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

 

 

 

 

New In Souliloquy Project Trailer!

In Souliloquy Trailer from In Souliloquy on Vimeo.

Check out our brand-spanking-new-beautiful-and-shiny project trailer – featuring performances from all four cycles of In Souliloquy.

Written by Tilly Lunken
Directed by Victorine Pontillon

(Orlando In Souliloquy written by Victorine Pontillon)

Performers/Characters: Tessa Hart (Miranda), Eliza Power (Titania), Fern McCauley (Juliet), Fran Burgoyne (Lady Macbeth), Joanna May (Lavinia), Victorine Pontillon (Margaret), Michael Bagewell (The Fool), John Last (Yorick), Kaiden du Bois (Orlando), Chris Rogers (The Soothsayer), Lydia Lane (Marina), Richard Listor (Abhorsen), Peyvand Sadeghian (Viola), Tracey Pickup (Lady Macduff), Christine Leigh Milburn (Helena), Angharad Price (Doll Tearsheet), Julia Harari (Cassandra), Shannon Howes (Emilia), Jonathan Edward Cobb (Don John), Owen Clarke (Tybalt), Neil Gordon (Cleopatra), Annie McKenzie (Katherina).

It’s exciting to see everything coming together to tell a different story – one that reflects the project and how far everything has come across the 24 monologues.

Also – please remember to vote for us for the #ShakespeareLives Shorts Competition!

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#ShakespeareLives Nominations – vote for us please!

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We have had five of our Souliloquies nominated for the British Council’s #ShakespeareLives Shakespeare Shorts Competition! Once nominated these videos are voted on by a team of judges and the general public – we would love you to register and vote for us*

You get one vote (four categories) per video – so please do vote for all our 5 nominated ones:

This is a a great platform 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) to raise our average scores and get us shortlisted as winners.

Getting nominated and being a part of this competition is really exciting for us and a wonderful acknowledgement of these great performances.

Thank you!
Tilly and Victorine x

 

*It’s a little annoying to register using an email address as it apparently 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.

 

 

 

 

In Souliloquy – Cycle 4 – character recap.

Our Cycle 4 of In Souliloquy is packed full of interesting characters from a wide range of plays – some of the names you will instantly know, a couple maybe not so much but each of them have a strong and unique voice speaking right out to you.

Cycle 4  includes: Lady Macduff, Cassandra, Orlando, Doll Tearsheet, Don, John and Marina. After Macbeth, Troilus and Cressida, As You Like It, Henry IV, Much Ado About Nothing and Pericles Prince of Tyre.

Orlando in Souliloquy is written and directed by Victorine Pontillon – all others in this cycle are written by Tilly Lunken and directed by Victorine Pontillon.

Orlando

Cassandra

Doll Tearsheet

Lady Macduff

Marina

Don John

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don John In Souliloquy.

Don John In Souliloquy from In Souliloquy on Vimeo.

A villain of little words, speaks.

Performed by Jonathan Cobb
Written by Tilly Lunken
Directed by Victorine Pontillon
After William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

In Souliloquy is devised and produced by V&T
Don John In Souliloquy is part of Cycle 4 of this project

Insouliloquy.wordpress.com
@insouliloquy

Music:
Sneaky Snitch by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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Marina In Souliloquy.

Marina In Souliloquy from In Souliloquy on Vimeo.

True strength comes from knowing yourself.

Performed by Lydia Lane
Written by Tilly Lunken
Directed by Victorine Pontillon
After William Shakespeare’s Pericles Prince of Tyre.

Special thanks to Jennifer Hook.

In Souliloquy is devised and produced by V&T
Marina in Souliloquy is part of Cycle 4 of this project.

Music:
Avec Soin by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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V&T’s Big Epic #ShakespeareSunday Souliloquy Celebration.

Today Tilly and Victorine answer “what’s your favourite part of each Souliloquy?” It goes without saying, each performance was so different, unexpected and brilliant, it’s hard to pick favourite things. However we’ve given it a good go. Here’s a chance for you to revisit ones you love and watch one’s you’ve missed.

All the Character Titles are links to the character portfolio.

Juliet

V: The calm, detached nature of Fern’s performance. It gives the heartbreak and tragedy a whole new, unspeakable level.

