plastic animals
brought down from my bedroom in a plastic bag
everything small, everything alive
talking to myselfthe voices run out of room afraid to eat
someone else’s breath
some children breathe backwards
alone in steaming bathwater like salamanders
the home is a roofless vampire
a deadbeat full of stars
with the brightest and bruised at the heart of the ceiling
aflame in a halo of glasssometimes two blazing eyes
sometimes dark cinder spots
sometimes looking awayinjuries glide like scissors and shift
and stick the body
into a collage
an adult can be an adult or
a hundred ghosts of a child
it does not qualify as repair
Performed online in 2021 at Aberdeen University's WayWORD Festival.
Evaporation SicknessIMum describes the heaviness of the dog’s ashes
like a prize-winning cucumber
with esteemor confusion
that the cohesion between cells has always been
just enough to make it possible
to hold each anotherto fill the house up with jarsto fill the garden up with sleeping dogsIIWe are very good at making spit but not words:
bury or burn
bury or burn
bury or burn
our vocabulary is catalytic
We talk about memories because nothing new is coming
but what’s come back up
When we talk we break things, in this familyWhen you feed someone you shouldn’t have to watch them dieIIII wonder what will keep me:
clipped hair from tails
faces of the dead printed on cushionsI don’t want to feel how heavy it ishe would sit on my feet
so we always knew where we werewhat’s nurturingwhat’s fertiliserIVWhen my gran died I made cheese on toast
and the smell was so precise and from so far away that I cried
and crying is when you dip your tongue
behind your cheekbones
and sample the parts that keep you
the wet pelt of dog
the chewed-up newsprint of kitchen table talk
the blood-pink cement mix that keeps me alive
and awake at nightI’m tired of being impressed
by the closed mouth of death.
PathologyThe camera takes her
as if she were a river,
The slick crown of her skull and slackened chest
are the forefront of the frame,
cold and dewy and pale. Soaked flowers
in her patterned dress are drowned
in the bathtub of pink-hued water.
Before, at the party,
her body had been wrapped in seashell green, iridescent
as a snake.
Dress her up to put her out, dress her up to put her away, I think,
while men crowd around her floral shroud
forming a well-mapped city of black and beige and blue.
they are whimpering bruises in the dark.(The female vapourer moth gives up feeding; her body swells.
She gives up flight to lay several hundred eggs. You get up to make coffee.)
“It’s the women, always the women,” one man says,
“It’s what they do to us.”
Monday night programming; we are still the guilt of all humanity.
You cannot be free when you must tend to an omnipresent wound,
and she is soft and empty and dead in the water and we are all hiding the face of death
beneath our masks. We are the void, devoid, dealt out in your thoughts,
decaying always to be soft, soft.
My body swells.
Men were always concrete and women were always wild, but nature is full of bones.
Excerpt from "MY ASEXUALITY IS" - commissioned by and performed at the UK Asexuality Conference, 2019. A revised version was performed with The Queer Dot collective at Generator Projects, Dundee, in 2019.
This piece featured in Yasmin Benoit's documentary for BBC Radio Berkshire, "Me and My Asexuality," 2020.
……Why am I here? Why am I here? Am I here because of a hormone imbalance? A disorder? Of anxiety, or depression? Maybe these things are just the physiological effects of being in this environment, in this body, the way bones leak calcium to feed blood, and muscles atrophy in the absence of planetary pull. I adapt. We adapt, to microgravity, weightlessness, not a physical disorder but a physics disorder, up here, we are every supernatural being that has ever not quite existed, thrown off the earth.Being asexual, being any form of queer is, perhaps, shifting, across years, months, hours, between the five stages of grief. Denial. Bargaining. Depression. Anger. Acceptance. It’s living under a full moon and slipping clouds and finding renewal with each new individual seasonal cyclical unearthing of acceptance. Somehow doing it again and again and again and again and again when an old skin and an old set of teeth threaten to grow back.Denial is the gift that others have given us. Parents, peers, therapists, doctors, bad biologists. Partners. Educators.The important thing to remember is: These feelings and attractions are normal, these desires are healthy – we’re all human, after all. It’s instinctual, an undeniable part of our very nature, to crave the blood of another human. If you don’t feed, you’re just a corpse, and then to be loved, is to be gently cannibalised.You’re not a word you’ve never heard.
