Through dramatic performance, music, letters and impressions by contemporaries, Stevens portrays fossil hunter Mary Anning, a unique figure of Victorian England, who discovered the amazing fossils of the Blue Lias near Lyme Regis in England.
“Blue Lias” explores the indignity of Anning’s position within the all-male scientific community and the conflict emerging between science and religion. Despite being deeply religious herself, Anning faced years of opposition from people who sought to discredit her on the grounds that her fossil findings were incompatible with their faith or because she was a woman.
Stevens also portrays Anning’s nemesis, the eccentric, humorously self-important William Buckland, who often helped himself to her work. A clergyman and Oxford geologist, Buckland struggled to reconcile scientific discoveries with biblical accounts.
Stevens’ fascinating play, with original music by noted composer Allen Shearer, had its first reading during Stevens’ artist residency at Cornell University in fall 2005. Its world premiere was on March 25, 2007 at the Zimmerli Museum of Art at Rutgers University, with subsequent productions in Virginia, North Carolina and Texas during spring 2007.
This is Stevens’ second visit to Transylvania. She presented her one-person performance piece about the Holocaust, “An Evening with Madame F” in October 2005.
Stevens, a recognized thinker and speaker on ethics and the arts is trained as a pianist, musicologist, conductor and composer, and holds degrees in music from Vassar College, the University of California at Berkeley and Boston University, where she earned a doctor of musical arts in piano. Her academic positions include Williams College and the College of William and Mary, where she is an associate professor of music.
She was the featured artist on several “Performance Today” on NPR broadcasts. The Copland House in New York and several other libraries now house collections devoted to her new music advocacy.
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