Workshop, 1/24/07

[This article is cross-posted from Dale’s blog, with additional instructions for group members.]

Wow o wow o wow!

Tonight we had our first workshop for William Blake’s Inn. In attendance were Marc and Molly Honea, Carol Lee Shankel, Melissa Houghton, Laura Lambert, Brenda Weaver, and me.

I brought everybody up to speed on what we were doing there, and what our eventual options were for the backers audition in May: we could stage a piece, we could stage puppet version of a piece (to show what an elaborate staging would look like), or we could project designs/sketches/ideas of a piece.

We passed out the scores and scripts to our three pieces, and we listened to all three. I sang them.

Then Marc talked about some approaches he had taken to coming up with ideas for the songs. We decided to work on Sun & Moon Circus first, so I rolled out a long piece of paper and taped it to the mirror.

We listened to the piece again, and wrote down images and thoughts and moods and feelings and ideas and characters.

Then we shared, and this is going to be the most fun, coming up with all the ideas that we can then use as staging. Marc contributed the idea of the Tiger and King of Cats, et al., having a magic slide show in their room. Among the images they’re watching are the Sun and Moon. Tiger begins to hear noises and gets spooked. I talked about how the music was both ominous and antipicatory.

Other ideas: the Rabbit as butler, turning into a ringmaster. The Inn as the living quarters for children’s toys, and the children have come for a visit. Angels outside the inn with the chime that recurs in the music, like on a clock. The Sun and Moon appearing on swings, or on circus drums. The Sun and Moon both as dancers and as puppets.

The Inn in the background with puppet versions of the characters we see later close up. A fullscale circus at the end of the song, with tumblers, angel tightrope walkers, clowns. The Tiger is pushed to jump through a hoop.

Several of us realized up front that one thing we have to keep in mind is what children will do in each piece. Since I originally wrote the work as a song cycle for adult chorus, I especially have to think about working children into the vocal texture.

Lots more ideas as well, but you get the picture.

We then watched the documentary on Nancy Willard, Uncommon Sense. She is amazing, both as a writer and as an artist. Very inspiring.

Homework for next week: draw/paint/collage a moment from Sun & Moon Circus. This is going to be fabulous!


If you’re one of our non-Wednesday members, i.e., you’re going to be a part of the creative process but can’t physically be there Wednesday nights, here are your instructions:

  • Go to Dale’s William Blake blog page and download the score for 4. Sun & Moon Circus Soothes the Wakeful Guests. (It’s a PDF file.)
  • Go to and head to our room, which is ID# 067760.
  • Explore a bit, but you’re there to download the PDF file of the script for Sun & Moon Circus. You don’t really have to have this, but it’s another way of looking at the text.
  • Collect images from the web; imagine what the song would look like staged; add to the ideas we’ve had, even if they contradict what we’re already thought of.
  • Add these ideas/images to the Vyew pages. You can also add comments to this post.

New website

Head over to and check it out. Let me know what needs to change: what we need to add, clean up, streamline, make clearer.

This blog will be part of it, but I have to find the time to move it over there. Not as easy as it sounds, and I won’t bore you with the big voodoo science magic entailed.

The blog will continue to be our workspace, our journal, as we begin to develop William Blake’s Inn. Expect fresh perspectives.
Marc’s theatre training materials will be split off into their own section, which will make them easier to reference.


Today I purchased the domain, so in about a week we will have our own website.

It will consist of a front page, with articles and calendars, with two blogs: the group blog, and Marc’s theatre training blog. Something to look forward to, besides the start of the William Blake workshop.

re: said workshop, we will begin working on Wednesday, January 24, 7:00 pm, at the Newnan School of Dance, on three pieces from William Blake: “The Sun & Moon Circus Soothes the Wakeful Guests,” “The Man in the Marmalade Hat Arrives,” and “Two Sunflowers Move Into the Yellow Room.”

We will work on these pieces on Wednesday nights, with perhaps some building sessions on weekends.

Probably on Tuesday, May 1, we will present the entire work again, this time with the three mocked-up pieces, for the movers and shakers whose responsibility it will be to produce this project. Then we’ll make decisions about moving forward from there.

For a full account of last week’s First Look see here.

For vocal scores and mp3s of the three works, see here.

Exciting beginnings

Tonight, the octet who will sing through what is essentially the premiere performance of A Visit to William Blake’s Inn will meet at my house to nail down the entrances and exits of the music, plus the actual notes of “Blake Leads a Walk on the Milky Way.”

This is exciting, folks. Tomorrow night, we throw open our doors and invite others to witness what could be the beginning of a fabulous, long-lived, widely-known theatre piece. Do not miss it!