The Heroines are here!

12th Aug 2020

15 Heroines

Last week we announced 15 Heroines, our specially commissioned production running 9-14 November 2020. Fifteen leading British playwrights are adapting stories from Ovid for their new worlds. To book tickets for performances of The WarThe Desert, and The Labyrinth, click here.
As a special 15 Heroines taster, this week three of the playwrights tell us more about writing their characters.

Charlotte Jones - Laodamia

So Laodamia is just a regular girl. Well ok a fairly well appointed regular girl. A Real Housewife of Thessaly sort of girl. She’s not into incest or murder or kissing girls or any of the weird, "out there" stuff these other so called “heroines” go in for. She just loves her man Protesileas. They’ve got it going on- both in and out of the bedroom. Where’s the sin in that? She doesn’t even care that he was once a suitor for Helen- I mean that was way before he met her. And as far as she’s concerned Helen ain’t all that. The girl’s a snake, she knew as soon as she met her- she’s not a girly girl at all. But now her man is off to fight the Trojan War because of a girl who pied him off and Laodamia's got a very bad feeling about it. She’s having, like, mental health issues and her personal grooming has gone out the window. Laodamia is a woman who follows her gut but she also loves to consult a psychic now and again (for fun you know). But the omens are bad. Very bad. And I’m not going to lie to you, Laodamia is a worrier. And ok she’s a tiny bit of a control freak. So she needs to lay down the law to her man P before he starts fighting. She doesn’t want him playing the hero, trying to show off to the other boys (she knows what he’s like.) She has to remind him that he’s a lover, not a fighter and she needs him back in her bed where he belongs…

Laodamia feels deliciously modern. She also feels the most normal of all the women. She has a girl next door vibe- she’s really relatable to, she’s young and funny and her story is refreshingly romantic.You really root for her and Protileseas. They’d definitely win Love Island if they entered. But like the usual Love Island victors, as much as you root for them, you have that sinking feeling that they won’t be together in six month’s time...

It’s just great fun to be reclaiming these classics for a modern audience and a real delight to be part of a fabulous group of women playwrights bringing a modern sensibility and a psychological acuity to Ovid’s Heroides.

In lockdown, as well as writing, I have been mostly learning modern Greek (125 day streak on Duolingo!). 

Stella Duffy - Dido

The Dido I'm writing, is not 'Dido-and'. She is not a woman identified merely by her love affair. She is a traveller, a refugee, a survivor. She is the woman who founded a great city and made her own choices about her life. 

She is about choice and taking responsibility for her choices. The gods may have set the wheels in motion, but she takes her control.

Writing about mythological characters is how we understand ourselves - fairy tales, movies, video games, love songs, theatre - they're all just ways to understand ourselves, our passions, our desire and our faults. The myths are stories at heart, just stories, and story is how humans communicate. 

This summer I've also been working on the page proofs for my new novel Lullaby Beach that comes out with Virago in February 2021, Fun Palaces new (and Covid-safe) 1000 Tiny Fun Palaces community call-out for October, and three essays for my psychotherapy training.

Samantha Ellis - Phyllis

What I love about Phyllis is her anger. She’s been abandoned and she’s furious about it, and she wants to tell her story. She wants to seize control of the narrative and be the heroine not the victim. I don’t think she’d be happy that Ovid has written her story. She’s not very keen on men telling her story. She wants to tell it herself. I also love that she’s from the east and she’s so furious that this man has turned up from the east, and he’s shipwrecked, he’s war-wounded, and she’s fixed his ships and healed his wounds and she’s given him all this love and he’s just left. She’s also very funny, and she is working things out, thinking all the time. I think she’s a very exciting heroine for now; she’s angry and trapped and alone and I think a lot of us feel that way. 

Over the summer I’ve been looking after my dinosaur-mad three year old so I have been doing a lot of palaeontology (!). I’m also working on a film, a TV show and the beginnings of a new play about cultural identity, authenticity and loss.

For more information about all the writers of 15 Heroines and to book tickets for The War, The Desert or The Labyrinth, visit the webpage here.