Our ANSWERS ON A POSTCARD project invites you to IMAGINE what theatre might look like – on stage, backstage and in the office – if we all felt able to call out unacceptable behaviour.
Our ANSWERS ON A POSTCARD project invites you to IMAGINE what theatre might look like – on stage, backstage and in the office – if we all felt able to call out unacceptable behaviour.
Last week Hannah, our Company Administrator, became our Green Champion and attended her first Creative Carbon Scotland Conference. Read on to find out the latest updates on becoming an environmentally friendly theatre world.
As I’m still fairly new to Stellar Quines, I didn’t really know what to expect from this particular conference but I was amazed by the breadth of sustainable activity in our sector. There were talks on everything from how to meet international standards of environmental compliance to how homemade knitted props have reduced the carbon impact of a production. One particular highlight was seeing how enthusiastic everyone was at the prospect of adopting local theatre bees – the Lyceum bee hive project may have started off a viral trend of bee adoption across Scotland!
One of the most important parts of the day was a reminder from Adaptation Scotland about the consequences of climate change and how our environment stands to change. It was a helpful reminder that committing to sustainability is more than simply checking boxes, it’s making sure that how we operate doesn’t damage our environment for future generations. I certainly went home with a new network of sustainable companies and exciting plans to make Stellar Quines even more sustainable in the future.
Useful Reading: Green Arts Initiative
Meet Adela who is spending a few months with us here at Stellar Quines as an intern. We asked her to share with you some of her experiences while working with the Quines. Last week was very interesting for her…
Last week, I had the opportunity to go to Glasgow to assist with the rehearsals of the new production of Stellar Quines and Grid Iron.
As I hadn’t been to Glasgow, I went the day before to visit the city. I’ve heard some bad critics about the city before I went but I was agreeably surprised. It’s a lively city with a lot to see and so much to do. I’ve been visiting the University, Kelvingrove, the Gallery of Modern Art and it was lovely.
But let’s focus on the next day.
Bingo!, the new comedy musical of Stellar Quines & Grid Iron, is about gambling, the power of the money, relationships that can exist between a mother and her daughter, but also between everyone in a community. What I’ve loved about the text is (even if I didn’t get every joke because of my frenglish) it was really funny. Each character is endearing in its own way. I’ve been doing a lot of first reading at the Academy in Belgium, but being part of a rehearsal of an original play with professionals is really different.
Maybe I’m a little bit too impressionable but even for a first time, I’ve found it brilliant.
Check back soon for more thoughts from Adela on her time with the Quines.
Bingo! is a new comedy musical, written by Johnny McKnight & Anita Vettesse presented by Stellar Quines and Grid Iron and will be touring from March 2018.
Today Stellar Quines announce their support and plan of action in response the #MeToo campaign that has spread across our industry over the past month since the allegations against Harvey Weinstein and others were revealed.
We are working with partners in the Scottish arts industry, uniting together to instigate change.
We invite you to join our #Respectis campaign on social media sharing up to 3 words, in text, sound, film or images, anyway you prefer which sum up what RESPECT means to you on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.
We want this collective response to the bravery of disclosure seen through #Metoo to make a statement about what behaviours we expect and demand. We will use your words of hope as an inspiration for our next steps as an industry and a movement.
Soon we will be announcing a new project Answers on a Postcard where you can engage through a process of creative sharing. We are also be collating information and articles for you to read to help inform what is happening.
Join the conversation #Respectis
Meet Adela who is spending a few months with us here at Stellar Quines as an intern. We asked her to share why she wanted to come and work with the Quines.
My name is…
My name is Adela Martinez. I’m 18 years old and I come from a small town in the South of Belgium. I’ve just finished High School and I’ve been studying drama since I was 11.
A few years ago, I decided to start studying drama as a profession but first, I wanted to take a year off to work in the theatre area, take time to make sure that’s what I want, meet people already working in this sector and also prepare my audition for the theatre school (I already have nightmares about it).
Lucky me, my parents have always been supporting me to do what makes me happy and for now, nothing makes me more enthusiastic than theatre.
Taking a year off also meant the opportunity to travel, to improve my English and above all meet people sharing my interest in drama. So, I started to search for a theatre company that would have been happy to welcome me as a volunteer. I have been sending e-mails for months and most of the answers were negatives. Until one day, I find two who were ready to give me a chance, Strange Town first and then Stellar Quines. I was really excited to have the opportunity to work with both.
