Thursday, 20 October 2016

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Gilda Monreal

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 trained in playwriting with Rosa Laborde at Criminal Theatre in Toronto.

Gilda Monreal
Photo by Jeremie Triplet
(September 30, 2016) My mentorship with Rosa Laborde at Criminal Theatre has been a wonderful experience with a profound learning curve. An experience which I will process and refer to throughout my journey as a writer and storyteller, I am sure. It was truly a powerful mentorship that I am profoundly greatly for. This final segment of my mentorship involved creating structure, developing action around this structure, and followed by the writing of dialogue. This experience was also accompanied by the analysis of the readings done in the earlier phase of my training with Rosa. Everything we had discussed since the beginning of my mentorship came into play in these last weeks, and I was able to apply these theories, readings and discussions in practical terms. Rosa’s guidance allowed me to analyze my own process of storytelling and challenged me to learn more about the art of action driven poetry.

In this final phase of my playwriting mentorship I was given the challenge to review the storyline structure I had originally created for my script Ayelen and to further develop this structure by applying what I had learned up to date. We then exercised a series of sessions where my new structure was analyzed and re-worked by keeping in mind what had been discussed. This exercise helped me to understand the balance between action, exposition, and magical realism. Because my work quite often uses magical realism, this was an important part of my mentorship as it challenged me to understand how to ground “facts and information” within a surreal context. This structure exercise also allowed me to explore the essence of the story I am wanting to tell, and which choices were better to make in achieving the telling of this story. 

Once I arrived at a structure I was content with, we began the process of actioning. This actioning was broken down into sections, and filled the script with interactions between characters. Again, this process was done on my own and then analyzed with Rosa, where I was able to review the choices I had made. Were these choices justified, efficient, clear, and contributing to the essence of my story? Here we also analyzed the readings I had done in the beginning of my mentorship, and reviewed the complexity and/or simplicity of choices other writers had made. The layering of multiple storylines and their actions, within the overall story, was also analyzed and re-worked. 

And lastly, I got to explore dialogue. With the work done up to this point, the parameters of dialogue became very clear. The structure and actioning allowed me to make dialogue choices that were concise and action driven. This allowed me to play with poetic expression as well as magical realism in a way I had not experienced in my prior work. It was a structured and liberating experience all at once. Rosa was extremely supportive in my individual creative process, and was also informative in giving me tools that would help me develop my skills as a storyteller. 

In the follow up to this mentorship experience I plan to have a public reading of my script Ayelen. I had originally planned to do this independent follow up to my mentorship a week or two after concluding the training, but because I have learned so much, I feel it is important not to rush into this next phase. I have decided to sit with these new teachings for a little while longer, as I loved this experience and will now take the time to process for myself everything I have learned. Along with Rosa Laborde’s Criminal Theatre company, my script Ayelen will have a public reading in the weeks to come, which I will proudly invite Theatre Ontario and the general public to come to. I am so grateful for this mentorship, it has been a turning point for me as a writer. Thank you!

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The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is March 1, 2017.

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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