Village Pub Theatre / Stellar Quines event – call out for submissions

The Village Pub Theatre and Stellar Quines are collaborating to create an evening of new short plays to celebrate International Day of the Girl on October 11th 2017

International Day of the Girl is a global campaign to raise awareness of the inequality faced by girls around the world based on their gender. This inequality includes areas such as right to education/access to education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care, violence against women, unfree child marriage and protection from discrimination.

As part of this event we would like to hold open submissions for playwrights of any level of experience to submit a short play, no longer than 10minutes long that responds to the theme ‘the role of the girl’. We are looking for people to interpret this theme in a variety of ways but roughly we are looking for writers to explore what role girl’s play in our society, how they relate to other people, how other people relate them.

Stellar Quines and Village Pub Theatre will select three of these plays to be performed on 11th October by a team of professional actors and director at the Village Pub Theatre, Leith.

There is a fee available of £100 for the selected plays plus travel. You must be free to attend rehearsals and performance in Leith on 11th October in order to be considered.

Please submit your 10 minute play by midnight on Sunday 24th September using the online form

Please note files will be uploaded to Stellar Quines’ Google Drive. To allow for file upload you will be required to sign in to Google to access the form. If you do not have a google account you will need to create one. If you would prefer not to submit a form via google please email Rebecca Davis with Village Pub Theatre in the subject title (Rebecca is on annual leave until the 18 September and will reply to queries promptly on her return).

Neil Cooper talks to writer Jaimini Jethwa about going back to her roots

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

 

Broadway World Q&A on The Last Queen of Scotland

Broadway World asked Director Jemima Levick a few questions about her forthcoming production The Last Queen of Scotland

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

Help shape the future direction of Stellar Quines

Over 23 years Stellar Quines has grown its reputation as one of Scotland’s longest serving and successful theatre companies with a unique position within the Scottish theatre community.

In a period of change and thinking about our future, Stellar Quines theatre company would like to know more about our audiences based on evidence rather than assumptions – and we need your help.

Please complete our short survey, whether or not you have attended any Stellar Quines plays or other events, or even heard of the company before.

Everyone who completes the survey by 28 Feb will be entered into a prize draw for a chance to win £150 in vouchers of your choice. Full prize draw information is at the end of the survey. Your responses to the survey are confidential and your data will not be shared.

Please contact clair@culturerepublic.co.uk if you have any questions about the research.

Many thanks for your support,

The Stellar Quines Team

Stellar Quines & Glasgow Women’s Library Play Amnesty

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.

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. The project has the support of two of Scotland’s leading playwrights Linda McLean and Lynda Radley who have commited to donate their work to the drama shelf.

Linda Maclean, playwright:

When I was growing up I didn’t know that it was possible to be a playwright and a woman and alive. And while I comfort myself that things are changing I often meet people who cannot name a female playwright. I am so glad Stellar Quines and Glasgow Women’s Library is having a Play Amnesty.  It is such a positive step towards recording the many plays by women, living and dead, who have contributed to the body of Scottish Theatre, and who deserve to shine.

Lynda Radley, playwright:

I am delighted to donate copies of my published work to Glasgow Women’s’ Library, an organisation I have been aware of since I first moved to Glasgow eleven years ago. Glasgow Women’s Library provides excellent tailored resources including safe spaces for women to learn and to grow, resurrects fascinating local her stories and curates a programme of work that celebrates and challenges. Their values mirror those of Stellar Quines, an organisation I have also had to pleasure of being nurtured by, and I feel honoured that my work will sit alongside that of other female playwrights in Glasgow Women’s Library. 

The Amnesty closed on the 28th February with the drama shelf is to be unveiled on the 8th March to mark International Women’s Day.

Drama Shelf Launch

Glasgow Women’s Library

Wednesday 8th March, 2.00 – 4.30pm – Free – all ages welcome.

Tea and cake served from 1.30pm

A launch event at Glasgow Women’s Library will include readings by the Library’s Drama Queens group, and workshop sessions with playwright’s Linda McLean and Lynda Radley and a discussion and Q&A with Stellar Quines Artistic Director Jemima Levick.

Come along and join in championing and celebrating the stories of women and girls.

