Oran Mor

A Play, a Pie and a Pint

“The success of MacLennan's formula has been stunning”
THE SCOTSMAN

News from New York

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Gerda Stevenson:
A message to Oran Mor from New York! My play, Federer Versus Murray, which began its life almost two years ago at Oran Mor's A Play, A Pie And A Pint  season in summer, 2010, and played at Assembly on the Edinburgh Fringe last year, is now up and running (funded by Creative Scotland) at 59E59 Theaters, just off Madison Avenue in NYC - on until 22nd April. Fabulous Dave Anderson and Dumfries's own New York based master saxophonist Ben Bryden are performing with me nightly - well, not Mondays - we do have a day off per week!
Easter Sunday yesterday, and the Easter Bonnet Parade was out with the sunshine in all its glory. Watched amazing break dancers on 5th Avenue - incredible athleticism! - before going into the theatre to do a matinee and an evening show.


First day off today - so I had a lie-in, and then went for a stroll in beautiful Central Park.


It's a bit of a miracle that we ever got here - the American Visa application process being unbelievably bureaucratic, hideously so - downright prohibitive, I'd say - took months to process, and we actually began to think it wasn't going to happen at all. But, thanks to the intervention of the Scottish Government, we're here, and there seems to be interest in our existence - some interviews
(check out:  http://userhome.brooklyn.cuny.edu/anthro/jbeatty/Scotia/issue19/issue19a.html#gerda),  and various organisations turning up to see what we've got to offer.


Audiences are good numerically so far, and very warm, which is encouraging, though I think some of them find the Scots accents and dialect a bit challenging initially, until they tune in. Funny - at the Edinburgh Festival, lots of Americans came to see the show, and none of them mentioned this, but maybe it's not the same when they're experiencing a 'foreign' play on home territory - perhaps there's a psychological difference?


To coincide with the run in New York, the full script of the play has been published by the American literary journal, Salmagundi,who are generously donating free copies to everyone who buys a ticket for the show - a lovely and most unexpected sponsorship.  (http://cms.skidmore.edu/news/news.cfm?passID=3415)  I didn't know them from Adam - although I knew of the magazine's reputation. They came to see Federer Versus Murray  twice in Edinburgh, and then wrote to me offering to publish the play. And what's more, they hosted a party for us, on the third night, in a wonderfully appointed apartment, owned by friends of theSalmagundi editors, a few blocks up from the theatre - a superb spread of delicious food, and a spectacular setting - amazing to stand outside on the balcony, with all those sparkling lights below us, around us, and the full moon hanging like a silver lantern above the fairytale Chrysler building - romantic Manhattan, even if it is an illusion!


It's Scotland Week here - also called Tartan Week - seems to be the same week, but, confusingly, its title alternates! - and representatives of the Scottish Government are thick on the ground, doing their cultural politicking, including, attending our production, and David Harrower's A Slow Air, which is performing in the same building. The Gaels have been here too, as part of the celebrations, and, as luck would have it, my husband Aonghas MacNeacail, Skye poet, was invited here for a few days to read his poetry at The Poets' House. We walked over the Brooklyn Bridge together last Thursday, on a perfect Spring afternoon, finishing up in Chinatown, dining on Malaysian cuisine. We'd been in Brooklyn, to visit the studio of our friend, the very fine Scottish artist, Gwen Hardie, who'll soon be exhibiting her work at the RSA in Edinburgh, and at An Lanntair Arts Centre in Stornoway. Gwen paints microscopically observed sections of human flesh, which look like landscapes, other worlds, or planets, exquisitely beautiful, luminous expressions of light and form - visual meditations.


I'm staying in a tiny, very old apartment, on West 56th Street, just a 5 minute walk from the theatre. This homely little studio space belongs to a member of the New York based League of Professional Theater Women. It's like an artist's eyrie, full of paintings, books, and sculptures. The old pipes knock and trill at intervals throughout the night, and at 3am, the garbage trucks trundle and thump in the street below - a far cry from the quiet Pentland Hills, but it's amazing what you can get used to!


That's all for now - all best to our colleagues at Oran Mor!

Latest comments

  1. wilma stark said;

    10 April 2012, 2:24 pm

    that is just wonderful Gerda. so happy for you and the play and also for Scottish Writing in general. you paint a wonderful picture of New York. thank tou for sharing. I loved the play when I saw it in Oran Mor and the live sax playin just superb!!!

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