Monday, 13 November 2017

Today a Week Later, the Musical

One wonders how to end. Putting off an ending in favour of chronic beginning only works for so long. 
It occurred to me a few minutes ago, as I was composing what verse each character would contribute a love song . . .
Let me back up a little. Act Two, I imagined, begins with a few tenants (members of the Champlain Association of Tenants, or CAT) sitting around in the newly renovated amenities room not just doing the obvious--wondering what "amenities" might mean--but telling stories about being locked out. They compare tactics. For his part, Patty's dad says that what he does when he's locked out is work on his love song. What love song. Well I'll sing you a verse, he says. But it's not finished. And he sings, to guitar accompaniment, a single verse of a waltz both contemporary and traditional that says, to summarize, if I say anything lovely, I hope it's to you. It doesn't sound too bad. Either he or somebody else says why don't we each add a verse. Paleo Joey, who operates a food truck, says what is this, folk music? I don't think I can do this tempo (to which others reply, we don't either.) But he does, a verse about the smell of his burgers, which hopes reaches you. So there we are with this "you" on everybody's lips . . .
One of the ending moments in a story like this is the act of singing itself. The premise of this piece is that everybody wants out or in of/to something. The source of whatever issues they face--something within themselves, no doubt--shows up as isolation.
A beginning. Eventually, they sing.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

T, the M

I was talking to a lighting designer down at Globe Theatre. I asked her if it was a possible on a stage the size of Globe's--25', close to square I think--for two spotlights to evoke two separate rooms at the same time. She said maybe, but it would be top lighting. If I wanted faces to be visible, there'd have to be lighting from the side, and one light would bleed toward the other. 
To solve that problem, she said (I'm paraphrasing), what you can do is establish the cue with the top lighting, then elaborate. In other words, after you put the idea of "room" into your audience, you can play with it while maintaining the illusion. 
Observations such as these help fuel what I'm up to with this musical. I do remember Sharon Pollock telling us years ago in Nelson that if you want a million birds to fly up in front of your windshield in your play, write it into the script. The director will make it happen. I know it doesn't quite work that way--Nicolas Billon told us recently that in one play he wanted a huge block of ice in which a corpse is frozen. He had to settle for a few ice cubes in an aquarium upstage center. Still, if I want two rooms, write "two rooms." 
But I'm glad I asked an expert if it might work.
I was thrilled by her nod to audience. As I've tried to say before, the audience is what matters. It behooves us--it really does behoove!--not to forget it. 
(Remembering now something Hammerstein said: only when the curtain comes up is the circle complete.)
(And remembering now the flamenco audiences in Andalusia, which shared with performers moments of mutual need.)

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Today etc.

So there's this couple, in their 70s, going strong but for the usual "body flaws." They explore this concept in a song set both in their living room at a downtown heritage apartment (called today, for the first time, the Champlain) and at the local pool in high summer. Feeling free in the sun, the husband and wife sing and dance with noodles and floaties and balls--a pool toy story. They don't sit down until the end, which is where we leave them. They'd started that way when Patty, in the hallway, walks by their apartment, ear cocked. She gives us a dozen words of exposition and disappears until needed again. At the same time, the man and woman stand up, a tad unsteadily, and they're doing a verse at the pool. Of course, for the location switching to work, it has to work. I think it will.
Writing such a scene, I have to believe it. And so will the actors, so the audience believes it.