Muriel’s Montreal Diary – entry two

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 have just been asked to prepare notes for the programme and we need to write about the journey we have made over the last five years.

Looking back it is only now at the end of the journey that I think I know what “cultural differences” really means in regard to the different ways of theatre in Quebec, Romania and Scotland.

I think it is possible that sometimes the journey is more interesting than the end product and now as we come to the end, it is the memory of myself and Clare Duffy talking through ideas and structures, the exquisite actors in Romania who were so talented and hungry for new ideas and new experiences.

The development of ANA - Romania 2007

A group photo from a workshop to develop ANA in Romania, October 2007

How they walked us through their city Timisoara to tell us of the days of Revolution, the slaughter of people on the steps of the cathedral when the church doors were slammed shut on them by the priests. The sizzling of the hot wax from the church candles as it dripped into water troughs . The downfall of Ceausescu which took place in the square outside the National Theatre of Timisoara where we were working and in which many of the actors took part. The day they taped me up during the workshop in the Traverse and when I cut and pasted (for real) the speeches of Hedda Gabler, Marilyn Monroe and Nora from Dolls House and how we used the text to play a scene between these characters.

Muriel Romanes tapes up on ANA workshop, Romania 2007

The day they taped Muriel up during the workshop in the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

Megan Baker the costume designer and Philip Pinsky the composer and sound designer walked over Mount Royal today and visited St. Josephs Oratory and were as impressed as I was at the heat and first sight of the hall of lit candles.

We are just about to prepare a supper for the Scottish team and I must sign off now until the next time.

July 2008

Stella Quines goes to Imago Theatre in Montreal. The National Theatre of Timisoara do not come, although some Romanian actors take part in the workshops.

There is now a short story and some developing dialogue written by Clare Duffy that we workshop. Marel Pommerlo also writes for the project during this phase.

We talk about madness and depression and splitting and mirrors and how acting is connected to these things.

Timisoara

In September 2007 Stella Quines and Imago Theatre went to Timisoara to continue to work on the idea of Women on the Brink. There was a series of workshops where we got to know more about each other and to share the ideas that had developed since the first workshop. These ideas were presented in the form of short stories and scenes by the writers and short performances by the actors. We presented a short representation of some of these ideas at the end of the week to the public.

We talked about mothers and children and mirrors and reflections and connections.

We told stories in big groups and amongst ourselves.

Amongst ourselves someone told me about finding a dead baby in the street.

I remembered the dead baby found recently in a park in Glasgow and the young mother they eventually took away who had left it there.

Is this madness or creativity?

In November 2006 actors and writers from the National Theatre of Timisoara, Imago Theatre from Montreal and Stella Quines from Scotland met in Edinburgh to think about this question:

What is the connection between creativity and madness?

At this stage the project was called: Women on the Brink.

We talked about edges, brinks, madness, depression and joyful giddiness.

We wrote poems, played fragments of archetypal female characters, we put boxes inside boxes, inside boxes and we danced with Margie Gillis. We opened up the process to the public at the Traverse theatre as part of the Stella Quines Rehearsal Room event.