So, I’m actually working with Strange Town as a volunteer assistant in some primary schools for after school drama sessions in parallel with Stellar Quines.
Now I’m really proud to be part of this. First of all because Stellar Quines propose a theater of quality managed by women. I have not yet had the opportunity to see one of their productions but all I’ve heard is positive.
I was also happily surprised that their next production is none other than an adaptation of a French novel.
I arrived in Edinburgh with no specific work expectation, what I wanted most of all was learn by realizing several tasks that will afford me to fully understand the various aspects of this profession.
As soon as I met Rebecca, she explained to me all the things I was going to do during my internship. I felt really comfortable because she immediately made me feel useful, which was what I needed.
The hardest thing when you come to work and live in a city, a country you don’t know isn’t the language but (in my opinion) it’s the people and how they make you feel comfortable.
Stellar Quines give me the opportunity to meet actors, writers, directors and a lot more people making theatre happen.
Check back soon for more thoughts from Adela and her time with the Quines.
This weekend sees the inaugural WOW – Women of the World Festival, Perth. The Festival is being held at Perth Concert Hall and will open with an event featuring the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.
The main Festival takes place over Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th and comprises a fantastic programme of talks, comedy, dance and discussion. It’s going to be lively!
There are special Weekend Passes which are fantastic value and give you access to most events, or you can just attend for one day.
WOW is the largest women’s festival in the world, and since launching at London’s Southbank Centre in 2010, now takes place in over 20 countries on 5 continents from Finland to Pakistan and from New York to Katherine in Australia’s Northern Territory with the Indigenous group of women there.
Join the movement – and see you at WOW Perth.
Tonic Theatre has joined forces with Nick Hern Books to create Platform – an online bookshop where you can access scripts that put the stories of girls centre stage. Aimed at addressing gender imbalance in theatre, Platform comprises big-cast plays with predominantly or all-female casts, written specifically for performance by young actors.
As our mission and vision is to celebrate the stories and voices of women and girls we wanted to let you know about Platform and we feel this is an excellent resource for teachers and youth theatres that are looking for plays that have strong roles for girls.
There are many more titles available to buy individually or special offers for bundles of scripts. Check it out and fill your bookshelves!
Stellar Quines & Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society are hosting a family friendly coffee morning for parents in the performing arts at Fringe Central, Appleton Tower on Monday 14 August.
Join other parents/carers and their children at an informal coffee morning. A chance to relax, socialise, reconnect with the sector and chat about the barriers facing carers working in the performing arts.
A crèche is available from 10.30-15.00, places are free but limited and will be assigned on a first come first serve basis. This crèche is suitable for those caring for pre-school children, however we welcome older children to join the coffee morning. To book a crèche place or to inform us of any access needs, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stellar Quines Theatre Company is looking to recruit a Creative Learning Associate.
Deadline: Friday 18 August, 12PM
Stellar Quines retains a unique position within the cultural ecology of Scotland, as one of the few arts organisations whose primary occupation is concerned with the role of women and girls.
Our vision is to be Scotland’s leading touring theatre company, inspiring excellence in women & girls supported by our mission to Celebrate the value and diversity of women and girls by making brilliant theatre, provoking change, nurturing artists and empowering participation.
Stellar Quines is both a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee having no share capital. It is governed by its charitable objects and Memorandum and Articles of Association.
The Creative Learning Associate will be responsible for developing and delivering a wide-ranging programme of learning, outreach and participatory activities. This post will be driven by the candidate’s artistic enquiry, framed by Stellar Quines’ vision and mission.
This is a new post that will introduce a new focus for the company; connecting with communities, young people, educational institutions and offering skills & training opportunities. The post holder will deliver on our strategic priority to increase participation and learning, while enabling and developing participants, which in return will feed into and inspire our wider programme.
SKILLS & PERSON SPECIFICATION
Stellar Quines is committed to promoting Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. We welcome and encourage applications from people of all backgrounds, particularly applications from people returning to work from parental/caring responsibilities, and black, asian and minority ethnic (BAME) candidates.
To apply please send the following documents to email@example.com
Deadline: Friday 18th August 2017 at 12pm
If you would like to have an informal chat about joining Stellar Quines please contact Jemima Levick, Artistic Director | Chief Executive, at firstname.lastname@example.org
JAIMINI Jethwa was one year old when she and her parents were forced to leave Uganda and move to Dundee. That was in August 1972, when Uganda’s larger than life president Idi Amin had ordered the expulsion of all 80,000 Asian Ugandans from the country within a ninety-day period or else face the consequences. Before they left, Jethwa’s father had his own business, but Amin took that and everything else. When Jethwa’s family arrived in Dundee, her father had £7 in his pocket, and they were housed on a council estate in Fintry.
