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Blog: Musical Theatre Initiative

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I had a very LONG very BUSY very MIND EXPANDING weekend this weekend just past, as I spent it ALL at the Stratford East Musical Theatre Initiative. This was a three day WORKSHOP where they got together a bunch of people from different Musical Areas (e.g. DJ types, jazz singers, poets, proper musicians, playwrights... and me) to come together, TALK about how musicals work, and write together.

Put like that it sounds a bit airy fairy but GOOD GRAVY it was a LOT of WORK. We were basing everything around the play A Raisin In The Sun which is, by the way, AMAZING. It's like an alternate universe version of Arthur Miller or something. A few days before I'd been sent the WRONG play (which was a bit boring, to be honest) so ended up having to get up early on Saturday morning to read the RIGHT one (we'd gone with parents to see The Pajama Game on Friday night. REVIEW: it was Quite Good, especially the bits that featured GARY WILMOT) and RACED through. It's ace!

Anyway, we talked a LOT on Friday about Musicals Stuff and then looked at the play, TALKED some more, and then got put into pairs, given a character, and told to work out a part where they HAD to sing i.e. where we could say "In a musical, THIS is where the song has to be." I'm not explaining it very well because my BRANE is still full!

On Saturday I met with my writing partner Suzann in the morning and we WORKED on the song. By HECK but we WORKED on it, for THREE HOURS, talking EVERYTHING over, working through WORD by WORD, until we had something we were pretty pleased with. We then presented it to everyone else, as well as some people from the theatre (including Philip Hedley who was BRILLIANT) who then gave us feedback. Next day we were back in AGANE for ANOTHER three hours working on the song. This was, i reckon, the BEST bit. Usually when I write a song it gets tweaked a bit at gigs and so on, but I'd pretty much never go back and do a full RE-WRITE on every word, line, piece of tune etc etc. It was also GRATE working with someone who could actually SING, who went through every line of vocal melody making each one a) unique b) suit what the words were saying. When we took it back THAT afternoon it was approx 100 times better, with something approaching a proper arrangement too, and with all sorts of parts that I'd never have even THOUGHT to have put in myself, and wouldn't have been able to sing even if i could.

So yes, it was fantastic and will DOUBTLESS inform my FUTURE WORK e.g. me and Steve's next show. We then got bought a BEER and sat downstairs for a bit having an Actual Chat, as opposed to DISCUSSION of THEORY, which was lovely. They're doing a fortnight long version of the workshop later in the summer, and OBVS i would love to do it, but even if I don't I've learnt several TONNES of new stuff over this weekend. It's going to take a while for my BRANE to file it all!

posted 23/6/2014 by MJ Hibbett

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