T: It’s always a treat when an actor surprises you. Fern just got Juliet in her own way and you feel so much for her. It’s quite a simple text, because of the character’s age but she brings such beautiful depth to that simplicity.

Lady Macbeth

T: We filmed Fran first and I cried. It was just such a rush to see and hear those words come alive in her character – she gives a gift of a performance. It’s perfection.

V: The tear. That was such a genuine and beautiful moment – to capture that was an incredible first day/first Souliloquy gift.

V&T: Also this:
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The Fool

V: Michael’s sing-songy bit. It was so significant of his whole Fool – such a cheeky, playful character yet biting and cynical.

T: I love the song in this one. Michael’s voice is often singing it in my head now – it’s such a perfect capture of both the humour and the darkness of the character.

Lavinia

V: The delicateness of Joanna & Egg’s movement. Simplicity and beauty to contrast the harshness and violence of the words.

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T: I don’t think you can perform this piece visually without a puppet. It needs that layering and I love Jo’s performance and Little Egg so much. It’s captivating.

Helena

T: The lovely earnestness that Christine brought to this is super endearing. Can’t you just imagine Helena being exactly like that? I want to hug her and reassure her it’s ok.  

V: Christine’s performance really influenced the edit on this one – so different from what I had planned, it gave me a whole new perspective! I love when actors make you think like that!

Margaret of Anjou

V: Rewriting and doing it on camera vs. stage. It really shifted the performance and the things I found in the text, which is always incredibly rewarding.

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T: Victorine is Margaret. Watching her inhabit these words is a real privilege, it was very special being in the room and witnessing her performance.

Emilia

V: The raw emotion. I have always admired Shannon’s ability to strip herself down and just go with what she is given.

T: Shannon’s heart is beating with Emilia during this performance and you are right there with her sharing in the anguish. We break as she does. After what has happened, it was never going to be ok.

Miranda

T: Casting Tessa was just perfect for this one. Her voice is so lyrical and her eyes so bright – she really brings out the depth of the character beyond a superficial happy ending. It’s magic.

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V: Tessa’s voice! Such an enchanting and mesmerizing quality. And those eyes! I’m on that island every time with her.

Yorick

V: The way John just jumped in and navigated the text so skillfully! Talk about switching gears…. He grabs you and drags you down into his World and you love him for it.

T: I love John’s performance so much. Yorick is character we had to build from nothing and he continued that process – he pops out of the screen in such an engaging way.

Richard III

T: Richard III is such a well known character that it took something special to make it new – which it is. The balance of righteousness and grief is tricky but is nailed. Great pacing to a great performance.

V: The fact that our incredible Richard came in with so many ideas and willing to play around with styles and shots, it was really about me throwing away my character preconceptions and plans!

The Soothsayer

V: Chris’ crazy. His intensity and crazy Soothsayer eyes. Never lets you off the hook!

T: The intensity that Chris brings to this role is so good and it was lovely to work with an actor that really engaged with the words. It’s dark in a way that fits so well with the character sits beautifully alongside the source text.

Viola

T: Viola was challenging to capture on the page but Peyvand brought her to life in with a softness that really lights up the screen. This one is so moving and beautiful, in spite of a lighter subject.

V: One of the first filmed at Tilly’s and it made us all a bit more relaxed I think, and that gave Peyvand’s Viola ease and simplicity (and wispy hair), which literally took my breath away!

Cleopatra

T: I love how visual this one is. Neil’s face – especially the ‘lined eyes’ which are captivating and the whole thing is shot like a painting. It’s a lovely piece of art.

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V: The edit. I wanted to do Neil & Cleo justice, and I knew it was going to be a long and complex edit unlike anything we’d done. I wanted a story within the story to really showcase the words and Neil’s transformation!

Titania

V: Eliza’s hair. Just kidding. The fun we had making it I think – Eliza just jumped straight in, and again it really infused the atmosphere of the piece and lent it that air of a midsummer night dream…

T: Eliza was a joy to work with – she just brought so much to the character and clearly relished the text. You can see it in her performance, it’s also a joy to watch!

Ophelia

T: Lillian brings such honesty to this role and that is so much a part of Ophelia’s character she is her. Her eyes confronting you and all your assumptions about her death and beauty. It’s such a strong statement, I love it.   