With little memory of the country where she was born, Jethwa and her family were the only family of colour on the estate. Any discussion within the family of who they were and how they ended up there was taboo. Jethwa became a film-maker, has worked on short films for the BBC, and developed specialist skills working with vulnerable young people and adults. Even though she was now based at Abertay University, she still had questions she wanted to ask about where she was from, and why as a child she’d been scared to go outside for reasons she couldn’t understand.
Jethwa was coming up to her fortieth birthday, and was in Spain. Conscious of how her own anniversary tallied with the fortieth anniversary of the expulsion, she found herself writing a poem. It wasn’t a documentary poem like the films she worked on, but was something both more personal and dramatic. Jethwa wanted to expand on this, and, through Creative Scotland’s International fund, visited Uganda. Once here, she talked to people who knew Amin and others who had lived through his terrors.
The result of this is The Last Queen of Scotland, Jethwa’s new dramatisation of the Asian Ugandan experience in response to being forced into exile by Amin’s brutal regime. Produced by Stellar Quines Theatre Company with support from the National Theatre of Scotland and Dundee Rep, the play, like her prodigal’s return, has seen Jethwa to face up to some of her personal demons.
“In a way it was me trying to find Idi Amin,” she says, mid-way through talking about a journey to writing The Last Queen of Scotland that was as much a mental and emotional one as it was physical. “I was reading books and watching films, and just became immersed in everything about him. It was like I was with Idi Amin all the time. He saturated my brain, and I wanted to follow in his footsteps. To exorcise the trauma I had to get close to him, so close that it made me sick, because I was frightened.
“It was the same as when I was a toddler, and I was scared to go out because I was frightened of seeing soldiers on the street. I didn’t know where that came from, because, culturally, Indian people don’t like to talk about what happened at all. Indian people are very good at moving forward. It was just something that happened, and then you moved on. I began to become aware of it all when I was about sixteen, and I started to make correlations in my mind. I decided that I had to face up to my fears, and the only way of doing that was by going back to Uganda.”
By this time, Jethwa had met Giles Foden at a symposium in London. Foden’s novel, The Last King of Scotland, was a fictional account of Amin’s regime which went on to be adapted for a film directed by Kevin Macdonald and starring Forest Whittaker and James McAvoy. After Jethwa explained to Foden the story she wanted to tell, Foden gave his blessing to the as-yet-unwritten play and its title.
“A lot of people who came from Uganda were sent to Leicester,” says Jethwa, “but we ended up in Dundee. When I started researching Idi Amin and learnt about his obsession with Scotland, it made me think, because he took Uganda off me, and we came here, and then he wanted to take Scotland off me, and I thought, nah, you’re not having that.”
Rather than tell her own story, Jethwa has fleshed out her play with her own fiction of a young woman older than her, and who remains more aware of what was going on when she left Uganda.
“I decided I wanted to do something that was visceral,” says Jethwa, “and which was something that could touch people. This is my love letter to Dundee for giving me a life. It’s a local story in that way, a community story. Dundee was quite a tough city when I first came here, and the play looks at trying to fit in. The character in the play gets into some very dangerous situations, and I think what I want the play to shed a light on is how she comes through that. One of the reasons I wanted to get this story out there is for people who are going through something similar now, and who might be confused about it. It’s also about owning your own history, and to not be ashamed of it.”
As directed by Stellar Quines artistic director and former head of Dundee Rep, Jemima Levick, and performed by Rehanna MacDonald, The Last Queen of Scotland previews in Dundee before forming part of this year’s Made in Scotland showcase at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
“We’re living in a different cultural climate,” says Jethwa. “Dundee is a multi-cultural city now, but if you go to the outskirts, like any place there’s still some old school ideas around. Other than that, Dundee has been transformed.”
Jethwa illustrates this with a story that took place just before she visited Uganda. “I was really nervous about going, and I went to the pub and bumped into these black Ugandan people. I was just staring at them, and eventually went and talked to them. It turned out they were at the University and were staying in Dundee. Part of me thought that me going to Uganda was going to be the end of my life, but these people put me in touch with their pals over there, and were really helpful.”
