Scotland Inspired: Gerda Stevenson

Gerda Stevenson Gerda Stevenson is an actor, writer and director

Who and what has shaped some of Scotland's most creative minds?

BBC Scotland has launched a major series - Scotland Inspired - tracing Scotland's artistic family tree, with prominent figures choosing Scots who have inspired them.

Gerda Stevenson has acted in every major Scottish theatre company of the past 30 years, including founding the women's theatre company Stellar Quines.

She is considered by many as the foremost Scottish radio actor of her generation and on film has worked with pioneering director Margaret Tait and Mel Gibson in Braveheart.

BBC Radio Scotland - Scotland Inspired, Episode 7 - Tuesday 12 June at 13:45

POLITICAL THEATRE - image shows the 7:84 Theatre Company in 1974 GERDA STEVENSON SAYS
7:84 Theatre Company, 1974

"I think the play that influenced me most was John McGrath's 7:84 Theatre Company's production of The Cheviot, the Stag and The Black Black Oil. I was in my teens and I had never seen anything like that ever.

"It was all direct address to the audience, there was singing, there was a series of sketches and, of course, the whole story was a revelation.

"The basis of it is that the people of Scotland have been disenfranchised historically, starting off with the Clearances and going right up to North Sea oil.

"7:84, of course, means 7% of the population own 84% of the nations wealth - and that was the agenda of that theatre company, to politicise a generation.

"I think they succeeded in doing so. If they didn't, they were certainly in there, part of that process.

"This was the early 70s. I think we have all been influenced by John McGrath, one way or another.

"He was a real force in Scottish theatre and I have been very lucky to have worked with him, because that was the first theatre company I joined."

MARGARET TAIT - film-maker and poet (1918 - 1999)

GERDA STEVENSON SAYS

Margaret Tait

"Margaret Tait was an extraordinary woman, who was a pioneer. She developed a style all of her own in film-making.

"I think she described them herself as film-poems, which is a very good description.

"She would take her camera and make films about places and about people.

"She made some wonderful films about Rose Street, where she lived in Edinburgh.

"I think she loved Edinburgh. You can see that in her films, her love of the place - but she was very much an Orcadian.

"I worked with her on the film Blue Black Permanent, like the ink. It was about a writer and the artistic process. The character I played, Greta, was like a fish out of water in the urban setting.

"I went to Orkney, my character was Orcadian, and it was great to have time with Margaret.

"She was a very private person whose work had been very neglected and now, after her death, is beginning to be understood and appreciated and celebrated."

MARY BRUNTON - novelist (1778 - 1818)

GERDA STEVENSON SAYS

Mary Brunton

"In the early 90s I became more and more interested in the writing of women and their lack of visibility. I set up Stellar Quines, which is Scotland's leading women's theatre company. I began to read the novels of Scottish women writers and discovered many.

"I was particularly interested in Nancy Brysson Morrison's The Gowk Storm - a great, neglected Scots novel about three sisters.

"Before that I discovered the work of Mary Brunton. She had a wonderful novel published called Self-Control and I dramatised that for radio.

"It came out in the early 1800s, a year before Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, which has a not-dissimilar plot, interestingly. And Jane Austen herself said she thought she would never write anything as good as Mary Brunton's Self-Control.

"The novel is very modern. It is kind of the study of a stalker and the relationship between the stalked and the stalker from a women's point of view. It is brilliant. "Definitely an inspiration, not just to me, but to Jane Austen."

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