’The Regina Monologues' is a series of solo performances based on royal women throughout history.
The interactive theatrescape, taking place in North Melbourne and presented by 24 Carrot Productions, is performed by a cast of 13 fresh, diverse actors from the local arts community. It's a celebration of strong, powerful women.
'The Regina Monologues' is written and directed by 24 Carrot Productions Founder Sharmini Kumar. Thirteen queens will delve into conversations about gender and power, feminism and privilege, colonialism and race, and more.
Alongside the show, audiences can attend a small exhibition – a group of artists have been given plywood in the shape of a crown and invited to create in response to the theme of 'Women And Power'.
Without further ado, we have a chat with Sharmini about 'The Regina Monologues' to find out more. Summarise 'The Regina Monologues' in a few sentences.
It’s a series of solo performances about royal women across the world and through time, exploring issues around gender, power, privilege, colonialism, race, and mental health. This show has been quite the undertaking! You’ve written all 13 monologues in the show – how was that creation process for you?
I enjoy the writing process, so it was a lot of fun. Coming up with a different focus and style for each monologue was a challenge as well. . . But it was great to look at these stories from a lot of different angles to work out which parts of their lives I wanted to focus on, and how to tell that story. Finding out about some of these women was also a great journey. . . So many people did so many interesting things that we just don’t know about. The entirety of the cast in this show is women. Who are they, and collectively, as a cast, what would you say is their main strength?
They’re a diverse group of women and non-binary actors. Different ages, backgrounds (as is appropriate for the diverse range of characters they’re portraying), even types of acting experience. In 'The Regina Monologues' there’s a strong theme in some of the monologues addressing the history of colonialism. Can you talk a bit about that?
I can talk a lot about it. . . But I’ll talk just a bit instead. Colonialism pretty much inevitably enters into the discussion about monarchy; either from the point of view of someone like Isabella of Spain who was responsible for colonising the Americas, or from the point of view of, say Nzinga of Ndongo who spent her entire rule (her entire life, really) battling colonialism, or even Himiko of Japan, whose story, millennia after her death, has been co-opted by colonialist impulses in entertainment media. It’s so much a part of world history that we can’t really ignore it and as a person with cultural heritage in colonised countries, I don’t want to ignore it.
What other important themes will be covered in these monologues?
Mental health comes up a lot, for these women who experienced so much trauma in a lot of ways. but also the privilege that they had in terms of how they faced their difficulties, those are big themes. But I also want to say that they’re a lot of fun and in places very funny as well (entirely due to the skills of our actors).
Sometimes we laugh at these characters, sometimes we laugh with them, but hopefully also connect with some of these other themes. You’re a big fan of Jane Austen! Tell us about how her works inspired you to start 24 Carrot Productions.
I am a big fan of Austen and I think it’s fabulous that the Austen fan world is coming to appreciate more and more the contributions of people of colour, and trying to understand how Austen fits into our understanding of race (and gender, and colonialism as well!).
I had been writing and directing pieces prior to the official formation of 24 Carrot Productions, but in 2017 we had some success with an adaptation of Austen’s 'Persuasion' (2017 was the 200th anniversary of Austen’s death) and that pushed me to set up the company officially. There’s an art exhibition going alongside 'The Regina Monologues'. What can art-lovers expect to see at that?
Each of the artists has been given an identical crown-shaped piece of board and asked to respond to the theme of 'Women And Power'. It’s been an open process, so there are some professional artists who are working on pieces as well as enthusiastic amateurs. I am expecting some really diverse responses to the prompt! If there’s one main message you’re hoping audiences take away from 'The Regina Monologues', what is it?
I think it would be that there’s so much in history that most of us don’t know, so many interesting and relatable stories in the past that illuminate our experience of the world as we experience it, even today. 'The Regina Monologues' plays Meat Market Stables (Melbourne) 1-4 July.