Stellar Quine of the Month: Laura Mackenzie Stuart

Laura Mackenzie Stuart

How would you describe your current job?
My role within Creative Scotland is primarily to have an oversight of the theatre sector in Scotland in order to facilitate opportunity through funding and other initiatives. What this REALLY means is meeting lots of people and drinking vast quantities of tea during the day, and then in the evening ….

There is no typical day however.  This week for example has included giving specialist input into applications for funding, two panel sessions, giving an update at the Federation of Scottish Theatre members meeting, joint planning with Festivals Edinburgh and British Council Scotland to deliver tailored programmes for each of the 100 international delegates coming to Edinburgh in August and preparing briefings for our new CEO who arrives on Monday.  And tidying my desk for the same reason!

What do you like best about it?
Without doubt the biggest joy is the opportunity to see a phenomenal range of sensational work.
And my knowledge of highland roads is improving greatly.

What was your first ever job?
I spent two summers working at a fun fair in Luxembourg – involving a free pass to all rides – with the sole mission of perfecting my skill at sticking upside down to the inside walls of a massive spinning drum. Not necessarily a focused career decision…

First real job was to qualify as a Fine Art auctioneer at Philips in Edinburgh specialising in oriental ceramics.  This started a long and lingering love of the Far East and especially China.

What was the contact/opportunity/job offer that you feel has made the most difference to your career?
While waiting for an interview for something entirely unconnected I wandered into the Edinburgh Festival Fringe office in 1990 looking for some temporary work and left eight years later bitten by the theatre bug and married to an actor.  Since then, and for the 24 years since, there has been no better place to be in August than Edinburgh.

What’s the biggest opportunity that you missed or wished you had taken up but didn’t?
As the wacky world of pensions looms nearer I wonder if my father had a point when trying to persuade me and my sisters to be lawyers.  One is – but the rest of us are happy!  Actually, there are so many things still to be done that there just isn’t time to ponder the ones that got away.

What’s your favourite play or piece of theatre?
Novocento by Theatre de Quat’Sous of Montreal – a profoundly emotional one-person show with striking lighting and sound effects, which succeeded in making Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum theatre’s stage feel claustrophobic and left you feeling as though you had genuinely been in the bowels of a ship for weeks.

What do you like the best about working in theatre?
That rules are there to be broken and therefore the people who are drawn to working that way.

What advice would you give emerging female practitioners or producers in theatre today?
Don’t consider yourself a female practitioner or producer but use what comes naturally to your advantage.

Who would your Stellar Quine of the month be and why?
Freya Stark- writer, traveller and linguist – who personified the value of rule-breaking until reaching a 100 years old and loudly won the argument that being female doesn’t need to hold you back.

SQ of the Month