Thursday, 22 September 2016

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Gilda Monreal

Gilda Monreal
Photo by Jeremie Triplet
Our Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP) offers financial support for unique and flexible training with a chosen mentor in any theatrical discipline (except performance.)

Gilda Monreal is training in playwriting with Rosa Laborde at Criminal Theatre in Toronto.

(August 19, 2016) Over the past six weeks, my mentorship with Rosa Laborde at Criminal Theatre has been absolutely informative and inspiring. In this first phase of a playwriting mentorship I have been guided through script analysis of Greek Classics, as well as of some contemporary plays. The readings, analysis and discussions that ensued have all contributed to a heightened awareness and self-reflection of my own script writing. Rosa is extremely perceptive and in her unique approach to mentoring she has highlighted my voice and vision. I am profoundly grateful for this process of growth as an artist and storyteller.

We began my mentorship by reviewing the current draft of my play Ayelen, which has been described by critics and colleagues as “operatic”, “magical”, “likes of greek tragedy”, and “poetic”. This was then followed by readings of the following Greek Classics: Medea, Iphigenia, Electra. A focus was placed on ‘structure’, ‘action in poetry’ and ‘argument’. These focuses were also analyzed in the contemporary plays Oleanna (Mamet), Mrs Warren’s Profession (Shaw), and Medea (Diane Rayor; as well as the novel by Christa Wolf). The analysis of action driven dialogue, of its efficiency and how it can be poetically communicated, has been a fundamental building block in understanding how a story can move forward. It has also opened my eyes to my own writing and how efficient/inefficient it can be.

The focus on ‘argument’ has also been a great tool to analyze. Not only because both sides of an argument can be justified, but also in how it contributes to character development. The layers, contradictions, and beauty of a character can be revealed in their argument. The complexity and depth which this can contribute to, in character and storyline, is exciting and I look forward to further developing this tool in my own writing in the coming weeks of my mentorship.

Some things seem so obvious now, but until this mentorship, I had not taken the time to truly understand the “efficiency” of language and how it can drive action forward. The discussions I have had with Rosa throughout my mentorship have already opened my perspective on story structure, as well as storytelling in poetic form. I am so excited about applying the concept of action driven dialogue in poetic form, as opposed to poetic form just for the sake of abstract expression or beauty.

We then reviewed Ayelen once again, this time with a focus on ‘structure’, ‘action in poetry’ and ‘argument’. I saw my own writing in a new light. I was able to see its structure, its fluidity as well as its holes. I was able to see the efficiency of the language I chose and how it either drove the story forward or not. I was able to see my own use of poetry and prose, and how some of it was simply aesthetic and how some of it actually gave life and movement to a scene.

And most recently, I begun the development of a new structure for Ayelen. I have begun to analyze what specific story it is I want to express in my script, and how select action will help to support this story and move it forward. I am now beginning the middle phase of my mentorship, where I get to apply, in practical terms, the teachings and guidance that Rosa has gifted me. In this phase I am strictly focusing on structure, so that the action can then support the writing which will come in the next phase. We have already met to discuss the concept of this ‘structure’ phase, and once I conclude my select choices in structure we will meet once again in the coming days to analyze these choices. Only half way through my mentorship and I am already so grateful for the new tools I have acquired!

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The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 3, 2016.

Learn more about Theatre Ontario's Professional Theatre Training Program

Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program is funded by the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

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