Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Years and years ago, when I was living in England with my family, I discovered the first century warrior queen Boudicca, and I've been interested in her ever since. Several years ago my mom reminded me of the time we spent traveling around the countryside looking for the towns she destroyed and the battlefield where her story ended, when she sent me a copy of Manda Scott's Dreaming the Bull, which features Boudicca, and said it reminded her of the times we spent "chasing Boudicca."
That became the title of a poem, which then became more poems, which were then encouraged and nudged and massaged by my friend Sean Zio until there was a collection of about a dozen of them. I read the cycle for the first time as a unit at the Voices of Venus series last February - where better to inaugurate a series of poems about a warrior queen than a women's open mike? - where Caitlyn Paxson, the artistic director of the Ottawa Storytellers, heard them, and thought they'd make an interesting storytelling show... if I could only recite them rather than read them. Not long after that I was invited, along with fellow Kymeras Ruthanne and Marie, to put together a full-length show for the 4th Stage series.
... And that show is happening tomorrow!
It's been a long and interesting project, the last few months: I've been memorizing my work, which has been a massively educational experience for me, and Ruthanne and Marie and I have taken whole weekends to get together and dig into the history and archaeology to create the stories that they will be telling, into which I drop my odd little poems about being thirteen, about discovering the story, about not knowing what is and is not true, about making up your own stories around the bare bones of history and archaeology, and about what your version of Boudicca's story says about you.
I've been watching the storytellers work and learning about creating oral stories, I've been rehearsing with them and dissolving into giggles and videotaping bloopers and being moved even in the middle of the rough drafts. I've discovered that certain parts of the story still make my heart race as they tell it, even though I know what's going to happen and I've heard it many times before.
Tonight we're going on Click Here on CHUO (89.1 fm) to talk with Mitchell Caplan about the show, and tomorrow morning Marie and I will be on CBC Ottawa Morning around 8... and then we're meeting up with our musician, Nathan Bishop, an absolutely fantastic bodhran player, to run through the drum cues. Then it's mike check, butterfly taming, and we're off to the first century!
I can't wait.