Muriel’s Montreal Diary – entry one

Muriel Romanes is the Artistic Director of Stellar Quines Theatre Company. Muriel has been developing Ana for over five years and is currently in Montreal for the rehearsals and opening of the show.

I travelled from Edinburgh to Montreal two weeks ago to be here for the rehearsals and opening of ANA.

We have had wonderfully sunny cold autumn days with the trees luminous yellow and carmine with the changing season, the city is looking really beautiful.

Autumnal tree in Montreal

A glimpse of Montreal's striking autumn colours

I have a very strong sense that there is a synergy between Scotland and Quebec. As I re-walk the streets I sense similarities but maybe I am dreaming it up and a left over memory from 21 years ago with the Scots translation of Michel Tremblay’s texts is ringing in my ears.

The Scottish team have settled into their apartments and are beginning to get to know this amazing city. We attended a production of Il Campiello directed by Serge Denoncourt and there are invites to a Halloween party and other theatre visits. The business of learning lines goes on at a pace and last week the play was blocked around 6 huge towers which form the set.

Part of the set for Ana

The beginnings of ANA's set

Some of the Canadian actors are working on other projects at the same time and are not always available for rehearsals – this is a very different way of working which enables actors to earn a better living by being able to work in TV, film and other more lucrative jobs at the same time. Certainly the productions here have much longer rehearsal periods but also periods of gestation between blocks of rehearsal.

I saw the first run through of the second half of ANA last night and feel very heartened by what I saw. This piece is a true hybrid and it is very exciting to watch the text unfolding in French, English, Spanish and Italian with all the different richness that these vernaculars bring. I am always surprised by the way in which the sounds in language often convey as much meaning as the text itself – this is a trifle of delights.

Stellar Quines has had a strong relationship with Quebec theatre over the past few years. And we always looking at other female playwrights here in Canada, as well as promoting the work of Scottish female playwrights in Quebec. We wish to continue our relationships in Quebec and Canada and build new alliances in the future to enable more women’s voices from Canada and Scotland to be heard internationally. The experiences of this production will help to further develop a better understanding of the diversity of world theatre and the development of the creative skills of all our artists.

Clare Schapiro and I are trying to learn the art of subtitling, which is enormously complex, not only do we have to put the English into French and visa versa, we have to edit the text to make it concise and take the audience through a journey that enables them to understand without being fixed on reading subtitles.

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