Sleeping Beauty, Penelope, Ariadne, Calypso, Arachne, the Lady of Shalott and Philomela – what do all these figures from myth and literature have in common? All of them are spinners or weavers or in some way connected to threads and fabrics. Now all of them have been united in a big tapestry that is at the centre of this play.
Frustration and suffering have been common factors of their existence – but should they not be at peace now, quietly gazing out of the tapestry at the visitors of the art gallery who come to see them? But the women have a problem – the guides who are supposed to inform the visitors about them do not tell their stories “properly”, not in the way the women would like them to be told. And on the closing night of the exhibition, something starts to unravel…
About 90% of this play were written after we had started rehearsals at the beginning of June 2009. We made a lot of changes throughout the rehearsal process and decided on the end-scene about a week ago. If this play has a kind of patchwork-quality – the production process surely contributed to that.
Moreover it is a play about “loose ends”: unfinished plotlines, gaps in stories, untold alternatives, hidden narrative possibilities. Some of the stories we did not change at all. In others we filled up some holes. Did the Lady of Shalott’s mirror really break because of a curse? Did Penelope really spend each night alone, faithful to her husband? Some of the stories are comic, some are sad, some are very bloody. But imagine them as different pieces of a big patchwork, one that shades from lighter hues into darker ones.
The seven women are united by the fact that they are all spinners or weavers but apart from that they are widely different. All characters experienced suffering in one way or the other – abandoned (Ariadne, Penelope, Calypso), cursed (Sleeping Beauty, the Lady of Shalott, Arachne) or mutilated (Philomela) – but still their stories and temperaments are sometimes worlds apart. Which is natural, given the fact that their stories originate in different times. Trying to make these women act as a unified group was hard – we gave them a common target, i.e., taking revenge and making the two tourist guides suffer as representatives for all the men (and gods) who mistreated them. Still, they are often on the verge of going mad, breaking apart and attacking each other instead. But maybe that is what being shut up in a tapestry for decades does to you?