l-r Magalie Lepin Blondeau and Dominque Leduc
(photo: Tristan Brand)
ANA is a bilingual show but everyone will understand.
Upstage Contributor Stephanie Breton spoke wiith playwright Pierre Yves Lemieux about Scottish-Quebec co-production ANA. Below is an abridged version edited by Estelle Rosen, CharPo editor-in-chief.
How’s the ANA voyage?
We found an easy way to start the voyage. At the beginning of the process, ANA splits. When she splits, she doesn’t double herself into the same person. She becomes someone totally different. She has a new body, a new language, a new country. In that way each of us were able to write a lot of different scenes, then combine them afterwards.
In the end the result is amazing. Two months ago I wasn’t sure if it would work. I went to rehearsal yesterday; it’s working.
We should specify that this is a co-production between a Scottish company Stella Quines, and a Quebec company Imago Theatre in Montreal. Did you write in French or in English or both?
Co-writer Claire Duffy wrote in English, I wrote in French. We translated some scenes.
Is there a literal translation happening at the same time during the show?
There are sub-titles in both languages. ANA is a bilingual show but everyone will understand. Sometimes we have a character speaking in French speaking with some characters in English.
Have you ever done a project like this?
Never. It was very special for many reasons. Two different playwrights, two different countries; everything is doubled in this show including double work! In the end the result is amazing. Two months ago I wasn’t sure if it would work. I went to rehearsal yesterday; it’s working.
What’s really interesting is that it’s the kind of show you travel with the actors. Not a difficult story to follow but you have to let go and embrace the magic feeling. We travel with different women in different space and different time.
The people around this character just think she’s crazy but in fact the audience knows she really sees something from the past or the future.
Is the story about ANA’s life or women in general?
It’s about her life. She travels from the beginning of the world to today covering our history including the history of women. Though travelling in the same body, she changes herself remaining connected with the other bodies.
Sometimes we have a scene in the present and she has a flash from the past or the future. We wonder why she’s having this flash but a few scenes later we see she’s reacting to something that happened in the past or the future. The people around this character just think she’s crazy but in fact the audience knows she really sees something from the past or the future. In that way the character is always sympathetic for us.
Did you have to do a lot of research on the different eras?
ANA in the 50s is a quiet sweet woman in appearance; in fact she’s not and cannot stand it for long.
Yes and no. We decided each of us would write about an era we like. I was really taken with the significant Darwin period because we’re talking about changes to our way of thinking. I worked on Darwin many years ago. In fact ANA meets Darwin. We have another meeting with Freud. With that kind of character we have to include analysts.
Claire Duffy was very interested in the French Revolution so she wrote a scene about that. The experience was fun and inspirational.
We go from the 50s to the 70s to now. ANA in the 50s is a quiet sweet woman in appearance; in fact she’s not and cannot stand it for long. When her frustration leads her to expode, her husband asks did you take your pill this morning. But she’s not crazy, she wants to talk about her roots. At the beginning of the show she’s a goddess.
Is there one actress playing ANA or more than one?
We have six actresses; three from Scotland and three from Quebec, who play more than one ANA. There is one male director who plays all the men in the show.
To Dec. 10