Meet...  Ink Dolls

Meet... Ink Dolls


This week’s featured IdeasTap members are Glasgow-based drama students Charlotte McGuinness and Emily-Jane McNeill, also known as Ink Dolls – a theatre and film company tackling social and political issues...

Name/age/what you do

Charlotte McGuinness, 23, actor, writer and co-artistic director of Ink Dolls.

Emily–Jane McNeill, 22, actor, writer and co-artistic director of Ink Dolls.

What does your creative work involve?

We started Ink Dolls in our second year of drama school, out of a desire to create, act and direct new writing, as well as creating opportunities for women in theatre. We focus on current social and political issues through the eyes of our generation. We love comedy. French and Saunders are a big inspiration of ours and we want to explore sketches in the future. 

Describe a typical day 

Charlotte: I swear by a bowl of porridge. There’s always a copious amount of Skyping, discussing ideas and characters. Rehearsals begin with a game to get everyone invigorated. I like to keep learning everything and anything. If I have any spare time, I’ll go the cinema or the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow.

Em–J: Coffee is vital. I am a self-confessed mocha addict. When not at drama school, our days are spent on the lounge floor with A3 paper, creating ideas for upcoming projects. We’ll also be re-drafting scripts and prancing around the kitchen coming up with new comedy sketches. Not forgetting emails. So. Many. Emails. Otherwise you’ll find me at the Citizens Theatre, a gallery or at a gig. 

Tell us about one thing in your IdeasTap portfolio that you’re proud of 

Probably our logo! It took a lot of amending, sketching and tweaking with a Graphic designer in Greece.

How did you learn your craft? 

We’re entering our final year on the BA Acting course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow. 

Em–J: I began this crazy adventure when I was eight and played Marta in The Sound of Music. At 14 I asked my dance teacher how I could become an actor. She recommended auditioning for the National Youth Theatre and I got in. After completing my A Levels – with great encouragement from my drama teacher, Lindsay Greenaway – I took the plunge and moved to London. 

I’m a practical learner, so I joined Fourth Monkey Theatre Company and did two seasons of reparatory plays in London and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2012. While in London, I met a very inspirational man, Leon Yianni. He taught me a million lessons about the world and acting: to always find the comedy in the tragedy and vice versa, to remain in the present and, most importantly, to breathe.

Charlotte: I made my theatre debut as a tap-dancing piglet, aged three. Before going north of the border, I studied and lived in London, where Harrods became my stage as I sold mink coats to millionaires whilst living in a rat-infested Camden room. I trained on the RADA acting foundation course and I recently completed the HighTide Young Writers academy, which is a brilliant festival in my home county of Suffolk. 

In 2011, I worked at the Jill Freud Theatre Company, doing everything from starching Noel Coward collars to stage-management – it taught me etiquette as an actor. Musical theatre short-courses at Sylvia Young Theatre School gave me a glimpse of the drive and energy required to succeed. My drama teacher, David Porter, inspired me at school. He loved comedy and encouraged the surreal in all things. 

Are there any big lessons that you’ve learnt in your career so far? 

Charlotte: Begin anywhere.If you wait until you’re ready, it will never happen.

Em-J: Create your own luck. Be brave and trust yourself.  You learn most from your failures. 

In a parallel universe, what would you be doing instead?

Charlotte: I’d be an interior designer or a photojournalist. As a child, the Pompidou Centre, Paris, inspired me to take photos with my mum’s black and white Olympus Camera. I recently shot the On the Verge Festival, Arches and Theatre Uncut, Tron in Glasgow. My street photography has also been published. 

Em–J: I’d be a singer. I’m obsessed with music and my childhood dream was to be a popstar. I had the Britney Spears microphone and everything. At 11, my mum found a competition on a Hovis bread packet, of all places, to sing for Pete Waterman. I won and recorded backing vocals for an album he was producing. I still sing and recently toured with Susan Boyle. 

What are you up to at the moment?

We’re re-drafting our play, Flat Pack, which debuts at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer. It’s about five young people living in a London flat and the effects of societal views on friendships and the family dynamic. 

We’re at Space Venues at Surgeons Hall 18 – 23 August at 4.35pm. You can buy tickets from the Fringe website.  

Who are you looking to connect with on IdeasTap?

Charlotte: Young writers aiming to bring their story to fruition. Get in touch at 

Em-J: Directors, for collaboration on future Ink Dolls projects. We’re also looking for a lighting designer for our Edinburgh Fringe show. 

Tweet us! @maemcguinness @emjjjjjj @Ink_Dolls_


Would you like to be featured in Meet...? Get in touch 

To be considered, you must have been an IdeasTap member for at least three months, have a photo on your profile and work uploaded to your portfolio. 


For more articles, jobs and opportunities, visit our Performing Arts hub.

Image courtesy of Ink Dolls

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