Workshop (5/8/07)

[cross-posted from Dale’s blog]

We met to debrief the backers audition, congratulate ourselves, and prepare for the next phase.

We discussed whether to call the production A Visit to William Blake’s Inn or, as I had printed out in various fonts on the wall, William Blake’s Inn. I pointed out that we were talking three separate works here: Nancy’s book, my song cycle (both entitled A Visit...), and the stage show, the title of which was up for grabs. There was something to be said for separating the stage show from the other two.

Also, I pointed out that it’s nearly impossible to get the entire title balanced typographically. I know, since I’ve had to do it on flyers, post cards, posters, all kinds of things. There’s just no way.

However, Marc suggested making the logo such that William Blake’s Inn was the major visual component, with A Visit to not as noticeable above it. His point was that he hated to lose the idea of “a visit” in the title. We agreed with that. We also thought perhaps a professional graphic artist might have more flexible ideas.

I filled everyone in on what I knew about the Cultural Arts Commission’s role at this point, which is not much. We have a volunteer to head up the project, although whether she has volunteered to be über-producer or just the Scotland coordinator, even I am not clear. The Commission meets tomorrow, so we’ll know more then.

We defined what our role was going to be in this venture: we propose the budget; we workshop the piece and develop the script and visual materials; we work with the designer(s); we cast the show; we rehearse the show; we produce the educational materials for schools (book studies/music).

The organizing committee’s roles: produce the show; find space and resources; organize volunteers; raise money; pay bills; publicize the show; handle the Scotland connection; handle the Willard exhibit;

We think we really need to hire a technical director (TD) to supervise (and perhaps design) the sets and costume construction. We will need to pay the musical director. We should pay the director, though I blush to say it. We will need a real lighting designer and a sound engineer.

I’ve already defined the next three phases somewhere, but I’ll restate them here. During Phase 1 (Aug. 2007-May 2008), Lacuna will workshop the show and propose the budget; the Organizing Committee (WBOC) will begin organizing, raising money, lining up space and resources. During Phase 2 (Jan. 2008-Oct. 2008), Lacuna will design the educational materials and assist with the construction of costumes, etc.; WBOC will continue to raise money, begin to publicize, line up the Scotland and Willard things, start the construction process. During Phase 3 (Aug. 2008-Oct. 2008), Lacuna will audition and rehearse the show; WBOC will publicize and organize whatever needs to be done leading up to opening night.

All of this is a grand, fuzzy outline which we’ll have to clarify in many, many conversations with the WBOC. So off into Limbo we go!

Backers audition, May 3, 2007

[cross-posted from Dale’s blog]

First of all, the backers audition was a success. I thought the chorus sounded as good in parts as they’ve ever done, and I think they’d agree with me that we just fell apart on some spots, especially the first number. I have come to hate computerized accompaniment.

Solos were all spot on, mostly because we could follow the accompaniment by ourselves. Coordinating the whole gang was more of an issue.

I thought Denise and Marc set a wonderful tone with A Rabbit Reveals My Room. Marc’s Bear was wonderfully comfortable.

Our staging for The Man in the Marmalade Hat Arrives worked, although I would love to see it on video. We had a lot of pieces to move around and I’d like to see if it looked cluttered or if it looked intriguing. From the still photos I have, I think it looked as if we knew what we were doing. And of course, the hedgehogs were adorable.

The King of Cats Orders an Early Breakfast and The King of Cats Sends a Postcard to His Wife were solid hits. I was actually accused of enjoying myself a little too much, but the songs are incredibly fun to sing, and present plenty of opportunities for characterization.

Anne’s voice is such an incredible instrument. I’ve told her that every time I write a soprano solo, I’m thinking of her. The Wise Cow Enjoys a Cloud and The Wise Cow Makes Way, Room, and Believe show her off to perfection.

Two Sunflowers Move into the Yellow Room was a huge hit. First of all, the song is quite lovely in and of itself, and I think our staging astonished everyone. Melissa and Denise sounded quite lovely together. The sunflowers themselves were a clever idea, and the sunflower waltz was a wicked combination of parody of and homage to classical ballet.

All the comments I’ve gotten indicate that Blake Leads a Walk on the Milky Way is the crowd favorite. It’s a gorgeous piece, of course, but I’m sort of surprised: it’s nearly seven minutes long, with long sections where there’s no singing. Formally, it’s in modified sonata form, but that’s not going to register with 98% of the listeners. I can’t explain its appeal, other than people just thrill to its ultra-romantic stylings.

The rest of the work went well: Malcolm’s Marmalade Man, Mary Frances’s Tiger, and Marc’s Tailor, all hit the mark.

Most importantly, the performance impressed an awful lot of people and opened their eyes to what we’ve been talking about. We have a coordinator from the Cultural Arts Commission who’s willing to take on the project, more about which later. That was our major goal in staging the evening, so whatever weaknesses qua weaknesses were evident, they are completely irrelevant.