splint: hello Miche!!! tell us a little about you.
Miche: my name is Miche Montague and I currently run two small enterprises. MJM Training where I work as a creative practitioner, drama tutor and freelance director and I am also artistic director of MoCo Theatre which is a company that represents the ambitions of male actors between 18 and 30. MoCo launched last year with a production of A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess at the Shoe Factory Social Club in Norwich. It became very apparent that I wanted MoCo to be both site specific and immersive. Following on from that success, I knew I wanted the second project to focus on male mental health – more specifically Anxiety Disorder. We are currently in the embryonic stages of creating a text around Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, we have just done a open rehearsal at Stage Two as a part of their Creative Matters, Men’s Mental Health Month.
splint: why a theatre company for men?
Miche: everybody asks that question and as a woman, for a split second I feel embarrassed. It’s really simple, the reason that MoCo (at this moment in time) represents young men is because the students that were coming to me asking for my support; asking me to dare; asking me to try; were all males – not one female student came and asked. The reason that it has stayed as an all male company (for now), is because it is exciting to see how men tackle female roles and typically female themes. I am sure if I was working with all women it would have been a totally different production and equally as exciting.
splint: you’re obviously a very busy lady… how do you keep yourself going and motivate yourself?
Miche: when I was at drama school I became passionate about the theatre and about how theatre gives people a voice. It’s not just for me, it’s not just the piece itself, it’s about getting people talking – and that is what interests me and motivates me. When I started working with young people my passion grew and with the passion came the determination.
splint: you said you found theatre, you found this thing you needed to…
Miche: which is quite strange for me because actually, I am a shy person. I would rather read, I didn’t go to parties, it just wasn’t me. When you’re on stage you’re not you, working in front of people is fine but as soon as I have to introduce myself as Miche – I don’t like that.
splint: how would you say you have overcome challenges that you have faced?
Miche: my first big challenges were divorce and becoming a single mum. I overcame those by focusing on the love I felt for my child and working hard to provide for us. My second challenge was how do I stay in this wonderful creative world and earn a living – I turned to the education side of theatre, sharing my experience and supporting peoples creativity. My challenge now is how I move forward – not as a mum but as ‘me’. MoCo is my way forward . . . how will I overcome this challenge – watch this space!
splint: what is your experience of working with men in the creative industry?
Miche: It’s tricky. In the rehearsal room I don’t think there is any difference between men and women. Working with men has been as exciting and as informative as working with women – there is no difference. I think if you are talking about the arts and running theatres, they are mostly run by men and I think looking back I don’t think I was treated in the serious way I should have been. Not that people don’t value or give me work but a woman then was never seen as someone who should lead the way forward.
splint: if you could meet any woman dead or alive, who would it be?
Miche: oh and of course Virginia Woolf! Who wouldn’t. Why . . . she wasn’t afraid to raise issues of feminism and mental illness. She also said (if I remember the quote from A levels correctly) ‘a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is going to write’. She enjoyed public success, had so many amazing ideas, was the most creative, innovative woman but failed to believe in herself . . . I also love the romanticism of being part of the Bloomsbury set.
splint: what is it like juggling so many plates, being a single mother and a creative cant be an easy task..
Miche: I was married when I became pregnant and had a child. When I became a single parent, people I didn’t know treated me very differently. Made assumptions about me and who I was. It shocked me. My life changed hugely. People would assume I wasn’t educated up to university level and wouldnt understand the need to have to earn money. You lose yourself to being a mum and a provider. Working in a creative industry doesn’t clock off at 5.30pm. It’s a hard balancing act. Riddled with guilt. Then one day your child doesn’t need you in the same way. He’s flown the nest and is beginning his own journey. So, this proud mum is now waking up wondering who she is and what she wants and where her life should be headed.
splint: – advice to others? People looking into doing things for themselves?
Miche: number one, just do it. Never half do something, do it today and don’t wait until tomorrow . . . tomorrow might never come. Number two, believe in yourself and shout about ‘you’. Don’t rely on anyone else to do it for you and finally number three, take time for ‘you’. Take care of ‘you’.
splint: very very very wise words! Thank you so much for your time Miche and welcome to the splint family.