You’re not the person you don’t know can and does exist.
You’re repressed.Why is my body floating away from me?[...]Sometimes I think, growing up queer is like growing up on a space station when all you’ve ever been shown are pictures of Earth and nobody tells you that space exists.If none of us are afforded the freedom to be queer, or given freedom from fearing queerness, how can we live our lives in safety? Do we not all grow up in traumatic circumstances? Do we not all grow up? Do we not stand with one another, and allow ourselves to grow slow.
Grow slow, and rare, and strong.YOUR ASEXUALITY IS NOT A FLAW IS NOT A WEAKNESS IS NOT A FAILURE IS NOT A VACANCY IS NOT A FRAUD IS NOT A PRISON IS NOT A PUNISHMENT IS NOT A SICKNESSYOUR ASEXUALITY IS VALUABLE IS TRANSFORMATIVE IS DESERVING IS DISRUPTIVE AND IS POWERFUL
FUCK (a health monologue)Holding a physical form requires constant, unrelenting maintenance. I was keeping a record of how many glasses of water I was drinking a day, and the most I could manage was five. I don’t have time, and I’m always pissing. Every half hour I’ve got to stop what I’m doing and go to the bathroom or sit in discomfort at work or on a bus, or waking up at 5am with an aching bladder. It’s much easier not to drink, it’s much easier to always be on the brink of dehydration. And food, food is just as much of a joke; buying food, cooking food, choosing food, using it before it wastes, and masticating and pushing pulp to the back of my throat is so repulsive, and having all these invisible processes inside and not knowing which ones are going right... I don’t know, you give your body all this stuff and it doesn’t know what to do with it and throws it away or turns it into cancer.This isn’t just a case of saying, okay, “I’m sick.” This has always been my worst fear, that’s what I’m facing. I’m up against something that someone else gave me with a terrifying expiration date: use it before it wastes. My body has conspired to kill me ten, fifteen years early. It’s just... why am I being wrecked from the inside, why the fuck! People get sick, I know this! But what am I gonna do? It’s just been getting worse and worse for months, the shaking, I can’t control my hands. I’ll get dizzy again and, probably I need to eat but I’m scared to, it just makes me feel nauseous, it’ll give me cramps in an hour. Maybe nothing’s moving in there. Maybe I’ve gone still.I know my nerves are eating themselves. The first doctor I saw could see how upset I was, I said, “it comes and goes” and she said “what do you think it is?” because I wouldn’t stop crying. I didn’t tell her that every time my arm tingles and I get weak I work myself into a panic because I can think of nothing else but I’m having a stroke and I won’t be able to use my phone or speak to call an ambulance. I can’t say, “I know what’s going to happen, I’m going to die on my bathroom floor and I don’t know when anyone will find me.” I say to the doctor, between quick breaths, “I don’t know, I just feel terrible.” She says it sounds like I’m thinking about it too much. Does that make you sick? Thinking about it too much? Remembering all the tubes inside that can clot or twist at any moment. Living inside my own body, and knowing it, what a fucking nightmare. This is the worst way to exist.Anyway she says, come back if it gets worse. They always say that. They always say that when I get ‘hysterical.’ Of course I’m concerned about my health, what else do I have? If this body has a big time fuck up then where will I go? Catch it early. Sending me away as if this is normal and I’ll calm down on my own, stop having panic attacks when it feels like the skin on my face is full of moths. I hope it’s serious just to spite you.I went back and the other doctor said, “it could be a vitamin D deficiency, or the early signs of MS.” Why is everything in my life zero or a-fucking-hundred? That one was on my list, next to diabetes, my brain tumour, the bowel cancer, below IBS, endometriosis, some kind of rare blood virus after finding those wide-set bite marks on my inner elbow. That patch of meat over my right shoulder blade that went numb about six months ago. Couple of weeks ago I thought, I’m gonna die of compact faeces, like a neglected rabbit, like Elvis Presley, I’m gonna die.The shaking has been really bad today, in my fingers and my wrists and legs. I try to clutch a pen and my muscles can’t even keep steady. I can’t stop thinking. There are thick, candycane-striped bundles of nerves in our shoulders and in ten years the slimy coatings on mine will have quivered and disintegrated... Happy Holidays.
