Workshop (Day 174/365)

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 anticipatory.

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!

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