On Jessica and the Other.

As a writer tackling classical work and characters I’ve not had a problem feeling a contemporary resonance in the words, performance, character, form of anything we have produced. Yet, with Jessica In Spring I specifically wanted to address the tone, vitriol and horrendous narrative that has become a part of our politics, our media and our life over the past few years.

Brexit, Trump – 2016 was a year that apart from anything else legitimised voices that Othered. ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ – let’s blame poor people, people with a disability, different gender, immigrants, those who do not look like us. Let us not turn in and look at ourselves, let us not look to work together; let us point fingers and be rude, because that is Presidential, isn’t it?*

So Jessica came out of this place, of giving a voice to this Other – to someone who is Othered by circumstances, birth and also in her choices. Her choice to convert and marry out of her religion gives her some level of acceptance in society but she can never truly become part of the world she has made the choice to ‘join’ because she knows it for the sham it is.  Like those of us who are Othered, she knows much more of the world and her place in it than someone who has never been in that situation. I wanted her to articulate the fierceness that comes with this knowledge.

The concept of privilege is interesting to me because awareness has some bearing upon it but also those who are resolutely unaware often have the most. Jessica is privileged in some ways but she’s also Jewish and a woman in a time where she was legally a chattel of first her father and then her husband. It her experience as the Other experience that rounds her person into who her husband fell in love with – she dares the listener and him to accept her for all she is, shadows and all – rather than a beautiful construct of a good little wife. Ultimately that’s who we all are. People. I think Jessica speaks of that.

In Spring too, we have all these connotations of ‘new life’ and ‘rebirth’ of the year but this can be sad too. She is someone (in our version) who actively embraces this duality. I think her words in voiceover over the moving images works really nicely to communicate this. There are layers to her that she won’t deny.

Jessica In Soulilouqy from In Souliloquy on Vimeo.

 

So please watch AND listen – both, together, separately. She has something other to say.

 

x Tilly

 

*FFS. No it’s not and I know Orange McOrangeFace won’t read this but omg, ew, what an awful excuse for a human.

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Snout In Souliloquy – Alex Talamo / The Dig Collective – Melbourne.

Snout In Souliloquy – Alex Talamo/The Dig Collective – Melbourne from In Souliloquy on Vimeo.

A Wall For All. Built by Alex Tálamo, Melbourne, Australia.

Snout In Souliloquy (after William Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream).
Written by Tilly Lunken
Produced by Victorine Pontillon and Tilly Lunken

Actor: Dana McMillan
Director & Camera: Alex Talamo
Music: Tim Sneddon
Created by: The DIG Collective
Twitter: @TheDIGonline
Website: www.thedigcollective.com

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Dana McMillan trained her performance skills at VCA’s Acting Studio program, movement with Teresa Blake, and voice with Suzanne Heywood. Performance credits include title roles in Memmie le Blanc (Memmie) for Union House Theatre, As You Like It (Rosalind) for Melbourne University Shakespeare Company and she is a company member of Soothplayers: Completely Improvised Shakespeare. She is co-artistic director for Grub Theatre and co-director of Planning Atlantis, currently in development after an award-winning season at Mudfest 2015 (Sustainability Award and Fringe Award). Grub’s previous work Pigeon Life for Tastings Festival, which she co-wrote and devised, won a scholarship from Union House Theatre. As a writer and theatre maker, her works include the intimate and highly acclaimed piece, How are you, lovely? for Tastings Festival, and No Light for the Unprovoked Festival. Dana is an Artistic Director at The DIG Collective.

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Alex Tálamo is a director and deviser who works across visual, live and media arts. Her practice engages a process of slow dramaturgy, often working with ensembles and encouraging a multiplicity of voices within a single work. Conceptually, her work investigates outsider identities, including migrant and feminist perspectives, and is always responsive to contemporary political frameworks. Alex studied at VCA, completing a Postgraduate Diploma in Performance Creation (Animateuring, 2012). She has been the recipient of Australia Council’s Cultural Leaders of the Future (2011) and two international study tours through the Ian Potter Foundation and Art Start (2013). Her work has been shown at Performance Studies International (2016), Metanoia’s Live Works program (2015), and Activism month at FCAC (2016). She is an Artistic Director at The DIG Collective and has curated two seasons of the experimental theatre festival, Unprovoked (2013). 

Snout In Souliloquy is a continuing international digital theatre project celebrating artistic connection and collaboration across the world.

The AWARD WINNING Lavinia In Souliloquy!

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We are super chuffed to announce we have another winner among our nominations for the British Council’s #ShakespeareLives Competition! We have a huge fondness of Lavinia and are so pleased she has been recognised. It was a really rewarding collaboration with puppet maker and puppeteer Joanna May.

DSC_0398Photo by Jennifer Hook.

Tilly wrote a a bit about the piece on her personal blog.

Titus Andronicus is a violent, bloody play where many people are mutilated and murdered. Lavinia is raped and then has her tongue cut out and her hands cut off so she cannot tell her father Titus of her assault. She eventually communicates it to him and in revenge he murders her attackers before killing his daughter out of shame.

Our Lavinia’s soul speaks to us directly – this voice cuts through the silence and her pain and shouts out at the injustice of her life and death. The use of puppetry in filming this souliloquy was important to give layers to how our Lavinia with no mouth or hands shares her story.

There is an important question for all puppetry work – why a puppet? I don’t think you could have a live person acting this work. Listening to it yes, a voice disembodied but an actual actor you see I think would detract from both the violence inflicted on the character and what she was reduced to. This little puppet shows us the depths of meaning of Lavinia’s words. So, listen.

Thank you again to everyone that voted, we have plans for Lavinia for 2017 so stay tuned for further adventures from this little poppet.