This text was created for a devised piece of performance inspired by "Attempts On Her Life" by Martin Crimp.
ANNIE IS A COLLECTION OF CRIMES THAT HAVEN’T HAPPENED YET ANNIE IS A SIXTH SENSE ANNIE IS THE HARBINGER ANNIE IS UPSKIRTED IN STARBUCKS ANNIE IS SENT THROUGH EMAIL ANNIE IS EATEN BY CARPET BEETLES ANNIE IS TAKEN APART AND TAKEN THROUGH ANNIE IS A HOMEOWNER ANNIE IS TOLD TO OPEN ANNIE IS TOO OPEN ANNIE IS BREAKING AND ENTERING ANNIE IS OUT OF BOUNDS ANNIE IS AN ENGINE ANNIE IS THE BURNT REMAINS OF AN ECTOPIC PREGNANCY ANNIE IS A PILL TWO TIMES A DAY ANNIE IS FRIGID ANNIE IS MISSING ANNIE IS A CYCLE LIKE THE MOON ANNIE IS A HEART MURMUR ANNIE IS FORGETFUL ANNIE IS A FUGITIVE ANNIE IS BROKEN GLASS ANNIE IS BEHIND THE MICROPHONE ANNIE IS A PORNOGRAPHIC MOVIE STAR LIKE ALL WOMEN ARE
Spoken Word Performance History2020 – Spoken Word feature, Me and My Asexuality – BBC Radio Berkshire2020 – Readings and Q&A, WayWORD Festival – Aberdeen University2019 – The Queer Dot Exhibition Opening – Generator Projects, Dundee2019 – UK Asexuality Conference – Edinburgh2019 - Script Readings, Suffer The Workers? - Cooper Gallery, Dundee2018-2019 – Script Readings, Scrieve, Monthly Playwriting Scratch Nights – Dundee2014-2022 – Hotchpotch, Monthly Open Mic Nights – Dundee
Selected works and readings.
Hysteria, September 2022
Research and Development with Vivid Roots Collective. A week of collaborating, devising and writing in response to the theme of Hysteria and gender bias in medicine, with creative direction from Keira Smith.
"I wish this weight could wander
I wish it could roam
go to sleep
build a nest for itself
hibernate behind my lungs
I wish it could wander
I wish for teeth
but offered instead
lip fillers and hymen reconstruction surgery
- text written in response to research themes and The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
Songs for Work, April 2022
Devised, written and performed with Beth Dynowski, Dan Cox, and Saoirse Amira Anis.
The Golden Ratio
Devised and performed with Eve Thompson and Ashlyn Bourelle, 2021. Performed live online alongside filmed sequences.
Performance of "MY ASEXUALITY IS", written for and first performed at the UK Asexuality Conference, 2019.
Shown below are prints featuring text from the work, placed on conference chairs before attendants arrived.
A newly edited version of the work was performed with The Queer Dot collective at Generator Projects, Dundee, in 2019.
Script reading, Suffer The Workers? - Cooper Gallery, Dundee, 2019.
This event coincided with Ceremony, an exhibition of work by Phil Collins exploring the legacy of Friedrich Engels, in collaboration with SCRIEVE, a playwrighting scratch night.
A pastel picket fence celebrates the birth of the queer self. Two hearts meet where gender and body horror coexist in a spiral. A small felt monster speaks with it's teeth.Pieces of this collection featured in Dundee Contemporary Art's Echo event in 2018, corresponding with their Shonky exhibition.
My ACE RAGE collection reflects a journey towards re-making: re-making childhood, re-making gender, re-making mess. Embracing the unpolished, the joyful, the amateur, and the hand-made. For queer folks in particular I feel we are all hand-made, as we are frequently forced to uncover and shape parts of our identities that out families or communities try to conceal.There remains a sense of the obsessive and the meticulous - rows of sequins individually threaded, thin strips of plastic glued down one by one. But there are exposed seams and rough edges, glistening layers of peeling glitter glue like dried slime, plastic eyelashes and spilled wax. At it's heart ACE RAGE is passive-aggressive.
Short story illustration for Heart of The Swallow Queen by Rafael Torrubia.
This work was published online in April 2021's Corvid Queen from Sword & Kettle Press.
This piece forms part of Forest Secrets, a collaboartive storytelling project of fantasy folklore on Patreon.