ANNA Porubcansky is co-artistic director of Company of Wolves, Scotland’s only laboratory theatre company, with artist-performer Ewan Downie. Following Downie’s dynamic solo outing Achilles earlier this year, Porubcansky now presents Unbecoming, a provocative new piece focusing on women, society and desire.

UNBECOMING began as an attempt for me to understand my own emotional responses to becoming a new mother.

Totally new sensations overwhelmed me: the most intense, all consuming love. And, at the same time, pure, hot rage. Rage at being the only person my daughter ever seemed to want. Rage at losing myself completely to that need. How is it that these emotions could simultaneously course through my body? How are human beings capable of holding that much charge? And what do we do with it if we can’t discharge it?

I started reading. Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca took me to Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. Anais Nin’s Henry and June led me to Pauline Reage’s The Story of O. Angela Carter’s treatise The Sadeian Woman and the Ideology of Pornography. George Eliot’s Middlemarch. Barbara Leaming’s biography of Marilyn Monroe.

What struck me, over and over again, was that these women, spanning centuries and cultures and social norms, were all getting at or wrestling with the same thing: a tearing balance between submitting – to expectations, to the desires of others – and breaking free, into something wild and true.

And yet, it’s not so cut and dry. There’s a strange grey space between these extremes, a place of doubt and confusion, self-justification and self-manipulation. The character of O in Pauline Reage’s startlingly hardcore The Story Of O embodies just this. O justifies being tortured, raped, and staggeringly mutilated because she loves the man who asks her to do these things.

She believes she is in control of the situation because she has chosen the situation. But has she? Are these choices her own? Or are they a product of a complex web of self-deception?

I’ve been working on this show on and off for more than a year now. But Unbecoming has been bubbling in my head for close to 10. It took becoming a mother to propel me into action.

Becoming a mother tore every shred of who I thought I was away from me. I got lost in a vortex of conflicting emotion, demands, and responsibilities so much bigger than myself.

Becoming a mother made me question who I am as a woman. Who I was as a girl. What I’ve lost and gained along the way. I needed to have all of that taken away in order to understand what I was missing.

If we want to start building a healthier, more compassionate world, it seems to me we need to start interrogating ourselves. Really interrogating, which means not hiding from the hard, ugly stuff because that’s as much a part of us as everything else.

Unbecoming is an examination of these spaces in between certainties. It’s about a woman’s experience simply because I am a woman.

But these are questions as much for men as they are for women. How much of what we’ve become is what we’ve chosen to become? How much is because it’s chosen for us – by our families, our lovers, our children, our communities, our society? Do we have any agency in this? And if not, who the hell are we?

Apr 20 and 21, Cumbernauld Theatre, 7.30pm, £8. Tel: 01236 732887.

Apr 28 as part of Outskirts Festival, Platform, Glasgow, 3.30pm to 11pm, £10, £7.50 concs. Tel: 0141 276 9696.

May 31 to Jun 2 as part of Hidden Door Festival, Leith, Edinburgh, various times and prices.

Jun 15, The Barn, Banchory, 7.30pm, £8, £5 concs. Tel: 01330 825431.

Jun 20 Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock, 7.30pm, £8, £5 concs. Tel: 01475 723723. @CompanyWolves #Unbecoming