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The Hero's Journey Project (2020-21)

THE HERO'S JOURNEY PROJECT is the latest performance program - and the first devised work - from Scintilla Performance. Working with a group of young performers, we wanted to explore the relevance of classic children’s literary heroes on contemporary young people. What do these characters have to say to young people today? What would happen if you give a voice to a character that is a footnote in someone else’s story? 

 

From the initial character concepts, through to research, script drafting, and direction masterclasses, we worked with our participants to create a live performance of theatrical monologues. 

 

15 months since the project began (April 2020 - July 2021), we are so proud to share the results of their work. Over this time, the delivery of this program (and it’s final form) evolved and changed with every outbreak, lockdown and CovidSAFE plan. Pivoting from live performance to short films, these four monologues explore the ideas of agency, empowerment, entrapment, and freedom through the eyes of four female characters from literary history: Ophelia, from Shakespeare’s Hamlet; Mrs Lovett, from the Penny Dreadful The String of Pearls; Eponine, from Les Miserable; and Freya, from Norse mythology. 

 

Each performer has written a rationale outlining the intentions of their work, which you can read on this page.

 

We hope you enjoy their final project outcomes as much as we enjoyed working with these fabulous performers. Please come with us now on their hero’s journey…

OPHELIA (Hamlet) by Sam Kelly

What character did you choose, and why did you choose them?

I chose Ophelia because I have read Hamlet a dozen times and I am always left astounded by the unjust treatment of Ophelia. After everything that she endures, she is given the subpar exit of someone else announcing she has drowned. I wanted to give her a voice and show that there is more to her character than what is seen in Hamlet.

 

What ideas, themes, or feelings did you want to explore in your monologue?

Throughout my monologue, I wanted to explore the idea that not everything is as it seems. The idea that Ophelia was more than just an unfortunate piece of collateral damage, she recognised that she deserved better, and took control of her own fate - to live a happier one. I also explored the theme of toxic relationships. The reflection of Gertrude experiencing a similar cycle in her youth and then deciding to help Ophelia to escape so she is not fated with the same burden. However, the biggest overarching idea for this monologue is the strength of a woman who can take control of her own future.

 

What did you learn about your creative process while working on this project?

One of the hardest lessons I learnt throughout this process, was that to create the best version of your work, you must tear apart each draft. It broke my heart having to cut out sections of my work that I had become so fond of, but once I did, it improved my monologue tremendously. I also generally lean towards comedy, so as my work developed through the creative process, I realised that not all monologues benefit from comedy. I had to learn to step outside of my comfort zone and steer away from adding cheap gags as it only weakened the message and the effectiveness of my monologue.

 

What do you think this character has to say to young people of today?

You have the strength to take control of your own life. Recognise the toxic people in your life and don’t be afraid to let them go. You deserve to be surrounded by people that return your love and appreciation.

 

Why do you think your chosen character deserves to be the hero of their story?

I believe Ophelia has a pure heart filled with love, and she is treated so poorly in Hamlet’s story. She deserves to be the hero of her own story, because she is a strong and capable young woman, and the world deserves to see that side of her character. #JusticeforOphelia!

LOVETT (The String of Pearls) by Natasha Buckley

What character did you choose, and why did you choose them?

The task was to choose a female heroine and tell their story. I chose Mrs. Lovett from The String of Pearls (the penny-dreadful inspiration for "Sweeney Todd"). We were given a list of suggestions and when I saw the name “Lovett” I was immediately surprised that a woman who assisted in numerous murders would have made the list of female heroines. I was originally going to write about Wendy Darling from Peter Pan, but I could not stop thinking about how many different angles I could explore with Lovett and eventually decided to switch. 

 

What ideas, themes, or feelings did you want to explore in your monologue?

I wanted to show Lovett’s vulnerable side without actually allowing her to be raw and emotional. I wanted to create a story that shows how one comes to the decisions that she did. Lovett is a very troubled woman who refuses to accept that her behaviour does not conform with societal standards and she covers that up with deflection and humour.

What did you learn about your creative process while working on this project?

