TALKING THROUGH ACT III: OR SHE CAN DO THAT
I’ve been creating a long time, but mostly, it’s been a solitary process.
I had the kind of experience today that made me feel as if collaboration could be just as good as doing stuff on my own.
For a cheerful introvert like me, this revelation had all the subtlety of a two by four to the side of my square, oh-so-Scandinavian head.
Act III of One Way In, without providing a spoiler alert, is just chock a block full of different feelings, but more relevant for today, LOTS of different music.
For other librettists, this variety might have sparked anxiety.
But not for me…I work with Lydia Busler-Blais.
She can shake it.
Some chant or simple liturgical music?
She can set it.
Some madcap dance music?
She can get down with it.
The most “significant” orchestral music?
Whether limber or limpid, quasi-Corelli or proto-Prokoviev, she’s got it.
She can swing it.
Today, I even asked her for purposeful musical noise.
Her response was so confident, I half-expected her to ask me what “mode” I wanted.
You get the idea.
Last month, she was performing revels, this month, I’m reveling in her versatility.
Get ready to listen, friends, because she can ‘bring’ it.
The title may be One Way In, but her roads to bring you to musical arrival are many.
You’re in for a treat, folks.
See you next time.ONE MORE STEP ALONG THE ROAD
My partner had just come in off the road, after a snowy, but successful series of “REVELS” performances, complete with triumph and early morning fire alarm rousings in her motel.
But, when she played me the first vocal arrangement from One Way In’s Act I, all these recent events were swept from my mind like the broom I use to get the snow off my car!
We get to hear one of our heroines sing a duet with her father, a holy man, and the music is and was so many things.
It confirmed my sense that One Way In is laced with big ideas, big dreams, big challenges, and generational relationships expressing both total connection and elaborate betrayal.
It confirmed my sense that One Way in has roots in liturgical themes from two different religious traditions, and Lydia’s skill and sensitivity in handling this first offering made my heart sing with recognition.
It confirmed my sense that One Way In is populated with old souls and timeless themes, as well as 21st century young people with their own particular zeitgeist, and much in between.
Finally, it confirmed that Lydia and I, as we first discussed, should resist with all our might, categorizing this collaboration in any limiting way. It’s big and small, contemporary and classical, chant-like and fully instrumental, minor and major, sweet, dark, joyous, significant, and profound.
I was excited to hear what I heard today and even more excited that you, too, will hear it.
Until next time, my friends…stay tuned! COLLABORATION, OR THE GREAT WORK BEGINS
Last time I talked to you, we were on the road to high summer, solstice right around the corner, and I told you about the totality of a production, how it depended on so many things, how its “reality” was a product of so many ingredients, including a particular night’s audience.
Now, the leaves are down, those that remain shudder in their final brown before they disappear under that cold, but cleansing cloak of winter. We are moving toward another solstice, but this time, it’s at the other end of the year.
But I do have good news.
Instead of conversing with you concerning interesting but abstract considerations of a playwright’s craft, I have new of real collaboration.
Lydia and I spent time last week in our studio, talking through Act I, and it blew me away.
Yes, I have a collaborator, creative, incredibly talented, multi-faceted, and brave. The first pieces she’s played for me from One Way In made me shiver, not just with appreciation, but with anticipation of treasures to come.
You’re in for a treat.
I have a new appreciation of the wonders of a partnership, the intersection of two stars that alight separately then align in the joy of mutual discovery, experimentation, and trust.
How lucky am I?
I kept looking around, wondering how it all came to this. If I’m hazy, you might be even hazier, but if so, go back to the beginning of the blog and read all this through again.
Of course, I have to loan her out, to her family, to Revels, her touring schedule, and to her muse, or at least the muse that is not bound up with One Way In.
We will be meeting over the next few months to flesh out the current bones of structure so that we can test what we have to make sure it doesn’t break.
Then what happens?
At that point, we call you in, and you show that you care about what we’re doing, and you create along with us, you support us, you collaborate with us on One Way In.
At that point, it will belong to us.
Last time, I talked about how directors “punctuate” what playwrights do with their use of stage direction, some called for by the playwright, but, if the playwright knows what he’s doing, most simply added by a director the playwright trusts.
This time, I want to talk about reality. Here’s where you, the potential (and I hope, actual!) audience come in.
Reality doesn’t consist of an audience member or critic saying, “That isn’t realistic.” Playwrights create a world that isn’t beholden to any “common” sense of the physical world, or the world that most people know.
As a result, the reality that playwrights care about, and the reality their audience cares about is internal consistency.
What do I mean?
Well, it’s like this: does a character’s action or lack of action or choice make sense in what we’ve seen the character do or not do or choose before? Is what happens in the play CONSISTENT WITH THE WORLD THAT THE PLAYWRIGHT HAS CREATED, INCLUDING THE CHARACTERS IN IT?
That’s the only reality that matters, internal consistency.
This issue is why playwrights workshop their material, providing drafts of it to fellow authors whose sense they trust to tell them if the internal consistency of a work is what it should be.
So, based on last post, and this post, you can now see that a musical stage production is a four-cornered partnership (at least in this case), a partnership including someone writing the story, the spoken text, and the lyrics (that’s me); the music (that’s Lydia); the fully developed action on the stage (the director); and the totality of the experience. This last ingredient is something the audience fully participates in.
Talk to any performer after a performance, and they’ll tell you that an audience was responsive or not, and this responsiveness or lack of it contributed to a particular night’s experience for those on the stage and those watching what took place on the stage.
Lars lost his battle with