Supporting creative work by women
Muriel Louveau, born in Brittany, is a French composer, performance-maker, and singer. After various experiences in the literary world, she focused on song and music producing what she calls contemporary medieval music–contemporary melodies inspired by ancient music as well as extra European sound.
She has performed at festivals and international events including Next Wave Festival at BAM, Le Poisson Rouge, Conservatory of Peabody (Baltimore), SKIFF 2002 (St. Petersburg), French Spring Festival (Latvia), Beaubourg Center (Paris), Europe XXL Lille 3000 (France).
Louveau returns to Theaterlab in New York City with Journey, comprised of two pieces, Skana and Mary Shelley Project. She spoke to Works by Women about Mary Shelley, Virginia Woolf and why she’s happy to be back at Theaterlab.
WORKS BY WOMEN: You return to Theaterlab with Journey. Tell me about performing at Theaterlab.
MURIEL LOUVEAU: Last year I performed in the Gallery space at Theaterlab, and the atmosphere was magical. I am excited to do an event in the Theater space. The shining white box is really special and inspiring. I sense we can really experience in a space which is Orietta’s signature and makes you feel at “home”, free to experiment.
WBW: You are presenting a new version of Skana. How has it developed since it was last presented at Theaterlab?
ML: Skana started as a concert. Last year’s version was a multimedia performance with projections. The music is the same, but the staging is each time different like when a hidden layer becomes visible. This is a music that would fit just as well in a modern concert hall as in an ancient Roman amphitheater. In this new variation, the scenography will enhance the relationship between singing, the language of vocals and movement with enough room for improvisation. Emily and I have a psychic connection, and she always surprises me. We don’t need to speak to understand each other.
WBW: You have a new piece inspired by Mary Shelley. How was this created? What was your process?
ML: I started some research on Shelley’s life and writings, and I was fascinated to find out that at the time she wrote Frankenstein in 1816, the world had been plunged into semi-darkness, crop failure, famine, and a significant increase in riots, murders, and fatal illnesses by the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia. As a composer/musician, I was inspired by Shelley’s character and by the apocalyptic environment of the novel that shapes the dramatic background, echoing simultaneously to Shelley’s inner drama. The Creature performed by Autumn Kioti is a projection of Shelley herself. Also, the issue of the impact of ecological disaster is very contemporary, and I sense Mary belongs to our world today.
WBW: How do Skana and Mary Shelley play off of each other?
ML: For both pieces I could say “past is a prologue”. Despite the music having groundings in the past, the concept–a very 21st century endeavor–both contemporary and classical. I see Mary Shelley as the first chapter of the Journey of a Soul, exploring the deep underworld. It’s at the same time a reflection of an internal and external transformation seeking to explore the boundaries between light and dark, life and death, wakefulness and sleep. Skana is the next step. We are tracing a path from the tragic and supernatural experience of Mary Shelley’s piece to the exploration of foreign landscapes of Skana, beyond time and space, surreal dimensions toward the light.
WBW: What’s next for you?
ML: Hopefully a retreat far form the city. I’d like to do music and vocals for films.
WBW: What are the challenges facing women artists?
ML: Women’s works and their credits tend to be undervalued. You need to struggle to prove you can be the author of an original piece. There is also the risk of giving into mainstream which used to be subculture and which is now trendy and often “conventional”; I sometimes think that if there was nudity or “sexual” explicit content in my work, it may be easier for me to sell and target an audience. It’s difficult when you don’t want to compromise and when you don’t consider viewers as consumers.
WBW: What gives you hope for women artists?
ML: I cannot generalize but personally, as a female artist at the core of my creative process U can capture intuitively the androgynous mind that helps me to blur the lines in my work. If you surrender, this can free yourself, lead you to unknown places beyond genders, trends and cultural boundaries.
I think a woman can be more receptive to that. Virginia Woolf said “In each of us two powers preside, one male, one female… The androgynous mind is resonant and porous… naturally creative, incandescent and undivided.”
This vision gives me hope.
For information and tickets for Journey, please visit Theaterlab’s web site.