Thanks to Playwright’s Studio, Tron Theatre, Traverse Theatre, Dundee Rep Theatre, Shetland Arts & Horsecross Arts for supporting the project and collection of plays during the Play Amnesty.

 

You can still post plays & scripts to:

Play Amnesty 

Glasgow Women’s Library, 23 Landressy St, Glasgow, G40 1BP

 

Play Amnesty Press Release

Results of PiPA research published – 8 out of 10 parents turn down work

The results of the research carried out by Parents in Performing Arts (PiPA) have been published and reveal the astonishing, but possibly not surprising fact that eight out of ten parents turn down theatre work owing to childcare possibilities.

Over 950 people responded to the survey and 81% of those who are self employed have had to turn down work and 57% of people who are employed had also declined work due to caring responsibilities.

The full results were published in The Stage today and make for interesting reading.

Stellar Quines is pleased to be part of the nationwide consortium.

Claire Dow

How would you describe your current work and what do you like best about it?

I’m a creative producer for theatre and events. I enjoy the variety of shapes that they can take, from coming up with my own creative projects and making them happen, to facilitating and supporting others to deliver their projects through coaching, consultation or management.

I’m currently standing in for Jemima Levick while she’s been away on maternity leave. It’s been an honour to work with the Stellar Quines’ team and support them through an exciting time of change. Next I’ll be leading on the Theatre and Dance Touring Research for Creative Scotland with Lisa Baxter founder and Director of The Experience Business, due to be published in February 2017.

What was your first ever job?

My first job was with a t-shirt printers, I loaded wet printed shirts into the conveyor dryer. Then I folded and packed them. At my best I could fold and pack 4.5 shirts per minute. It was a fantastic small company which took long lunches and played Jimi Hendrix too loudly. I worked there part time along with crewing shows and being a technician part time, they were fantasic at letting me come and go when it suited me.

What made you decide to work in the arts and what role have you enjoyed the most?

I remember vividly the moment I realized that theatre could be a paid job. I was on a youth theatre placement with Druid Theatre Company in Galway, and it was the opening night of Poor Beast in The Rain by Billy Roche. I had finished setting up on stage, I turned and saw all the seats and realized that people would be coming to see it in real life. It was so exciting, I was hooked. I managed to hang around long enough to get work with Druid and never looked back.

My favourite role to date has been producing the People’s Tower; Dundee’s Royal Arch. It was something I instigated and drove through and it was a wild success. The arch was made out of 1200 cardboard boxes and took all day to build! My favourite moment was toppling the 17m high arch and trampling the cardboard boxes with hundreds of overexcited kids who couldn’t believe their luck.

Has there been a particular person or an opportunity that you feel has made the most difference to your career?

Early in my career, a production manager called Tony Kileen in Druid allowed me to go on tour for a week, if I swore I wouldn’t miss my uni lectures or classwork. I went on tour and never went back to uni! He later directed me to degrees in stage management in the UK which brought me over to Scotland. The opportunity to study here changed my life and I am grateful to have been welcomed in to study without tuition fees, and without a thought to emigration or free movement issues.

What do you like the best about working within the arts?

Without doubt the people. You get to meet and work with such articulate, clever and talented people. Its surprising and inspiring. I think that the theatre sector in Scotland is blessed with a generosity of support for each other and an ecology that shares information and encouragement. I love the moment when the lights go down and an audience are present, in the moment, sharing an experience together that exists nowhere else. Its magic.

What advice would you give women looking at a career in the arts today?

Take the time to think about what is important to you. What are the projects you’ve seen that have excited you most? Find people doing work that gives you energy and inspires you and work with them. If you can’t find that, then make it happen yourself and others will come to you.

Be truthful and generous with others, find ways to build your communities of support so you have a place to share your successes and challenges with peers. It’s the most valuable thing, to know that others are there and can help, and that you can help others.

 Who would be your Stellar Quine of the month and why?

Julie Ellen, she’s had a huge influence on me and my career in terms of development and moving into arts management. Working with her at Playwrights’ Studio, Scotland she taught me how to be a leader and a manager, by being an example of what a generous manager and leader can be. We learn from the people who are our bosses, and I hope to emulate her ability to challenge and support people to reach their potential.

www.clairedow.org

Stellar Quines announce two World Premieres in NTS 2017 Season

We are excited to announce that Stellar Quines will be working with National Theatre of Scotland on two World Premiere productions in their 2017 Season. Jemima Levick will direct both The 306: Day by Oliver Emanuel and Gareth Williams and The Last Queen of Scotland by Jaimini Jethwa.