V: Lily’s take on Ophelia. So unexpected and unguarded, cynical and fierce.

Tybalt

V: Owen is another one of those actors that is just incredible simple and honest. It worked so well to create a Tybalt unlike any we’d ever seen. Heartbreaking.

T: Oh Tybalt! It’s so great how Owen captures the dawning comprehension of what he has lost and that while he might not be at fault the way he lived enabled the way he died. Such a waste of life. It’s really sad. 

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Abhorsen

T: There’s a creeping quietness to Richard’s performance that is very sinister. This man lives like no other and knows death like no other – this considered starkness really works in black and white.

V: Richard’s quiet and disquieting threatening performance. Again, it’s nothing you expect, and that’s what makes it interesting.  

Katherina

V: I think Annie is Kate. She had that energy and fight to her, without ever forgetting the love. And her voice is so melodious.

T: Our Kate is very determined and Annie brought such a lovely underlying strength to this performance. She might love him yet, but she’ll do so on her terms. It’s a real pleasure watching the character unfold. Great accent too!

Orlando

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T: Kaiden really embraced the poetry of Victorine’s writing with this one – it’s so lovely and moving the way he tells his story and isn’t afraid to acknowledge how his experience has changed him for the better.

V: Kaiden’s melange of playfulness and quiet introspection. I’ve never let anyone perform my writing before, so it was a big moment to see him do so with such grace and honesty.

Cassandra

T: The darkness of this one is complex and builds. Julia looks so fragile and yet Cassandra is fully embracing her bloody end. It’s a nice dramatic dynamic that really works.

V: The tone. We worked so hard to get it just right, and I think it payed off. Beautiful Julia, threatening words, and a very dark melancholic vibe.

Doll Tearsheet

V: The corset! I jest. But actually, I think it informed Annie’s performance and helped her find more layers to Doll. Softness and seductiveness all meshed together perfectly.

T: Annie brings a nice vulnerability to Doll – it’s an intimate and layered performance. She’s kind of playing the space between ‘I’m fine, get lost’ and ‘please help me’ – it’s a tightrope and she dances beautifully along it.

Lady Macduff

T: A wonderful complete performance here by Tracey. Lady Macduff guides you through every corner of her grief and anger – it’s a record of the unrecorded and a defiant interpretation. She is continually heart breaking in so many different ways.

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V: Tracey was another who came in with so many ideas – I loved that so much! I just said “F**k it” to my plans, and went along for the gut-wrenching ride with her.

Marina (to be released 22nd Aug)

V: I think Marina represents a lot of our whole In Souliloquy journey. There is such simple beauty in this once again – Lydia is a gorgeous storyteller. And no she hasn’t made me cry. Repeatedly.

T: Beautiful. Lydia brought so much to this character, there is such steel in her performance and such power in her delivery of Marina. It’s just means so much – and makes me cry for good reasons! I want to grow up and be Marina.

Don John (to be released 23rd Aug)

T: John nailed Don John and you just believe in his contempt for others, but you also know where that has come from so you root for him. I love how engaged he is, you are going to listen to what he has to say – now he wants to say it.

V: John’s eyes! He is so captivating and inviting – my kind of villain! His focus never relents, it’s amazing.

Thank you to all our wonderful performers. It’s been a true pleasure to have you along for this journey. Love V&T x

 

Lady Macduff In Souliloquy.

A mother’s attempt to record the silence.

Performed by Tracey Pickup
Written by Tilly Lunken
Directed by Victorine Pontillon
After William Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

In Souliloquy is devised and produced by V&T
Lady Macduff In Souliloquy is part of Cycle 4 of this project.

Music:
Virtutes Instrumenti by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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Doll Tearsheet In Souliloquy.

Time to give something back to she who is forever open.

Performed by Angharad Price
Written by Tilly Lunken
Directed by Victorine Pontillon
After William Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part II.

In Souliloquy is devised and produced by Victorine Pontillon and Tilly Lunken.
Doll Tearsheet In Souliloquy is part of Cycle 4 of this project.

Danse Morialta by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: by Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

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Cassandra In Souliloquy.

Performed by Julia Harari
Written by Tilly Lunken
Directed by Victorine Pontillon
After William Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida.

In Souliloquy is devised and produced by V&T

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Knowing can be such comfort to a bloody end.