About The Fair Intellectual Club

The Fair Intellectual Club is a new play by comedian Lucy Porter, who was inspired to turn this 18th century tale of teenage love, friendship and betrayal into the ‘Mean Girls’ or ‘Heathers’ of its time. 

The play, of relevance to anyone with an interest in nationalism, rationalism and feminism, is loosely based on the story of a real club that was formed in Edinburgh in 1717 by three young ladies frustrated at their lack of education, who aspired to intellectual stimulation and moral improvement.

  “We thought it a great pity that women who excel a great many others in birth and fortune, should not also be more eminent in virtue and good sense, which we might attain unto if we were as industrious to cultivate our minds, as we are to adorn our bodies

  The original three recruited six other like-minded girls, styling themselves after the nine classical muses: Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpischore, Thalia and Urania. They were all sworn to secrecy regarding the club, for fear of ridicule, scandal and accusations that they were concerning themselves in matters outside of their sphere.

They met weekly in the chambers of one of the members and delivered lectures to one another concerning a variety of subjects.
All the members of the club were between 15 and 19 years old, the only acceptable excuses for leaving the club were marriage, death or reaching the age of 19 – after which one was presumably considered ‘past it’.

  Lucy’s interest in the club was inspired by a passage she read in Robert Crawford’s book ‘On Edinburgh and Glasgow’:
During an era when ‘A Looking-Glass for Edinburgh Ladies’ saw spinning work rather than brain power as belonging to “the true character of a Good Wife”, one of the Fair Intellectual Club’s members published verse in The Edinburgh Miscellany... they studied the Tatler, the Spectator, Dryden, and other writers. They were though, advised that “comedies should be read with caution” and their secret group was discovered when one of its members fell in love with a young man from a local Athenian Society.

Following discovery, the ladies published the rules and constitution of their club, and it is on this source material that the play The Fair Intellectual Club is based.

  Through the girls' individual stories the play also seeks to illustrate the exciting atmosphere of Edinburgh during the early 18th Century. The girls’ club philosophy foreshadows ideas about the perfectibility of man that flourished later in that century during the Scottish Enlightenment.
They discuss the devastation caused by the failure of the Darien venture, and the political and religious fallout from The Acts of Union, The Jacobite Risings and the execution of Thomas Aikenhead. They touch on the science of Newton, and the poetry of Pope and Otway.

The original pamphlet written by the girls themselves is sweetly funny. Lucy has also drawn on her own experience of forming secret gangs with pals.
The result is a warmly funny play about the universal, timeless joy (and torture) of adolescent friendships.

Booking Tickets

The Fair Intellectual Club is touring in 2015, after a successful run at the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe, presented by Stellar Quines and Marilyn Imrie.
Established in 1993, Stellar Quines is an award winning Scottish theatre company that celebrates the energy, experience and perspective of women. @stellarquines

To book tickets, please check the following listings;

19th February 2015 - The Tron, Glasgow - 7.45pm TICKETS
20th February 2015 - The Tron, Glasgow - 7.45pm TICKETS
21st February 2015 - The Tron, Glasgow - 7.45pm TICKETS
(double bill with Lucy's "Me Time" solo show at 10.15pm - TICKETS FOR ME TIME)
23rd February 2015 - Edinburgh Napier University, Morningside Church Theatre - 7.30pm - TICKETS
26th February 2015 - The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen - 7pm TICKETS
1st March 2015 - Byre Theatre, St Andrews - 7.30pm TICKETS
3rd March 2015 - Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh - 7.30pm TICKETS
4th March 2015 - Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh - 7.30pm TICKETS
8th March 2015 - WOW Festival, SouthBank, London - 1.30pm - TICKETS
8th March 2015 - WOW Festival, The Junction, Cambridge - 8pm - TICKETS

The Cast

Samara MacLaren: Poly

Training: LAMDA 

Theatre: Untaught To Shine (Stellar Quines), The Fitzrovia Radio Hour (Gilded Balloon, St James Theatre and UK Tour), Puellae (Summerhall), Twelfth Night (Perth Theatre), Swifter Higher Stronger (Roundhouse), The Notebook of Trigorin (Finborough Theatre), Charley's Aunt (English Theatre of Vienna) 

Television: Walter's War, Merlin, Doctors, Lip Service, A Lesson in Death (All for the BBC)
Caroline Deyga: Thalia

- BA (Hons) Acting for Stage & Screen at Edinburgh Napier/Queen Margaret Universities
- HNC/D Acting & Performance at The Space, Dundee College

Victoria, Hecuba, The BFG, And Then There Were None, Cars & Boys, The Shape of a Girl (all at Dundee Rep)
Jessica Hardwick: Clio

Training: Recent graduate of The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland 

Theatre: Miss Julie (Citizens Theatre) Crime and Punishment (Citizens Theatre, Liverpool Playhouse and The Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh) The Antipodes (Sam Wanamaker Festival Shakespeare's Globe) The Possibilities (Tron Theatre, Kings Head Theatre and National Theatre Warsaw)

Winner of the inaugural Billy Award for 'Best Newcomer' at the Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland (CATS) 2014 - for her performances as Sonya in Crime and Punishment and Christine in Miss Julie.
Director: Marilyn Imrie

Edinburgh & London based director Marilyn Imrie’s continuing work for the BBC includes four popular radio series: The Stanley Baxter Playhouse, Rumpole Of The Bailey, with Benedict Cumberbatch, The Gobetweenies by Marcella Evaristi & Secrets & Lattes by Hilary Lyon.

For Bath Literature festival over the last four years she’s directed To Kill A Mockingbird and Rumpole of The Bailey, and a courtroom drama based on the 1922 Murder trial of Edith Thompson and Freddie Bywaters.

Last year she directed a community play by Annie Caulfield about the humourist Flann O’Brien for the Strabane festival in Northern Ireland, and at the 2012 Edinburgh Festival Fringe she directed Diane Atkinson’s WW I drama, Elsie And Mairi Go To War.
She has directed eight plays by poet and playwright Liz Lochhead, and several theatre premieres by playwrights John Byrne, Rona Munro, Colin MacDonald, Bill Paterson, Hattie Naylor and James Runcie.

She is chair of the award-winning Scottish & International Women’s Theatre Company Stellar Quines, and regularly directs workshops in voice technique in performance for Bristol Old Vic Theatre school, and is voice director on the award winning CBBC animation series Big & Small starring Lenny Henry.

Marilyn’s production of Alan Ayckbourn’s Woman In Mind premiered this May in a co production with Dundee and Birmingham Repertory theatres.
Writer: Lucy Porter

A familiar face from TV panel shows such as Mock The Week, Have I Got News for You and Never Mind The Buzzcocks, Lucy has been performing stand-up comedy for well over a decade.
She has travelled all over the world to perform her shows, from Cape Town to Las Vegas to Bangkok.

Lucy is a veteran of the Edinburgh fringe festival, and is also performing her 10th solo show ‘Me Time’ in The Stand 1 at 12.45 from 31st July – 11th August.
For more info, please visit Lucy's website.
Stage Manager: Elspeth Watt


16th February 2015 - An interview with Lucy Porter & Marilyn Imrie - Edinburgh Feminist Review
14th February 2015 - 'Lucy Porter’s debut inspired by 18th century Edinburgh' - The Scotsman
20th July 2014 - Essay Of The Week, by Lucy Porter. Herald Scotland
24th June 2014 - Where you can get Fringe fun all year round. Edinburgh News
20th May 2014 - St. Andrews Square To Be Fringe Venue. All Edinburgh Theatre