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Celebrating the members of the League of Professional Theatre Women

Gerda Stevenson

Gerda Stevenson, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenActor/writer/director/singer-songwriter
Scotland

I look for inspiration all around me, in my own and others’ experience, in the work of fellow artists, and in research.

I have many favourite books – Germinal by Emile Zola, Sunset Song, by Lewis Grassic Gibbon, and I love the poetry of Sharon Olds.

Ran – Kurosawa’s version of King Lear – is a superb film, and I admire Pather Panchali by the great Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray.

I love the line: “If music be the food of love, play on…’ from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. For me, music is indeed this – I come from a family of musicians – my father is the composer/pianist Ronald Stevenson, my sister the harpist/composer Savourna Stevenson, my niece the fiddler/composer Anna-Wendy Stevenson. And my brother Gordon is a violin maker. My son, Rob MacNeacail, plays bass guitar, bagpipes and piano, and right now, my favourite bit of pop culture is his band, Miasma, with their debut album, Feathered Feet – it’s memorably melodic, has great harmonies, and intelligent lyrics.

My guilty pleasure would be Crannachan – a delicious Scottish dessert – whipped cream, whisky, heather honey, and fresh raspberries, with toasted oatmeal. It goes down well with a glass of champagne!

Two plays that made a huge impression on me when I was young were The Trojan Women, directed by the Romanian, Andrei Serban (La MaMa theater company), and The Cheviot, the Stag, and the Black, Black Oil, by Scotland’s 7:84 Theatre Company. The former was a passionate expression of pacifism (like Kurosawa’s Ran), and the 7:84 production was a powerful piece of political theatre, about the exploitation of the Scottish people and their land by successive British governments.

My best escape is to go walking in the Scottish Highlands – by mountains and loch-sides, wild and remote places of my homeland, with my friend Jenny. We’ve known each other since we were born. We take our dogs with us, carry our tent, basic food for a few days, collect firewood on the way, choose where to pitch our tent each evening, and light our camp fire. There’s no one around for miles, no cell phone reception, and it’s paradise.

Gerda Stevenson: Twice nominated for Critics Awards Theatre in Scotland, BAFTA Best Film Actress Award. Nominated LPTW’s Guilder/Coigney Award. Original plays, and dramatisations of classic Scottish novels for BBC Radio. Stage play, Federer Versus Murray, shortlisted London Fringe Theatre Writing Award, 2010, runner-up Best Scottish Contribution to Drama on Edinburgh Fringe, 2011.

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