BWW Blog: Jake Winn of Signature's KID VICTORY - And We Made Them All Up
"And We Made Them All Up"
Back in November, at a workshop reading of Kid Victory, Liesl Tommy, Greg Pierce, Christaine Noll, John Kander and I sat around a table in the basement of the Vineyard theatre, discussing the ethics of character decision-making. The discussion grew heated as we argued about whether or not a character was making the "right" decision in the climactic scene of the play. This went on for several minutes and all of a sudden John began to chuckle. Faces red and hands outstretched in gesticulation, we all froze and turned our gaze to Mr. Kander. In the silence, John crossed his arms and proclaimed "and we made them all up!"
When John and Greg first came up with the idea for Kid Victory almost two years ago, they started by researching many past American kidnappings. They were fascinated not just by what happened to these children when they were in captivity but about the untold story: what happened when they returned. Memoirs, interviews, and articles seemed to eschew details about how the victims were reintegrated into their former lives. Drawing from both their research and imagination, they set about creating an entirely original story, with fictive characters and events.
In a modern form so inundated with adaptations and revivals, the sheer act of creating an original musical is impressive enough. Yet the characters they put on paper reach so far and beyond simply innovative fiction. We've spent the past five plus week unpacking this script and getting to know these characters, as complicated and layered as they are. Now, as I look out on the audience each night, I feel that the focus is palpable. Afraid to cough, afraid to blink, that they might miss the next step of Luke's journey or the next insight into these characters lives and minds. And we made them all up.
After the show yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking in depth with two different audience members. One patron had just returned from a two-year tour as a U.S. Marine. He talked about the complexities of PTSD that Kid Victory captured, and how deeply he connected with Luke's story. The other patron had a child who underwent a traumatic experience similar to that of Luke's. In tears, she told me how difficult the viewing was for her, how deeply it resonated with her, and, ultimately, how it began to give her clarity and, hopefully, some sort of closure. And we made them all up.
The process of creating Kid Victory has been the most rewarding and challenging creative process I've ever been apart of. In that rehearsal room these past weeks with these astonishingly talented and brilliant creators, we have worked to create a piece of art; a piece that is charged, topical, and resonant. Now, as we move into opening and the run of the show, I'm looking at a show that I am profoundly proud of. A show with the power to impact an audience in ways we haven't even imagined, and perhaps the most incredible part is, well, we made it all up.