WORLD PREMIERE

 National Theatre of Scotland and Horsecross Arts and Stellar Quines present

 The 306: Day

Written by Oliver Emanuel, composed by Gareth Williams, directed by Jemima Levick

Touring Scotland from 4 to 27 May 2017

The 306: Day is the second part of Oliver Emanuel and Gareth William’s powerful new First World War trilogy, charting the heart-breaking journey of the 306 men executed for cowardice and desertion during the conflict and the devastating consequences for those they left behind. This second part in the trilogy theatrically explores how the war affected women, families, and communities on the home front.

 The first part of the trilogy, The 306: Dawn, premiered in the summer of 2016 and was set around the events of the Battle of the Somme, marking the centenary of the Somme Offensive. Audaciously staged within a transformed barn in the Perthshire countryside, and co-produced with Horsecross Arts and 14-18 NOW, the play charted the real-life stories of three soldiers fighting on the front line who were to be executed for their actions.

Inspired by real events and first-hand accounts, The 306: Day follows the lives of three ordinary women fighting to be heard above the clamour of World War 1. The date is 1917, and the war across the channel rages on. In Russia, a revolution is turning the social order on its head while at home in Britain, there are women fighting their own battles. Rents are rising. Food is scarce. And war work can be deadly.

Nellie Murray works at a Glasgow munitions factory but is also a member of the Women’s Peace Crusade.

Struggling to cope after the execution of her husband for cowardice, Gertrude Farr has a young daughter and doesn’t know where to turn.

Mrs Byers waits for news of her son. He ran off to join the army at the beginning of the war and she prays for word of his safe return.

The 306: Day is a new piece of music theatre about staying silent and speaking out, fighting for peace and giving into violence. It tells the forgotten story of three women in wartime and their struggle to survive in a world that won’t listen.

The National Theatre of Scotland reunites with Horsecross Arts and collaborates with Stellar Quines for the first time, under the new Artistic Directorship of Jemima Levick. The National Theatre of Scotland is also delighted to partner with Glasgow Women’s Library for the first time on an accompanying project researching the role of women on the home front during the First World War.

“(The) most brilliantly moving of elegies”- ***** The Herald on The 306: Dawn

“An indelibly powerful work of music theatre that will have an impact for many years to come”- **** The Scotsman on The 306: Dawn

The 306: Day continues the collaboration between playwright Oliver Emanuel and composer Gareth Williams and their interest in combining theatrical and operatic disciplines. This new show will be directed by Stellar Quines’ Artistic Director Jemima Levick and will be performed in civic halls and centres around Scotland.

Oliver Emanuel’s work for the National Theatre of Scotland includes Dragon (winner, Best Production for Families, UK Theatre Awards 2014) and The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, based on Neil Gaiman’s book of the same name. Gareth Williams’ compositions have featured in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, St. Magnus Festival, Sound Festival, 5:15, Tête à Tête Opera Festival, Sonorities, Opera to Go, and the York Late Music Festival.

Touring across Scotland   from 16 to 27 May 2017, with opening performances in Perth.

 Join the conversation: #The306

 Full tour details and casting to be announced.

WORLD PREMIERE

A Stellar Quines production, commissioned and supported by the National Theatre of Scotland and Dundee Rep.

The Last Queen of Scotland

By Jaimini Jethwa, directed by Jemima Levick

Touring to Dundee Rep Theatre (preview) and Edinburgh Festival Fringe in summer 2017

‘My Mum and Dad had £7 when they got here. They got 90 days to leave and seven shitty pounds. 90 days, two pints, one pack of fags, gone.’

August 1972 – Idi Amin had a dream and ordered the expulsion of all Asians from Uganda under a 90-day deadline. From Uganda to Dundee, Jaimini Jethwa grew up in Scotland knowing nothing about her homeland until she found herself being haunted by Idi Amin. She started to run but he was everywhere.

Fae Uganda to Dundee and all the way back again – how do you confront Idi Amin when he still messes with your head?

