Muriel’s Montreal Diary – entry three

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.

We have come to the end of rehearsals and tomorrow we move into the theatre to have the first work through with the set and without any tech.

Part of the cast in the rehearsal room, EspaceGo Montreal

Round the table in Rehearsals for ANA

This will give the actors a chance to get used to the space. On Wednesday they will do the same and on Thursday the actors will be in costume parade and in the evening a run through and notes. Friday there will be a cue to cue technical. Serge gives really wonderful notes and encourages everyone to work in an ensemble way.

Last week EspaceGo gave a lunch for us all and we had lashings of smoked salmon and cream cheese and all washed down with rosé wine. In the evening Alain invited the entire Scottish contingent to his house for dinner which was delightful. Although we had a death defying journey there in Clare Schapiro’s husband’s Land Rover which was able to transport everyone to the other side of the Mount Royal in one journey.

Clare Schapiro and Muriel Romanes

Our two Artistic Directors, Clare (left) and Muriel (right)

I have a meeting with the Quebec writer Jennifer Tremblay and her translator Shelley Tepperman at the beginning of next week to talk about her play The List, which will be presented through Stellar Quines’ Rehearsal Room on Thursday 26 January 2012 at the Traverse theatre. I am also having a meeting with Martin Bowman this weekend to talk about A Live Bird in the Mouth, Stellar Quines’ next production.

This week Megan and Frances took a bus trip into the Laurentian Mountains and were dropped in the middle of nowhere, luckily they found a diner which all sounds a bit like an old movie scenario maybe Bus Stop?! But they had a crazy but good time. And Philip Pinsky went to Quebec City for the weekend to visit friends, while I walked the streets of Montreal looking for a knitting shop as diversion therapy.

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.

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.

Twenty Ten and Eleven

Clare and Pierre-Yves work together to complete ANA . Clare goes to Montreal in April 2010. Pierre-Yves Lemieux, Serge Denoncourt and Clare Shapiro come to Edinburgh in June 2010 workshop first draft with actors. Clare goes to Skye to write Act One.

The world is so changeable mama, the birds fly, the waves roll, the stars spin, even the earth moves, very slowly but it does. I hide here and watch the cliff rocks fall into the sea. Even the island there will disappear one day.