Like most people, I have always been my own biggest critic and writing has never been a strong point of mine in general, let alone writing a script/monologue. 

I am a procrastinator and I overwhelm myself as I overthink everything instead of breaking it into parts, I am always thinking of the bigger picture. Throughout the Hero’s Journey Project, we had to write everything in sections, which allowed me to really focus on one topic at a time and watch it all slowly come together. I found that I was not overwhelming myself with all these different ideas because I had to complete a small task by a deadline and if I wanted to edit or change something I was on a schedule.

What do you think this character has to say to young people of today?

I think that Lovett can definitely make us appreciate that we have the ability to live in a society where we don’t have to work so hard to feel heard and valued. We have the ability to express ourselves freely and have the strength and resources to speak up. Lovett also shows us that everyone has a story that should be heard, prior to making a decision of opinion on someone.

Why do you think your chosen character deserves to be the hero of their story?

Lovett is not someone you should aspire to be but we can definitely appreciate her dedication to survive and the love she has for her family. She loves those closest to her with her entire existence, and although she has very twisted morals, she would die for those she deems worthy of that love. Lovett is a woman who would do anything to protect her family, which makes her a hero to the ones she loves.

EPONINE (Les Miserables) by Isabelle Jones

What character did you choose, and why did you choose them?

I chose Eponine from Les Miserables. She is a strong female heroine that was rebellious against her family's political ideals. I decided to focus on her story, as her character's strong viewpoints and determination really resonated with me.

What ideas, themes, or feelings did you want to explore in your monologue?

I wanted to show a different side to Eponine other than how she was portrayed in the novel. The idea that she went through all the different stages of life, including wealth, homelessness, poverty, the working class, and war, and how despite this she was content in the way her life ended. I thought this was important to highlight throughout the monologue, not only to the audience but to herself.

 

What did you learn about your creative process while working on this project?

Initially I was excited but extremely nervous to start this process, as scriptwriting was never something I considered to be a strength of mine; however, the [Scintilla] team made it so easy as all the steps were broken down for me into achievable sections. Upon reflection for me, working through a monologue in sections as well as getting up and actually performing those sections before attempting the entirety of the monologue helps me to create my best work.

 

What do you think this character has to say to young people of today?

Eponine would say to young people of today to be resilient. Life throws curve balls and crossroads as every decision made leaves behind the 'what if' door, but it is important to stay happy with your choices. Her voice also gives rise to the empowerment that not only women but young people harness when they truly believe in a cause.

 

Why do you think your chosen character deserves to be the hero of their story?

She goes through many different journeys to find where she belongs in the world and didn't rely on others to see her into the next day. She isn't your typical hero but one that I believe young people can admire and strive to be like, in the sense of taking control of your life and voicing your concerns before taking any reasonable action - nothing can ever change if everyone stays silent.

FREYA (Norse Mythology) by Sara Hamilton

What character did you choose, and why did you choose them?
I chose Freya, the norse Goddess of fertility and love. The stories and depictions of Freya usually involve her serving a purpose for other Gods. I thought it would be interesting to explore what that would mean for Freya as a woman. 


What ideas, themes, or feelings did you want to explore in your monologue?

The main themes focused on the expectations and standards women are being held at today. Media perpetuates the "right way" a woman should look and act. A woman with self assurance and independence is considered a "problem" in our society. The root of these themes stems from a lack of action, understanding and self reflection and I wanted to explore that. 


What did you learn about your creative process while working on this project?

I learned how difficult it was to be able to step back as an actor and learn to see through the lens of a writer. I found writing to be the most difficult aspect of the process as I would be unsure of my decisions and applied techniques. It has taught me a lot about how story structure and beats change monologues drastically. 


What do you think this character has to say to young people of today?

To not be afraid to stand up and speak about how you feel. To challenge the standards and internalised misogyny society puts on women. To find your authentic self and know that you deserve respect no matter what you look like or how you choose to live your life.  


Why do you think your chosen character deserves to be the hero of their story?

Freya is a strong woman, a leader, a warrior and a gentle, sexual and empathic Goddess. She represents the strengths and duality of women. She is a hero for herself.