Stellar Quine of the Month: Sylvia Dow

How would you describe your current job and what do you like best about it?

As a playwright I’ve found that writing, although it can be frustrating, and the stuff of sleepless nights, is also marvelously liberating and satisfying. Especially writing for theatre.

What do you consider your best work and why?

I’m never entirely happy with anything – always worrying away at the work, striving to make it better. But I enjoyed working on my play for Stellar Quines the most. The development and research period of THREADS was such a joy, driving round the Borders with Stellar Quines’ wonder-woman Muriel Romanes, delving into archives, and talking to gallus Borders women-who-knit.

What was your first ever job?

I had a few wee jobs when we lived abroad – bookstore, dime store, that kind of thing but my first proper job was as a teacher of drama in Bo’ness Academy. I still direct their annual school show.

What was the contact/opportunity/job offer that you feel has made the most difference to your career?

Two really- Selma Dimitrijevic, the playwright and director who directed and toured my first play. And Stellar Quines, which has been so important to so many female playwrights. Can I have three? Because being part of the Traverse 50 was also huge for me.

What’s the biggest opportunity that you missed or wished you had taken up but didn’t?

Wish I had started writing 30 years ago. Being old when I began means I am always playing catch-up and also means that I will never, in reality, actually catch up!

What has been your favourite theatre production?

So many. Let me think. Ninagawa’s all male production of Medea at the Edinburgh Festival in 1992 knocked me sideways.

What do you like the best about working in theatre?

I love theatre makers – actors, directors, writers. I love being in their company and I am in awe of the magic they make.

What advice would you give emerging female practitioners in theatre today?

I read an interview with the writer/poet/rapper Kate Tempest in which she said the important thing is to ‘do the work, and get it out there’. Both of these are hard but you’ve got to keep at it. And see work whenever and wherever you can. So that you never stop learning.

Who would your Stellar Quine of the month be and why?

I think most of my Quine-heroines may well have already been featured, but I’d choose an icon of Scottish Theatre, still working hard, still delighting us, Una MacLean.



SQ of the Month