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Playwright/lyricist wanted for UNIQUE musical theatre project  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Sat Aug 4th, 2012 02:05 pm
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MelodyMan
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Mana: 
Experienced and versatile European composer, looking for playwright/lyricist.

I want to write a piece that will redefine musical theatre as we know it! Full length or one-act musical, a song cycle, or perhaps some other format. I want this to be strange, off-kilter and unlike anything else. Expressive, dark, abstract, funny, suggestive, cynical, raw, sophisticated, surreal, romantic, and partly incomprehensible... This will probably not be a show for everyone, but surely one you would never forget!

I have no idea what it could be about - that's where you would come in. If you have a story, an idea, a complete book, or just some random poetry, I'm open for any suggestions and material!

Musically, my vision could be described as a mixture of Kurt Weill, Frank Zappa, Stephen Sondheim, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Tom Waits, Béla Bartók, Laurie Anderson, Charles Ives, and Thelonious Monk.

So, shall we dance?

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 Posted: Mon Aug 6th, 2012 07:29 pm
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danceswithtigers
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Mana: 
Intriguing. Ambitious, perhaps overly so: "redefine musical theatre as we know it?" Ahem. Okay, maybe. Perhaps you should flesh out your resume a little, so people will know what your depth of experience is.

"Partly incomprehensible" raises a flag. It's far too easy to be absurd or incomprehensible; I've seen it on the stage occasionally. Tolerable in Act I, annoying by Act II, schrecklich by Act III. When the audience leaves the theatre, they should not feel that they have been led down the garden path and left there. Any remaining mysteries should motivate a second viewing, not serve as a  reminder of the frustration the authors have subjected us to.

I'm thinking Kafka and Cortazar, with a heavy dose of Borges' irreal. The audience believes they're on familiar ground before spiralling into stranger and stranger territory, with its own rules.

The writer will require discipline to create this orderly chaos and still retain the audience. There must be a protagonist that the audience can identify with. An arc of transition, but no shape-shifting! Surprises, but no unmotivated or disconnected deviations from sanity. That will make the other characters' anomalous behaviour stand out.

The set designer & costumer will be challenged. I'd assume a substantial budget in both those areas, unless they are very clever, or the work is performed mostly in the nude. You'll need puppeteers, too, most likely. Have you seen Blue Man Group? Cabinet of Dr. Caligari?

Good luck with the project.

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 Posted: Mon Aug 6th, 2012 09:59 pm
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MelodyMan
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Mana: 
Thanks for your input, danceswithtigers!

At this point, I'm not gonna comment too much on the dramaturgical aspects, since it's not my field of expertise (and that is, of course, why I'm looking for collaborators). Whatever you say is probably right.

But I guess I can expand a little bit more on this, from a musical standpoint:

I work as a university music teacher, freelance musician/composer/arranger, rehearsal pianist, and more. I wrote my first musical in 2010, and I'm currently working on my 2nd one, to be premiered late 2013. These are both quite traditional, "mainstream" shows, since that's what the commissioners have wanted.

When looking at musicals from the last 50 years or so, I have made the following two observations:

1. There are, in my opinion, surprisingly few musical composers who have a unique, recognizable style. Most of them (including many successful ones) seem more like musical chameleons, great at adapting to different stylistic formulas.

2. There are - once again, in my opinion- surprisingly few musicals where the score itself has a unique character, where the composer has invented music that doesn't sound like any other music. Usually, it's quite the opposite: many successful scores are almost exclusively based on existing musical styles, templates, and formulas. The romantic duet ballad, the oom-pa comedy number, the sexy slow blues, etc... You've heard them all a million times.

My vision is to write a score that is not primarily based on stylistic recognition, but rather on surprise and suspense. One where the audience will perhaps not be able to tap their foot because they recognize the beat, or instinctively feel when the 16 bars are over and it's time for the bridge of the song, etc. (Of course, there are specific compositional techniques by which this can be achieved.) More abstract, less predictable - I want the audience to perceive the music as a place they've never been before.

Of course, there is already a lot of existing music that has those qualities, including some written for the stage (modern operas, etc). But as far as I can tell, few have made such attempts within a musical theatre context. Perhaps for good reasons? I don't know, but let's find out!

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 Posted: Tue Aug 7th, 2012 08:00 pm
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EvaDestruction
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Mana: 
MelodyMan wrote: Thanks for your input, danceswithtigers!

At this point, I'm not gonna comment too much on the dramaturgical aspects, since it's not my field of expertise (and that is, of course, why I'm looking for collaborators). Whatever you say is probably right.

But I guess I can expand a little bit more on this, from a musical standpoint:

I work as a university music teacher, freelance musician/composer/arranger, rehearsal pianist, and more. I wrote my first musical in 2010, and I'm currently working on my 2nd one, to be premiered late 2013. These are both quite traditional, "mainstream" shows, since that's what the commissioners have wanted.

When looking at musicals from the last 50 years or so, I have made the following two observations:

1. There are, in my opinion, surprisingly few musical composers who have a unique, recognizable style. Most of them (including many successful ones) seem more like musical chameleons, great at adapting to different stylistic formulas.