Meantime, enjoy a flashback to her celebrating Shakespeare’s 400th birthday!

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Please vote for Lady Macduff In Souliloquy for #ShakespeareLives!

We are excited to announce that Lady Macduff In Souliloquy – from Cycle 4 of this project has been nominated for the #ShakespeareLives Competition. Please vote for us!

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If you have already voted for us and you return to the website, barring any glitches it should be rather easy for you because a) you are potentially still logged in or b) you already have an account so click on login and get going. DO NOT try and login through any pop ups, instead click on the login button on the menu and follow that pathway through – then find video and vote.

If you have not voted yet and would like to: Here is a link directly to the registration page: https://films.shakespearelives.org/registration/ – because it is a glitchy website it works better to register first and then watch and vote. You can also find this page by clicking the login button on the main menu, scrolling down and clicking on register a new account.

To register using an email address it won’t work unless your password is exactly 8 characters total and has a capital letter, a number and another character (#$£%!). This feature is not explicitly stated on the website and it will just block you and say there is an error with the password. We suggest choosing a six letter word – capitalising the first letter and putting the symbol and number after ie. Juliet#5 – otherwise logging in through social media is apparently easier.

If you are logging in using social media and have verified your account, you should login in via the login button and page NOT THROUGH clicking on the video vote now and subsequent pop up. This feature just doesn’t work at all.

We have done very well on this platform and would very much love to continue with that so please do vote for Lady Macduff, show her some love as she doesn’t get much in Macbeth. As mentioned in previous posts… this is such great exposure for our project and we have already had a nice little bump in views for the featured videos but we need more votes (lots of lovely round 10s please) to raise our average scores and get us shortlisted as winners. Public voting is always a difficult thing and the best way we can actually ensure we do well on this platform is for loads of people we know to give us a bit of love.

Here is the direct link to the video: https://films.shakespearelives.org/nominees/51/lady-macduff-in-souliloquy 

 

Thank you!
Tilly, Victorine and Tracey x

 

 

A Little on Feminist Writing and Representation for In Souliloquy.

I recently submitted a play to an organisation that strongly recommended the writer adding in a #DiversityPledge to the script – explicitly encouraging producers to think of a diverse and representative cast. It’s an interesting idea to get the writer engaged in this and it got me thinking again about our responsibilities as artists to reflect the world and challenge perceived norms of representation.

In Souliloquy is at the heart about re-representation. It is about the selective voices we get to hear in a text, it is about giving forgotten characters a stage and it is about entering a dialogue with classic Shakespearean texts and deepening our understanding of them. Our tagline:

A question, a consequence, a soul seeking an audience.

Is an unrelenting promise. These are voices that have something to say and they are going to say it, however confronting it might become.

Much of this engagement is explicitly feminist -the majority of the characters we have produced so far are women, for the majority of the female characters in Shakespeare’s play have little agency or have time and presence when it suits the plot and are then discarded. Characters such as Lady Macbeth (one of the most feared and reviled women) and Ophelia (the most fetishized) are so much a part of our collective culture but are silent in response. They both die offstage, their deaths only registering in brief reactions of their male love interests.

Undersung or misrepresented are the two words we chose to help shape the project early on and they have guided us through curating the characters we have chosen. It is not surprising that most are women.

Characters such as Viola and Marina are rarely taken seriously – are dismissed as silly women in silly situations. But at their core both of these women are incredibly strong, take initiative and control of their life and situation and it is them that drive the action of the plot of their plays. These pieces give them a chance to express this, a platform to share directly with an audience.

Those with a traditional happily ever after are too given chance speak beyond that. Our Titania surprises both herself and her husband and Miranda dreams of the sea. These are complicated people, who exist beyond their titles and roles in society.

Our work also addresses the graphic violence towards women in a very different way to the source texts – where it is often used as little more than a plot device (Emilia’s murder in Othello) or as a way to illustrate a man’s character development (Lady Macduff and her family’s murder in Macbeth). Lavinia of course is so brutally treated – there are no words – but to not listen is far worse.

Our other characters (female and otherwise) fall into similar patterns of reclaiming their words (Cassandra), their position in society (Doll Tearsheet), their death (Cleopatra)…

…their love (Helena) and (Katherina) and their humanity (Margaret of Anjou).

And then of course, there is Juliet – our first released video from all the way back in Cycle 1 – unpacking the meaning of her final choice.

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There is so much there in all of these words and experiences and characters – we felt the need to share these. I felt the need to write them. Because at the end of it all what is a Souliloquy? It is a testimony that we are forced to listen to.

Our Lavinia speaks of a truth that we shall one day listen.  This blog is about the truths of women in Shakespeare’s works (we have a fair few blokes given new voices and truths too) and how they might address an audience directly as so many of them are denied. The female voice and experienced is so often viewed and distorted through a male pen, lens and direction we hoped to do something a little different.

Across our four cycles of In Souliloquy we have 16 new monologues written for female characters – classical characters redefined, re-imagined – angry, wistful, playful, heartbroken, strident and defiant they exist. They address their words to you, without waiting for permission or for another to speak. This is quite an unusual feat and we feel a pretty successful realisation of how we wanted to represent these characters.

However, we had an interesting experience as a team recently that made me feel the need to justify this project in terms of feminist representation and contemporary relevance. Sometimes I think people can be a little dismissive about revisiting and engaging with classical texts. Anyway, I started this post irritated at having to explain ourselves again but I don’t feel that anymore – writing this and revisiting the performances, words, direction and our production – I know.

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Although there is always room for better, more diverse representation and we will strive for that in our developing project – In Souliloquy is proudly feminist – every step of the way.

#DiversityPledge