Time to weigh in on this one. What do we want on the “library lot” here in Ann Arbor. It seems self-evident that we need a public social space for Ann Arbor residents. OK. Let’s think about it. How do we get there? » Read the rest of this entry «
I’ve been working on musical settings of Arnold Lobel’s FABLES for several years now, and am finally at the point of getting singing actors to take a look at them. I have a metaphor.
Over the past few years I’ve been involved with the Purple Rose Theatre Company in Chelsea, Michigan. One of the cool things the Purple Rose does is to “greenhouse” new plays by taking a week… » Read the rest of this entry «
Ahh yes, it has been some time since I posted regularly at theWheel – how could that be…? Truth be told, I’ve been swamped, and theWheel was also at a transition point, so it just seemed best to let it go for a bit. And how was I swamped?
In a word, Gravity. This winter I’ve had the good fortune to write music for the world premier of David MacGregor’s play Gravity at the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea Michigan. It’s been a great experience, and sufficiently consuming that I just didn’t want to be distracted by theWheel or anything else. The play is about the great Natural Philosopher Isaac Newton at a critical point of his life in 1693, when he was 50 years old. If you live in the South Eastern Michigan region, or even anywhere close, you will be well rewarded if you come to the show. Being involved with the play myself, I hesitate to say much more than that I believe that David MacGregor has written a Masterpiece – it is really really good – and that a very talented Purple Rose team, led by Artistic Director Guy Sanville, has delivered a loving production. Here are a couple of reviews. Do come if you can.
Per theWheel, I’ll have more to say later in the week. I’ll be posting again, and you are invited to join me. Till then…
This week it is my happy duty to be directing actors in a scene from Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The School for Scandal. The scene in question, Scene I from ACT II, is between the rather late middle aged Sir Peter Teazle and his young wife Lady Teazle:
SIR PETER. Lady Teazle, Lady Teazle, I’ll not bear it!
LADY TEAZLE. Sir Peter, Sir Peter, you may bear it or not, as you please; but I ought to have my own way in everything, and what’s more, I will, too. What! though I was educated in the country, I know very well that women of fashion in London are accountable to nobody after they are married.
In the course of reading various books on theatrical directing, I found my way to Harold Clurman’s On Directing. Now, I am interested in the theater, but I always find myself, perhaps inevitably, considering any thoughts I have concerning the theater as potentially applicable to my various musical endeavors. So it is with Clurman’s book. At the beginning of Chapter 7 – The Director’s Work Script – the author has this to say:
Having read the script six or more times and decided what the play’s main action or spine is, the director would then do well to study the play in still another way. He should read all the parts separately as if he himself were going to act each of them. This will help him find the spines of the chief motivating action for each character. The character’s spine must be conceived as emerging from the play’s main action. Where such a relation is not evident or non-existent, the character performs no function in the play. There is no basis for a true characterization unless the character’s prime motivation or spine is found.
Hmmm…this seems to be a particularly fertile metaphor for choices one makes in arranging and orchestrating music.
The other morning I attended a 4th Grade Recorder concert (you know, the hooty little flutelike wind instruments) at my daughter’s elementary school. It was much as you might imagine. Several tunes were played by the whole 4th grade, but there were also several solos, which lead me to tonight’s topic…
Let me pass along an acting tip from Ian McKellen via Patrick Stewart:
Here’s the passage from Macbeth:
“She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word. To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.” — Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5, lines 17-28)
This little clip struck me as very interesting. It has something to say about acting craft and “the illusion of the first time”, but also implies we might use this craft to help us to live mindfully in the moment.
If we attend mindfully to the small things, to the conjunctions in our lives, might we not live more richly and truthfully?
Perhaps we might become more convincing actors in our own stories?
Welcome to the Future. 2009 is on its way. I don’t know about you, but I feel poised, on the cusp of something. Many bits of experience are coalescing into a conviction that profound change is upon us, for better and for worse.
Now that Obama has won the Presidency, I find myself strangely disinterested in politics. It’s as though now that there is a possibility of sane stewardship and leadership in Washington, those of us who are possible cultural players have our work cut out for us.
The first self-consciously dramatic song I ever wrote got written because I was living in Connecticut way back in 1991 and had read about a musical theater workshop in Manhattan – the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop – that had participants write a ballad for Blanche DuBois from Tenessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire as an assignment. » Read the rest of this entry «