The Last Queen of Scotland sheds light on a unique period in Scotland’s social history and the particular story of a community in exile that has rarely been told. Just as Idi Amin coined the phrase ‘The Last King of Scotland’ Jaimini Jethwa has decided to reclaim her heritage. Performed by one woman to a live urban soundtrack, through the street sounds of Dundonian dialect, The Last Queen of Scotland is Jaimini Jethwa’s homage to her city – her ‘love letter to the D”.

Jaimini is a playwright and independent film-maker. In March 2014 Jaimini travelled to Uganda to explore presenting The Last Queen of Scotland at National Theatre Kampala as part of ‘Banta in Uganda’ – in a research and development project supported through Creative Scotland’s International fund.

Leading Scottish director, and new Artistic Director of Stellar Quines, Jemima Levick directs. Jemima is also directing The 306: Day for the National Theatre of Scotland in 2017.

Touring to Dundee Rep and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Summer 2017

Join the conversation: #LastQueenOfScotland

Rosa Duncan – notes from the rehearsal room – a time to focus!

Week two is over and we are hurtling towards technical rehearsals. After a week of staggering through – stopping to work into scenes, adding detail and interrogating the intentions of the characters – we are now confident of an overarching narrative of the piece.

1st August almost 200 years ago, our characters were in sight of Quebec. Although they still had a long way to travel on both boat and foot, they could begin to imagine themselves arriving at their final destination. How apt that this should also be the last leg of our rehearsals.

Last week of full rehearsals: a week for focus. Focus on our journeys, focus on our clarity of intention, where our focus lies as storyteller. The elements on the piece begin to bleed together. Linda McLean works away developing the text and Pippa Murphy’s stunning sound instantly transports us back to the Scottish Borders of the 1800’s before pulling us into the new land of Canada. We fitted the costumes designed by the brilliant Claire Halleran, utilising the organic textures of 19th century Scotland. We think about how we might use these as an extension of the performers, as indicators of which character our storyteller is taking on.

Using the ingredients given to us by Movement Director Janice Parker, we played with developing images that heighten our storytelling. We split rehearsals in order to maximise time. We work each scene listening to the comments of each individual, every person’s voice equal to each other. In the same nature we share our story with the audience, we all work together as an ensemble.

This is an unusual rehearsal process for me to experience. As a festival production, although we do not open until the 13 August, we must also work to the same timeline as the other performers in our venue (artSpace @ St Mark’s Church). Therefore, we prepare for a slight cart-before-horse experience. We will finish our technical rehearsals then return to the rehearsal room for five days prior to dress rehearsals and previews. We spend time reminding ourselves to have confidence in our progress.

We had a lovely visit from the Edinburgh Book Festival Artistic Director, Nick Barley, who joined us and offered both encouraging and insightful feedback. 
He also delivered to us the special edition of the book – Alice Munro The View from Castle Rock the ‘Two stories that inspired the stage production’.

Then, when Friday fell, excitement took a hold of us as we realise that the tickets on the Book Festival website have virtually sold out!

At time of writing there are still a few tickets remaining for August 29th at www.edbookfest.co.uk

Don’t panic! 

There are still tickets available from the Edinburgh Fringe Box Office:

There is also opportunity to join us in the Borders, from where our story originates:

Eastgate Theatre, Peebles: 31 August

Heart of Hawick: 1 September

Kirkhope Parish Hall: 2 September – call 01750 52257 to book

MacArts: 3 September

Writer Linda Mclean will appear at MacArts on 24 August to talk about The View from Castle Rock as part of Booked!

Image: Lewis Howden, Sally Reid & Nicola Jo Cully in rehearsal

Rosa Duncan – notes from the rehearsal room – end of week one!

Our first week is over!

With the festival just days away, we are beginning to see the sight of technical rehearsals in the distance.

Our story begins in the Ettrick Valley in the lowlands of Scotland 200 years ago. Our characters then undertake an enormous journey, climbing aboard a large ship with many other travellers and then again travel on foot from Quebec to Toronto. Along the way, the qualities of environment change significantly – from the open lands of the farming valley, to the confinements of the busy ship. The upper deck may give you the open waters and, on a good day, endless skies but below deck people are living in shared open spaces, using only their clothing to create sleeping arrangements. People are hanging up a piece of “plaids or shawls to make a half-private space for their families’.

