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WHISPER HOUSE: Kyle's Blog - STRUCTURE & OTHER ADVENTURES IN REVISION

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Grammy and Tony award-winning songwriter and composer Duncan Sheik returns with his new album WHISPER HOUSE, from Sony Music. WHISPER HOUSE marks Sheik's first solo album since 2006's critically-acclaimed White Limousine and comes on the heels of the success of Spring Awakening. WHISPER HOUSE, which will have its world premiere at the Old Globe Theatre in January 2010, is a collaboration with up-and-coming young playwright Kyle Jarrow, already an Obie winner for A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant.

It's 1942 - at the height of World War II- and Christopher, an imaginative young boy, is sent to live with an aunt he's never met: Lilly, a reclusive woman who serves as the keeper of a remote lighthouse. Not yet comfortable in his surroundings, Christopher begins to hear strange music no one else can hear seeping through the walls. It doesn't take long for him to suspect the lighthouse may be haunted, and these ghosts tell him that Yasujiro, a Japanese worker that Lilly has employed, should not be trusted. Is Christopher's imagination getting the best of him? Or are these ghosts warning Christopher about the very real dangers that lie ahead? Whisper House is a touching and beautiful story about how we should embrace, rather than fear, the unknown.

BroadwayWorld is excited to bring you Kyle's exclusive WHISPER HOUSE Blog!

This week I've been thinking a lot about revisions I want to make to the WHISPER HOUSE script. We're about a month and a half from starting rehearsals at The Old Globe, and I'm trying to slap the script into shape for Rehearsal One. I've been having fruitful discussions with director Peter Askin and with Duncan, plus I've been doing a lot of story analysis. Looking at the A Story and the B Story, making sure that neither disappears for too long a period, making sure they support each other thematically, making sure that they intertwine at the climax moment. I realized this week that the A Story in WHISPER HOUSE (the evolving relationship between Christopher and his Aunt Lilly) and the B Story (Yasuhiro and the suspicion that he's a spy) don't crash into each other at quite the right point in the current draft. The A Story reaches its resolution before the B Story does. I'd like them to both resolve at roughly the same time-in the climax sequence. So that's something I've been working on fixing.

This all sounds a little abstract when I write it out this way, but I think it'll end up being very important in ensuring the play delivers the right emotional punch for the audience. In my experience, structure is key to making that happen.

At one time, I was resistant to that kind of Robert McKee approach to writing-one that centers on the primacy of rigid structure in story. (Though of course that kind of story analysis is much older than McKee, going all the way back to Aristotle even.) I had the attitude, one I think is shared by many young writers, that a story just flows out fully formed with its own unique and inherent structure.

What I've learned is that isn't true. At least 99% of the time it's not. Even in the most avant-garde performance art piece, without a conventional story, there are still structural points that need to be hit to effectively create a satisfying shape of the evening for the audience. I remember my 8th grade English teacher drawing a chart of story structure-introduction, rising action, climax, denouement, etc. It took me years to come around to realizing how helpful that chart really is. It works. And there's a comfort in that. It's nIce To have a bit of a road map.

Kyle Jarrow is a writer and musician based in New York City. He writes for the stage as well as film and television, and he plays in the bands The Fabulous Entourage and Super Mirage. He won the prestigious OBIE Award at age 24 for his Off-Broadway hit A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant, which has subsequently been produced all over the country. Kyle's play Armless won the Overall Excellence Award at the New York International Fringe Festival. Other plays include Love Kills, Trigger, President Harding is a Rock Star, Rip Me Open (co-writer), Hostage Song (music & lyrics), Gorilla Man (script available from Samuel French), and the upcoming Big Money (with Nathan Leigh) and Whisper House (with Tony-winner Duncan Sheik, record now available from RCA/Victor).

For more information on Whisper House visit: www.duncansheik.com/whisperhouse

For more information on Kyle visit: www.landoftrust.com

Visit these links for exclusive newsletters:

Whisper House Newsletter: http://www.duncansheik.com/whisperhouse/signup.html

Masterworks Broadway Newsletter: www.masterworksbroadway.com

Photo of Kyle by Sarah Sloboda


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