Standing ovations really surprised me. We don’t get that in Scotland.
Upstage Contributor Stephanie Breton spoke with Artistic Director of Imago Theatre Clare Schapiro, and Muriel Romanes Artistic Director of Stellar Quines Theatre, Scotland, about their co-production of ANA. Below is an abridged version of the interview edited by Estelle Rosen, CharPo Editor-in-chief.
|l-r Romanes, Denoncourt, Schapiro|
She won’t say this but she won the award for best director with that production.
This is a very exciting project. Much to talk about. Besides presenting it at Espace Go, this show will tour to Scotland. Serge Denoncourt is directing.
Let’s begin at the beginning. How did this come about?
I was privileged that someone gave me Muriel’s email address when we were doing Bye Bye Baby. I was told she runs this amazing company in Scotland. She responded right away saying Stella Quines is very much like Imago in that they don’t present other people’s work; they do their own work. Since I was planning a trip to Europe, we planned to get together.
I mentioned to her we were interested to do a collaboration jointly with playwrights, actors, designers and asked if she’d be interested.
What I then found out was she fell in love with Montreal 22 years ago when she appeared in The Guid Sisters (Les Belles Soeurs).
The Guid Sisters was presented in Toronto and Montreal. Standing ovations really surprised me. We don’t get that in Scotland.
From that point, I started to look at the work of Michel Tremblay. Also at that time all Tremblay’s plays were being translated. I was in some of the productions, and directed some as well.
She won’t say this but she won the award for best director with that production. She’s an incredible actor, director, and also runs Stella Quines Theatre.
Women were under-represented and over the 14 years we’ve started to address that.
Stella Quines is really a company to facilitate the creative work of women in theatre. Women were under-represented and over the 14 years we’ve started to address that.
The kinds of work that Muriel does is provocative and evocative. We’re very much on the same page in terms of aesthetic, working conditions, and process. We’re similar yet very different.
Which brings us to ANA. Both anglohones, both running our theatre companes, pinching pennies wherever we can and working professionally and paying our artists. Here we are embarking on this bilingual multilingual production working with an ocean between us – we could say multi-continental production.
[Serge Denoncourt] asked if there was anything he could do for me. So I said … remember that project we spoke about…his answer was I’d love to work on it.
How long have you been working on this production?
We started 6 years ago. We’re often asked how did we get Serge Denoncourt to Direct ANA. I met him while working together on the GRUB project which he started. At the same time as I mentioned this project to him, he had just signed with Cirque de Soleil. He wished he could work on it; he loves Scotland. Shortly after one of the Cirque de Soleil productions was postponed, we were in touch. He asked if there was anything he could do for me. So I said … remember that project we spoke about…his answer was I’d love to work on it.
So what is ANA about. We often talk about that – just want to start with the fact that I myself was going through a period of questioning what life is about. Did a bit of research and found that women in depression has reached high levels. In talking with Muriel about it we both felt we wanted to explore that. I’m going to let Muriel tell you more.
Really it’s about baby boomers; that’s what brought us together. We’ve been lucky to receive so much support for a challenging and tough project. Over the last few years, we’ve built this animal and are anxious to see what’s going to happen. There are artists, actors, designers and writers from both countries.
|Duffy with Pierre-Yves Lemieux|
I notice you have a writer from Scotland and a writer from Quebec – have they been going back and forth as well?
Yes they have. Clare Duffy has been involved from the beginning. She’ll be coming back in September and doing 10 days in Tadoussac with Playwrights Workshop Montreal retreat.
To give people an idea about the origins of the play. Though inspired by the whole question of looking at depression, it has become so clichéd. We wanted to further explore the interesting border of creativity and math. Looked at various iconic women; Sylvia Plath for one. Then we found the goddess Inanna. All those metaphors and relationships in the thought-provoking story of her descent into the underworld and her return.
So we’ve had this journey now for some 6 years and here we are with this incredible piece of work. What is it about? I think we all see parts of ourselves in ANA.
Nov. 22 to Dec. 10