These families travelled aboard for eight weeks.

The sea could often be a hostile host – providing passengers with challenging days.

Week One: we experiment – which textures could we use in our performance to take the audience with us on this journey?

We began to play with the text, with sound and with movement.

On Tuesday evening, we recorded with the wonderful Castle Chorus choir who prepared psalms and worked with Pippa Murphy’s arrangements to provide us with the materials to create the world of our story.

Using a blend of their voices, sound and live music, Pippa Murphy are to create the world for which the story will float on top of.

With the help of Janice Parker, we played with the objects that passengers would have with them. Families at that time would have had to carry with them the entirety of their homes. These items were essential for the family to begin their new lives in a foreign land. In the same way, our items now become the essentials for our storytellers to tell their tale. Our joy was to find the wonderful ways in which these can be used to create the rich qualities of the writing.

A fantastic range of options available to us, we take a day off – the calm before the storm.

Rosa Duncan is Assistant Director on The View from Castle Rock 

Image: Simon Donaldson & Brian James O’Sullivan in rehearsal

Rosa Duncan – notes from the rehearsal room

DAY ONE:

Our cast have arrived. We are ready to set sail.

Today we began our voyage into the text of The View From Castle Rock.

My name is Rosa Duncan. I am the assistant director joining the team on this special production. I am a Glasgow-based director. As an artist, joining this production is a really exciting opportunity for me. For years, the new work that Stellar Quines have produced has inspired me to create and create daringly.

Whilst studying theatre at the Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Arts, I fell in love with a collaborative style of working. No matter what we were creating, as in much theatre, we worked with designers, with filmmakers, sound designers and each element of the production was just as important and would influence each other.

This production celebrates the work of three fantastic women; Alice Munro, Marilyn Imrie and Linda McLean. Day one: A total collaboration.

Linda has created a word-for-word adaptation of the two first short stories from Alice Munro’s collection entitled The View From Castle Rock. Through clever and subtle choice of narrative designation, Linda allows the audience a greater insight into the mind of each character whilst still condensing the stories into one hour of action.

We figure out rules of the text: what does it mean to be both the character and to narrate in third person your own story? How might our story change depending on who we are telling it to?

Marilyn, as a director, is generous and encouraging. With only a short period before the festival begins, we have a big task ahead of us. Although we move at a fast pace through the text, we sail through guided by exciting conversations led by Marilyn.

From 1818 until 2016. The journey that began 200 years ago is now being mapped out across pews, up ladders and on balconies. As a director, I thoroughly enjoying working with movement and so being able to utilise the entire church space presents exciting opportunities for storytelling.

We play with ideas of what we might visualise and what we may choose not to. The power of imagination is a brilliant thing. We believe as we want to believe. We know ourselves better than anyone could; we know what terrifies us and what excites us. Our skill is to encourage the imagination of the audience, to keep them travelling with us through this story.

200 years ago – what was important to our voyagers? Opportunity, hope for the future. Something many of us may have lost recently. The family as a unit, enduring hardship in search for a greater goal, to aid the generation after them. As we begin this process, I look forward to facing the storms ahead and the arrival at a destination we may only imagine now.

 

Jemima Levick – Artistic Director & CEO

Meet Stellar Quines Artistic Director & Chief Executive – Jemima Levick

Jemima was appointed Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Stellar Quines in May 2016. Prior to that, she served as Artistic Director and as Associate Director at Dundee Rep Theatre for seven years. She trained at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh and also on a Scottish Arts Council Director Traineeship.

She has won and been nominated for a number of awards and directed more than 18 productions at the Rep, including Great Expectations, The Glass Menagerie, Time and the Conways, The Tempest, The Elephant Man and Beauty and the Beast. 

As a freelance as a director and producer she has worked with a number of companies, including the Royal Lyceum Theatre, The National Theatre of Scotland, Perissology Theatre Productions, Borderline, Grid Iron Theatre Company, Traverse Theatre and Paines Plough.

Most recently she directed the critically acclaimed The 306: Day and this summer will direct her first Fringe show for the company The Last Queen of Scotland.