Guest Blog: Annual Goodspeed Festival of New Musicals Blog #5 - LOST
525,600 snowflakes...525,000 inches of snoooow.
Welcome back friends! Welcome back to the balmy summery weather of 30 degrees.
I hope this finds you happy and thawing out as I sit here in jean shorts, sipping at Rosé (a boy can dream, no?)
Winter storms are a tremendous inconvenience for everyone...except when you're in the process of workshopping a new musical. There's nowhere to go and nothing to do but work. And work we did, as we plowed into rewrites and tweaks and fixes and all the magical things that allow a show to begin to find its focus.
Director/Muse/Inspiration Igor Goldin has the cast up on their feet and we've made it through a majority of the show, beginning to unearth more and more about the journey of Andrew and his trek across the United States. A show about someone physically traveling has to move, and I don't mean just in staging, but in the way the story is told. We have to reassess how a musical works in structure and then start to bend that structure in new ways to allow the story to flow as it demands.
This whole project is initially based on a podcast and so has a fragmented feel to it, with the through line being Andrew's thoughts that he speaks directly into a recorder as he is walking.
(Check it out here, but I am not to be held accountable for how much your heart will swell: https://transom.org/2013/walking-across-america-advice-for-young-man/ )
Our task is to make these thoughts into a driving force that engages an audience to follow our protagonist as he sets out to find answers. A challenge? My god, yes. Worth it? My god, yes.
Then come the rewrites, and here is where I'll take you into my mind as a writer.
Nothing is more satisfying than knowing you've finished the first draft of a project, as it's something that has been on your plate for months or even years. And now there's an entirety to it and you can print it out and physically look at the whole picture.
Then comes the next element, a cast.
And everything changes more than you even expected. Words that seemed to flow so freely when you read them back to yourself, now trip the tongue of actors and it's obvious you need to find a clearer way of saying the exact same thing. You need to make these people still sound like ordinary people, but who find themselves in sometimes extraordinary circumstances. Humanity is the most important task. Can an audience find themselves in these people? If not, why am I asking them to sit in a theatre for two and a half hours? These are the things that keep you up at night or find you brewing a pot of coffee at 6 a.m. because inspiration is never on a normal schedule. When it comes, you better be alert and have a pencil and paper ready.
Then there's the inspiration that actors bring and how your work can feel below the bar of the talent that's being displayed, and so you must rise to the occasion. A song that was wonderful in a demo, now soars in front of you and you must take another look at the scene that leads into it. Are we earning this moment? There's an age old philosophy that states that in musicals an actor sings when words are no longer enough. The emotion or stakes are at such a high that your characters have no choice but to communicate in a new way...they sing.
So back to the drawing board you go and ask yourself "What is this scene about?"
"What does our protagonist want/need in this scene?"
"Why do they come across this person at this moment in time?"
Again, pot of coffee at 6 a.m. with a brain overflowing in thought. But it's necessary. It's what makes an okay scene turn into a scene that seamlessly flows into song and gives an audience the emotional punch that they deserve.
And so that's where we are now, every day a major step forward and every morning feeling stronger and stronger about the story we tell.
You walk into a rehearsal room of exceptional actors with beautiful voices and there's nowhere else you could ever want to be.
Well readers, that's it for now. Enjoy the swelter of the day, start that base tan and I'll see you back here at the end of the week.