It was August 2012 in Portugal. I was working with theatremaker Moncho Rodriguez on a Portuguese/Brazilian co-production that was due to tour in Brazil. He asked me to try-out a new unfinished text. The first sentence: “Hoje matei o meu homem” (“Today I killed a man”).
From that first cold reading I fell in love with that strong, powerful, enthralling text, a text that was also weird – that kind of weird that gives you goosebumps. Moncho must have sensed the connection I had with it, because he invited me to help with the research and development. We dived into that world – originally a text called ‘Amor Cadaver’ (Love’s Corpse) but that would eventually become ‘Labirinto de Amor e Morte’ (Labyrinth of Love and Death).
Early versions of the text were tried out in a series of rehearsed readings with community women’s groups in Portugal and their feedback was an important contribution to its development. Curiously, in the early stages, Moncho used a pen name, and audiences naturally assumed the author would had to have been a woman to express that inner universe. This process led to the first Portuguese production before touring in Brazil, then back to Portugal, then twice more to Brazil then some performances in Spain.
A few years after this I moved to London. Moncho would ask me: “when are you going to translate Labyrinth?”. Those words stuck with me. I did a rough translation and tried it out. But something was missing. It needed a poetic hand, and a connection, a bridge, with British audiences.
Enter writer/theatre maker Mark C. Hewitt (who I met through an audition and to whom I will always be grateful). I sent him my rough translation and he got interested in the idea of developing an English version of the piece. Mark was able to adapt it, keeping the essence of the Portuguese original but adding other layers and shortening the title to ‘Labyrinth’. In 2019 we previewed the English version as part of an Arts Council funded R&D project. We were all geared up to tour the work and apply for festivals when 2020 happened. We kept the project alive with a one-off performance in 2021 and a festival run at Brighton Fringe In 2022. This helped strengthen the work.
Now, finally, we are able to present the work as part of this series of women-centred shows celebrating International Women’s Day at Omnibus Theatre. The originator of the piece, Moncho Rodriguez, was delighted to hear about this new development. Then, on 28th January, sadly, I received the news that after a long battle with cancer, he passed away.
On 11th March, at 9pm, we will dedicate our performance to Moncho.