In 2006 Jessa Wildemeersch received a Grant from the Flemish Community to translate and perform this monologue (a story rooted in European history) for an American audience. Since then she has performed this solo piece both in America and Belgian in National Theatres as well as authentic historical locations.
Note from the author:
When starting to write the play, I decided to choose the year 1507 as a basis, as it seemed to me a pivoting point in European history. All the gold and silver of the New World came streaming in, the Inquisition swept over Spain and yet new influences, which later would be summarized as the Renaissance, began to affect a predominantly Christian society. While he Church was at the height of its worldly power, Luther was being ordained and Copernicus began to develop his heliocentric theories. Meanwhile the money of the world was slowly concentrating itself in Flanders, especially in Antwerp, whose port profited most from the discovery of America and the trade with India. When the first Portuguese ship arrived from Calicut, it was loaded with spices destined for the whole of northern Europe. Antwerp became the capital of the world economy, comparable to today's New York. At that time, a woman reaches a pivoting point in her own life. And that's where the story turns personal. The woman is twenty-seven, she has been manipulated again and again by her father and tries to get a hold on her life. Noble and misunderstood, that's how she feels. She has literary instinct and yet the circumstances of her descent seem to steer her into a political role she hasn't asked for. She doesn't know it yet, but soon she will become governess of the Lowlands and rule in the name of her minor nephew Charles. The rest is a play about power and poetry, which I wouldn't have written, if I could summarize it in a few lines. Margareth has a restless night, because the little Emperor Charles is due to arrive. She has to decide whether to pursue her own artistic ambitions or to sacrifice her life to serve the Emperor. While writing, I tried to analyze my own ambiguities. Where do I stand as a writer? Am I an engaged artist who takes ethical stands and analyses society or am I more of a musician, worrying above all about sound and composition? The dilemma Magaretha fought with, was also mine. At the same time it is the age-old dilemma of career versus children, a choice women are still grappling with today. It's those sensibilities I liked to investigate in my play. What's our freedom worth and what does it really mean to be free? As for the historical accuracy of the text, I heavily leaned upon a historical study of professor Leo Kooperberg, published in 1908 (Margaretha van Oostenrijk, landvoogdes der Nederlanden, tot den vrede van Kamerrijk, 1480 - 1509). He died in 1945 in Bergen-Belsen. But the main question is: will my play stand the test if it's presented to a public that's not too familiar with European politics in the sixteenth century? Will the flame in the text survive the historical context? Does the play feed our myths? This seems to me the main issue and foremost criterion. (Kamiel Vanhole/ author of 'Margaret's Awakening')