ONCE Alice Clark had heard the story of her great-great-granny from Glasgow, who married a ship’s captain and took to the high seas, it was inevitable she was going to write about her.

“She was a trailblazer, a Glaswegian woman who travelled the world, from Brooklyn to Brisbane and all over, at a time when that was not easy to do,” says Alice, smiling.

“Jemima was the daughter of a stonemason and married ‘above her station’. She sailed with her husband, the only woman on a ship full of men, with all the challenges that we can well imagine came with that.”

She adds: “As soon as I found out this woman was in our family, I was sure she’d be in a future play…”

Glasgow Times: An old newspaper clipping which shows Jemima Sharp on board the shipAn old newspaper clipping which shows Jemima Sharp on board the ship (Image: Alice Clark)

That play is Ship Rats, an uplifting drama about Jessie, the only woman on board a cargo ship, who is forced to take refuge with cook Jin Hai after the ship’s murder bell rings…

It is the latest instalment in A Play A Pie and A Pint’s autumn season at Oran Mor, co-presented with the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh.

“It’s not a biopic, but it’s loosely based on Jemima’s story, and explores a world of misogyny and colonialism as these two slightly suspicious strangers have to work together, and their relationship becomes something more,” says Alice.

“It looks at contemporary themes, through the story of my ancestor, my family history.”

Glasgow Times: The ship Alice's great-great-granny sailed onThe ship Alice's great-great-granny sailed on (Image: Alice Clark)

Ship Rats stars Madeline Grieve and Sebastian Lim-Seet, seen most recently in PPP’s five-star musical SCOTS by Noisemaker which just finished a successful run at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The play is directed by Laila Noble.

Glasgow Times: The play tackles contemporary themes through the story of Alice's ancestorThe play tackles contemporary themes through the story of Alice's ancestor (Image: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan)

“I’m so excited - it has been great to be in the rehearsal room and watch the cast bring the story to life,” says Alice, whose first play, Made in China, was performed as part of Oran Mor’s lunchtime theatre series last year.

“They take it to another level. I’ve been so lucky to ‘learn on the job’, which Play Pie Pint helps you to do, and to work with such great directors.

“PPP is such a joy to be part of.”

Glasgow Times: Madeleine Grieve and Sebastian Lim-Seet in rehearsals for the playMadeleine Grieve and Sebastian Lim-Seet in rehearsals for the play (Image: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan)

Alice is originally from Bristol, and now lives in Edinburgh, after a “mid-life career change” into screenwriting.

“I worked in drama facilitation and community theatre, so I’ve never been a ‘trained’ playwright,” she explains. “I went to China for six months and ended up staying there for 12 years.

She adds, smiling: “I did a lot of travelling, I’m an adventurer. Now I know about her, I sometimes wonder if that sense of bravery and curiosity maybe came from Jemima."

Ship Rats is at Oran Mor from September 11 to 16.