From cocoon to flight
For long journeys, for the ones who return,
for the others left behind.
MONARQUES is the story of those who return from afar. From war and from the unspeakable, from a world where notions of humanity are called into question. Condemned to relive these stories or to try and protect themselves, many struggle with post-traumatic stress, finding themselves isolated, barricaded into silence.
MONARQUES was put in place by the Eastern Townships Veterans' Committee; faced with the suffering of their friends, parents or colleagues, they have chosen theatre as a way to give a voice.
In response to this request, I found myself face to face with my prejudices and a clash of values between caring for those who suffer and my personal rejection of war, and even of soldiers.
I found this dissonance discomfiting and realized that I was probably not the only one. What could we do as a theatre company but try and bring out this dichotomy into the open and start a dialogue about it? Using words as a starting point to create work on what binds us together as human beings.
Angèle Séguin, Artistic Director
To turn this sensitive topic into a theatre piece, the Great Harvest of Words (GHW) process seemed to be the best-suited to the task. With the GHW, the process is itself a part of the final product and authorship is shared through an open dialogue.
Every play invites us into worlds that are unknown, or at least little-known, to us. When we enter them we accept that we will get confronted and challenged our own vulnerability as well as that of others. It is an encounter with the unknown and the most intimate parts of ourselves.
On a more concrete level, the participants, we call them the writers – enter their contributions freely, voluntarily, and entirely anonymously into the Citizen Notebooks, a part of the Great Harvest of Words methodology.
These notebooks are specially curated with themes and guidelines. In the workshops, the writers are joined by artists and facilitators who help them through the process. They end up embarking in a journey filled with secrets and silences. The Citizen Notebooks are revealers of stories, of the unsaid and the unexpressed. They express heartfelt needs, and are the primary material for the piece, directly inspiring the lines, the characters and the ideas.
This is not a survey or a consultation; nor is it a documentary. It is a way to hear both individual and collective voices that allows us to bear witness to the human condition. These 4000-odd anonymous pages will inspire a theatre piece that gives voice to all these utterances.
MONARQUES is a creation of artists and citizens, francophones and anglophones, from the east to the west of the country.
The Great Harvest of Words has already been to four continents: from Sherbrooke to Hong Kong, from England to Brazil, passing through Haiti before returning to Québec following the tragedy in Lac-Mégantic in 2013. Finally, in 2018, we finished a Great Harvest of Words in Kinshasa where more than 34,000 people attended the 74 performances offered.
Some of our creations based on the Great Harvest of Words process: