Tango Noir takes place in October 1917, shortly before the execution of Marguerite Zelle for treason at the Palais de Vincennes, Paris. Better known as Mata Hari, Zelle had once taken Paris by storm with her exotic dancing and, more recently, had been pursuing a successful, albeit stormy, career as a courtesan. In 1917 she was 41 years old.
Colette, in whose dream life the play takes place, would have been known to Marguerite as a novelist and actress. Colette too had tried her hand at exotic dancing in a style and in costumes remarkably similar to Mata Hari’s. In 1917 she was 44, and was working as a wartime journalist. In this dream encounter she finds herself as Mata Hari struggling with a surreal version of herself played by a male actor who also shifts into embodiments of Mata Hari’s Jailor and Collette’s real life husband.
Bête Blanche, written as a companion piece for Tango Noir, depicts a woman, Faye, who is at an earlier stage of self-determination than Colette in Tango Noir. The structure in each play is a mirror image of the other with the whole forming a sort of theatrical diptych on the struggle for spiritual integration.
In Preservation Blues, the third play in the collection, photographer Cass, examines photographs she recently took in a surreal and ephemeral New Orleans. A series of voices slip in and out of her narration, with imagery and tales that underline her rapidly increasing moral decay.
About the Author
ROSE SCOLLARD, co-founder of Maenad Theatre, has 31 produced dramas. In 1996 she was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, an international award for literary excellence in women playwrights. In 1997 as Markin Flanagan playwright-in-residence at the University of Calgary she completed Caves of Fancy, published in Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley: Writing Lives (Wilfrid Laurier, 2001).
In 2000 she co-authored Strategies: The Business of Being a Playwright in Canada with Caroline Russell King (Playwright’s Canada Press.) Fifteen of her plays appear in North American Women’s Drama, an electronic study collection for university libraries. Firebird, published in TYA 5 (Playwrights Union of Canada 1998), premiered in Germany in 2003.