Bitterne Parker

Bitterne Parker: Deborah Gearing

Deborah Gearing
Deborah Gearing spent a few years touring theatre out of the back of a van before signing up for a proper job and doing a PGCE. In the same year her first play went on at the National Theatre, so the schoolteacher role was short-lived. She moved to the Park, got a bicycle, and now writes plays, teaches writing and makes theatre with interesting people, trained actors and those who might not otherwise get a look-in. She’s currently researching a show for a favourite actor, who lives just down the road.

The Qs & the As

What’s your link with Bitterne Park?

I live here. Happily.

What’s your earliest memory of the area?

I shared a flat with other actors and a student in Macnaghten Road. It wasn’t very clean.

How could the area be better?

It is ‘getting better’ as in feeling more exciting. Or do you mean the potholes? Fill in the potholes.

Tell us something we probably didn’t know already about Bitterne Park.

Oh Crikey. Did you know there were people living in open boats under the bridge after the war, because there was nowhere for them to live?

What’s good about the wider city?

I like the green lungs of Southampton. The art galleries, the people making art of all kinds accessible, a really diverse crowd of people setting out to do their own thing – it’s feeling very exciting. I think there are some good, generous and friendly people around in all parts of the city and I concentrate on them when I meet some who aren’t so good, generous and friendly.

‘I write to John Denham when things get too bad.
He might be a bit fed up with me.’

Southampton: points for improvement?

I think lots of people are trying very hard to make the city a good place to be for everyone. What it needs is more self-confidence – there’s a great tradition, it seems to me, of knocking the city and sometimes that feels infectious. I think we could make more fuss about the old city. It’s something to be proud of.

What’s your passion in life?

Whatever I’m doing.

How do you put bread on your table?

Currently the breadbin’s a bit bare. It’ll pick up again. Something will come. (That’s me on an optimistic day). If not this, then that. You know, the world is changing a lot at the moment.

What has your career taught you?

I think that word is a hard one to attach to myself. My working path meanders like a river. Sometimes you have to accept that there’s overload, then there’s a drought. Something always comes along.

What really gets your goat?

Drivers who don’t indicate because they don’t think about pedestrians.

How do you relax?  

Some scandi tv.

What’s your favourite dish?

Something I haven’t cooked myself.

radioWhich is your favourite pub?

Wherever my friends are.

What are you drinking?


What do you listen to?

Radio 4, but I’m trying to wean myself off the news. Radio 6. Antony Hegarty.

Can you recommend a really good read?

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. (If you want some YA dystopia).

What’s a great day out?

An art gallery with my chap, then a cup of coffee and some cake. A Ukulele Jam concert in the evening. Because they are a good thing.

What scares you?

Oh, don’t get me started. Everything. Ebola. War. Private equity companies taking over our lives – our UK plasma supplier has been sold off, did you know that? Powerlessness. We’ve got sixteen year olds traipsing across the bridge to come to a food bank. I don’t understand how we came to this. Is that too political? I suppose the thing that comforts me is when I hear a voice speak up. I write to John Denham when things get too bad. He might be a bit fed up with me.

Tell us a secret.

Hum. Can’t think you’d be interested, really. Too banal.

Tell us a joke.

I only know one and it’s terrible. But if you insist:

What do you call a man with a wooden head? Edward.

What do you call a man with two wooden heads? Edward Woodward.

I know – it’s a disaster. Maybe I’ve just got it wrong. There’s another one about a match but I can’t remember how it goes.

Finally, what would be another great question for other Bitterne Parkers?

How does your garden grow? Any tips for clay soil?

Thanks so much for taking part!

Tune in next time when another Bitterne Parker answers our searching questions. But before then, do you know a Bitterne Parker we really should feature? If so, please nominate them by emailing us using the contact form, and we'll do our best. No promises, mind. 

Deborah's website is here.

Read about other Bitterne Parkers


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