The Great Harvest of Words
A theatrical production
Guided by hundreds of voices
The GHW is a creative process that seeks to initiate a dialogue, to offer a creative strategy of open conversation to members of a community.
The Great Harvest of Words (GHW) was created by Angèle Séguin, playwright, director and artistic director of the Théâtre des Petites Lanternes, based on the idea that a dramatic work could take shape guided by the written words of hundreds of voices.
Each GHW is based on a structure that is both solid and flexible due to a series of carefully and artistically sequences stages. The formation of a steering committee, the creation of the notebook, the networking for writing workshops with writers, the workshops themselves, the harvest and synthesis of the notebooks, writing of the dramatic text, research, creation and production, dissemination and sustainability of the work all make up parts of the creative process.
1- the Citizen Notebook
For each new creation, a new notebook is created. Each page has a prompt and tips to help guide writing. This is not a survey or a consultation, but an invitation to an anonymous act of writing, both on the individual and collective level. It is thanks to the writings delivered in these Citizen Notebooks that the unrestrained and evocative words of the participants, who are referred to as writers in the project, are collected. The experience is meant to be neither formal nor intimidating.
The Monarques Project, following the stages of GHW, will invite 800 people to write during workshops where facilitators will accompany them in their process.
2- the Condensation
After the writing workshops comes a process of synthesis. Referred to in French as “la condensation,” this step sees the artistic team and the members of the steering committee come together to review and refine the words that have been harvested from the workshops into source material for the text to come. The process follows very precise rules and takes place under the oversight of the artistic director. 5,000 pages of raw words, filled with stories and unspoken words, are collected and carefully read to extract evocative and meaningful extracts. We make sure to preserve the essence of each selection, not altering what is said. In the case of bilingual or multilingual projects, a team of translators will have translated the notebooks in advance.
And what of the Monarques Project in all of this?
“ Now, more than ever, we are reminded that we must be aware of the realities of post-traumatic stress or post-operational stress experienced by veterans and military families. "»
— Angèle Séguin, artistic director and co-author
This is why the Théâtre des Petites Lanternes has chosen the Great Harvest of Words approach as the best vehicle to create a theatrical work about such a sensitive and complex subject.
The Monarques Project, the given name of this Great Harvest of Words, will invite 800 people, veterans or members of military families, to write freely, voluntarily, and completely anonymously during various writing workshops.
Workshops will be organized in environments that veterans and military families frequent both in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada, with the collaboration of various members of the steering committee.
3- the Writing
Next comes the writing of the work itself, inspired by all the words that have been shared and composed based on the synthesis of selected passages. The author organizes the extracts and groups them together, on the lookout for the multiple meanings they may carry. Little by little, a common thread is established from which a structure emerges. Characters emerge around the singular goal of remaining faithful to the commonalities and the great differences that emerge from the voices of hundreds of participants.
A methodology that has proven its worth around the world
Since 2007, the Great Harvest of Words has travelled to four different continents
with several different performances:
From Sherbrooke to Hong Kong in 2007;
From England to Brazil in 2010;
Before returning to Québec following the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster in 2013;
Finally ending up in Kinshasa, en République Démocratique du Congo on the African continent from 2016 to 2018, in order to carry out a Great Harvest of Words attended by over 34,000 people at 74 performances focused on the issue of violence against women.
Over the course of these various creations, the Théâtre des Petites Lanternes has been awarded several prizes and recognitions for these daring, unifying and representational works that has as much meaning in Quebec as elsewhere in the world.
What they’re saying about the Great Harvest of Words
See what the media have said about the Théâtre des Petites Lanternes Great Harvest of Words projects:
Watch the meeting between the artists of Bongo Té, Tika! and Télé-Québec’s Fabrique Culturelle (In French);
Read the article Le Théâtre social comme exutoire (Social Theater as an Outlet) in the Magazine Sans Frontière about Bongo Té, Tika ! (In French);
Get an overview of the Great Harvest of Words experience in Brazil in the Canadian Theater Review!
And many more!