As a film-maker, Jethwa is conscious about wanting her story to reach as wide an audience as possible. If her play was to be filmed, there is so much she could expand on, she says. As a play too, Jethwa wants The Last Queen of Scotland to leave its mark.
“I want to try and open up theatre in a new style,” she says. “So many stories about refugees are restricted to black and Asian theatre, and one of my challenges is to get this to a mass audience. I would like to see it put on in Uganda, as well as other places where there is a big issue of segregation. That story is relevant anywhere. It’s not just about refugees, but obviously where we are politically just now makes that really important as well. There were people coming over here from Uganda who didn’t have a choice where they lived, and who came here with nothing. But it’s not just about the expulsion of Asians from Uganda. It has to have a resonance about human beings anywhere.”
The Last Queen of Scotland previews at Dundee Rep, July 21-22 then plays at Underbelly in Edinburgh, August 3-26, 6.50pm
Neil Cooper – The Herald
Tell us a bit about The Last Queen of Scotland.
The Last Queen of Scotland is inspired by writer Jaimini’s experience of the Ugandan Asian expulsion, and her move to Dundee as an immigrant in the early 70’s. It is about how she chose to explore her past in order to be in control of her future – a story of where she came from and where she now belongs. To quote Jaimini it is a ‘love letter to the D… you know, fir giving me a hame.’
This is Jaimini’s first play. Her background is in film making but not in theatre and the play has not been a traditional commission. Jaimini had an idea about what she wanted to write and Jemima Levick (Stellar Quines’ Artistic Director) alongside George Aza-Selinger (former Literary Manager at the National Theatre of Scotland), have spent about four years working with Jaimini, to get to the point of a joint co-commission by Dundee Rep and the NTS, and the play being produced by Stellar Quines.
Having been on this journey with Jaimini we’re all excited to be at a point where we can share this story with audiences.
Why is it important for people to see it?
It’s an untold Scottish story and an important part of Scottish social history. It’s also a story of forced migration and the very human impact that had. Given what we’re living through at the moment this feels particularly pertinent.
At Stellar Quines we want to make work that inspires women and girls, and the play does that. It’s about knowing who you are, and belonging and defeating the powers that be from controlling you.
Who would you recommend comes to see The Last Queen of Scotland?
The play is an exciting new voice, in it’s in Dundonian dialect and it’s a little know story. Patricia Panther who recently provided lead vocals for Basement Jaxx’s latest album, Junto, will also be composing and performing the music.
So I would recommend it to people who are seeking an engaging theatrical experience that will not only entertain but provoke new thinking and hopefully good conversation afterwards. Those who are interested in hearing a new voice from Scotland and finding out about more about this period in history. Anyone who has felt conflicted about who they are and where they belong who will share in someone’s journey to solve that.
What’s next for you after the Fringe?
We’re thrilled to be working on a co-production with The Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh and Scottish Dance Theatre of a new stage adaptation of Marguerite Duras‘ The Lover which is an exotic tale of remembered passion fusing spoken word, music and evocative dance.https://www.stellarquines.com/productions/the-lover/ The play will be presented at The Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh 20 Jan 2018 – 3 February and tickets are on sale now.
Are there any other shows you’re hoping to catch at the festival?
There are so many! We’re part of the Made in Scotland showcase http://www.madeinscotlandshowcase.com/ this year and we’re certainly going to attempt to see as much as we can from our fellow showcase members.
Timings and ticket information for The Last Queen of Scotland are available on the edfringe website
Stellar Quines and Glasgow Women’s Library have launched a Play Amnesty to showcase female playwriting talent.
The Play Amnesty is a call out for plays written by women. As we both champion female voices we are asking people to donate copies of plays and scripts written by women that have been published, produced and/or performed for a new drama shelf.
To reflect the rich diversity of the Glasgow Women’s Library’s collection plays are sought from female writers of any nationality. The Library is particularly keen to receive plays that have a female focus, or strong roles for women, and writing from the Trans community and Women of Colour. Plays not written in the English language are also welcomed.
Plays can be posted to or dropped off at Glasgow Women’s Library or donated at one of our Amnesty Drop Off points.
Alongside the public Amnesty we will be working with Glasgow Women’s Library to ensure culturally diverse voices are represented in their collection of plays, identifying women playwrights and sourcing plays. The plays will be available to members and will be used by the Library’s Drama Queens Group for readings.