Louise Moyes brings the work of writers Lisa Moore and Mavis Gallant to the stage
Louise Moyes performs on stage as Lisa Porter is shown on film as part of Moyes’ newest production, “Moore-Gallant: A Docudance.”— Submitted photo by Jared Reid
It was partly fate that led performer Louise Moyes to consider Lisa Moore’s work for her most recent production, manifested in the form of a visit to the hair salon.
Moyes was in the midst of a haircut when she picked up a magazine and read a short story by Moore, and it struck her how the work reminded her of Montreal-born, Paris-based writer Mavis Gallant.
Moyes had been reading Gallant’s work for more than 20 years — having picked up a second-hand copy of one of her books — and had always been drawn to her way of storytelling.
“Her short stories are so dense, so interesting, they have the impact of a whole novel,” Moyes said, describing Gallant and her work as multi-layered. “I knew I wanted to work with one of her stories, but I wanted something to balance that out.”
That’s where Moore’s writing came in. Moyes, a dancer and documentarian, was developing a “docudance” piece inspired by Gallant, shaped by the writer’s life and work. The piece, based on Gallant’s “Rue de Lille,” tells a series of four connected stories surrounding a love triangle, with Moyes, on stage, playing the man and his prim wife. Lisa Porter portrays the other woman via short films, which were directed by Moyes and shot by Paul Pope. Music for the piece is by local guitarist Duane Andrews.
“I had been writing a Canada Council grant application, and put Duane’s music on in the background to relax,” Moyes said, laughing. “I thought he would be a fantastic fit as a composer, because his music is part Parisian, and he said ‘yes’ right away.”
So did Moore — after reading the magazine story in the hair salon, Moyes called the author and left her a message. Moore called her back, laughing and explaining Walrus magazine had also just phoned her, letting her know they were planning to reprint a conversation Moore was involved in on CBC’s “Canada Reads,” in which she defended Gallant’s writing.
“I didn’t realize that Mavis Gallant was Lisa’s absolute hero,” Moyes said. “It was just a really great coincidence.”
Moore gave Moyes a new short story to work with, called “All Zoos Everywhere,” about a gorilla escaping from a zoo, and the line between human and animal.
Both Moore’s and Gallant’s pieces speak of complex triangles and self-deception, but Moyes chooses to interpret them differently on stage: “All Zoos Everywhere” is a very pared-down, minimal performance, with very little music, no film, and a fake fur coat.
“It’s very sculptural,” Moyes explains. “It’s just me and a pool of light.”
For the Moore piece, Moyes worked with choreographer/filmmaker Anne Troake as a director. Moyes’ dad, John Moyes, a longtime theatre director, directs the “Rue de Lille” portion.
The process involved in creating “Moore-Gallant: A Docudance” was much different than anything Moyes has ever done, she explained, since her previous work has included her own research, interview and writing. The process of forming the production, deciding which elements were best suited to be told in film, dance or theatre, was one that was more familiar to her.
“Moore-Gallant: A Docudance” is running at the LSPU Hall from tonight until Saturday, and Moyes has decided to make the run a veritable celebration of the arts community.
Support for filmmakers
She plans to donate the proceeds from tonight’s show to the RBC Michelle Jackson Emerging
Filmmaker Award, administered by the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival and given each year to an up-and-coming local female filmmaker. The award was named for local filmmaker Michelle Jackson, who died suddenly five years
“Michelle made a short film for a show I do called ‘Florence,’”
Moyes said of her connection to Jackson. “I realized that even though I’m a solo performer, I’m really a very social person, and I wanted to reach out to the film community.”
“We’re thrilled to partner with Louise Moyes for this fundraising initiative,” said St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival interim executive director Maggie Keiley in a written statement. “The (award) is something we are really proud of and we’re so excited to have a respected, celebrated and talented artist like Moyes helping us honour Michelle and support emerging filmmakers in the province.”
Moyes has also decided to include other writers, and each performance will begin with a reading by a St. John’s woman writer. Tonight, 2012 Michelle Jackson award winner Jackie Hynes will read from her screenplay, while Elisabeth De Mariaffi, Sara Tilley and Wanda Nolan will read on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, respectively. Literary journal Riddle Fence, Running the Goat Books and Broadsides and Rattling Books will also have a presence in the Hall’s gallery space each night.
“I see it as a community celebration of words and image,” Moyes said of the show’s run.
Tickets for “Moore-Gallant: A Docudance” are $25 regular admission, and $20 for seniors, students, artists and groups of more than five people. Through a program called EYEGO to the Arts, there are 10 tickets per night available for high school students at a rate of $5 each. Tickets can be purchased at the LSPU Hall box office, by calling 753-4531, and online at www.rca.nf.ca. Showtime is 8 p.m.