2. There are - once again, in my opinion- surprisingly few musicals where the score itself has a unique character, where the composer has invented music that doesn't sound like any other music. Usually, it's quite the opposite: many successful scores are almost exclusively based on existing musical styles, templates, and formulas. The romantic duet ballad, the oom-pa comedy number, the sexy slow blues, etc... You've heard them all a million times.

My vision is to write a score that is not primarily based on stylistic recognition, but rather on surprise and suspense. One where the audience will perhaps not be able to tap their foot because they recognize the beat, or instinctively feel when the 16 bars are over and it's time for the bridge of the song, etc. (Of course, there are specific compositional techniques by which this can be achieved.) More abstract, less predictable - I want the audience to perceive the music as a place they've never been before.

Of course, there is already a lot of existing music that has those qualities, including some written for the stage (modern operas, etc). But as far as I can tell, few have made such attempts within a musical theatre context. Perhaps for good reasons? I don't know, but let's find out!
I am a lyricist and would be more than willing to do what I can to help you in your endeavor to create a new type of musical theatre. From what you are saying my first question would be how dark do you want it? I tend to write very dark lyrics, I also compose but not for Musical Theatre, more for bands & other performers.
Let me know via PM is you are interested in my help.

Regards,
Eva

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 Posted: Thu Aug 9th, 2012 08:00 am
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danceswithtigers
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Mana: 
There is a definite gap to fill, as you state. You're no doubt familiar with:

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=%22everybody+wants+to+be+sondheim%22&view=detail&mid=1698963C5B6373CF0A1C1698963C5B6373CF0A1C&first=0

So, yes: "1. There are...surprisingly few musical composers who have a unique, recognizable style."

And "2. There are...surprisingly few musicals where the score itself has a unique character, where the composer has invented music that doesn't sound like any other music." also seems true, in my own very limited experience.

I suspect most dramatic situations are approached as cliche: "The hero is sad about something-or-other here, so we'll have him come center stage, gaze myopically into the last row, and sing a clone of "X's Lament" from last year's The XYZ Story. Dynamite. Okay, that's done"

There are, to continue this example, only so many ways to construct laments. One could try very hard to write the anti-lament, something totally different from all that has gone before, and repeat for each situation in the playbook. The result might be parody--possibly successful, but not what you're aiming at here. Or the result might be something deliberately unlike everything done before, but dull and uninteresting.

I guess what I'm driving at is there's no methodical way to create something new by starting from the bad, formulaic songs of the past. Maybe there is a science of novelty--a way to ensure that each number is fresh and unexpected. I don't know. I suppose someone could study the creation of off-the-wall songs that sprang from ordinary situations. Hernando's Hideaway springs to mind.

The answer may lie in playbooks that do not consist of dramatic cliches strung end-to-end. Perhaps this explains edgy works of recent years like "Sweeney Todd," "Joan of Arc [David Potter & Susan Stewart Potter]," "Titanic," et al.

My immediate thought was to go in the direction of visually edgy sets, costumes, and, especially, text--e.g., the world of Borges or Caligari. Edgy drama doesn't guarantee edgy songs, though, does it? Maybe it would help, though. I'm not sure. What are your thoughts?

On the other hand, maybe something more conventional could serve as a vehicle for a unique musical approach. I hadn't until now considered it in this context, but I have a 120 minute play that might serve: Midnight in the Temple of Isis (produced in Santa Barbara in 2009). I've thought of it as operatic, but my director assured me that it was not suitable for musical augmentation. Maybe we could prove her wrong. It's a bit edgy. Are you into reconstructions of Ancient Roman instruments?

What's your timing on this project? I'm in the middle of a screenplay (among other things), but could locate a bound copy of Midnight in the Temple of Isis for you in a week or two, if you're really interested.

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 Posted: Thu Aug 9th, 2012 03:21 pm
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MelodyMan
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I don't know what would work best, really... Would "strange" music only be justified by an equally strange story? Or would they rather enhance each other, if the script is more accessible instead? Perhaps it's hard to be categorical about it, I don't know.

Personally - as in what kind of show I would like to see myself - I think I would also prefer something that's more loosely connected. Different semi-related scenes, maybe centered around a theme, overlapping events, chronological jumps, etc. Something where you, as an audience, would have to make your own connections and "fill in the blanks" a little bit - rather than a conventional, narrative story.

For practical reasons, I'm thinking it might be wise to aim for a one-act show that's not too expensive (in terms of cast and orchestra size, scenography, costumes, etc).

Currently I'm working on some other projects, so I probably wouldn't start with this until, say, the beginning of next year. I'm thinking I would compose the music, and if it turns out well then record it, so there would be a demo album of the whole thing. Then, if that turns out well, start sending the demo/script around and try to find someone who wants to produce it.

Sure, send me anything that you think might be of interest! I'll PM my address.

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 Posted: Thu Aug 9th, 2012 07:34 pm
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danceswithtigers
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Mana: 
Answers intertwined below:

I don't know what would work best, really...

Yes, there are a lot of unknowns. Let's explore the artistic possibilities and see what resonates. 

Would "strange" music only be justified by an equally strange story?

Midnight in the Temple of Isis is not extremely strange, except for one dark scene, but I felt that the use of extrapolated period music helped, so I think the answer is that strangeness of text and music can be independent. 

Or would they rather enhance each other, if the script is more accessible instead?

Quite possibly, yes.

Perhaps it's hard to be categorical about it, I don't know.

Nor do I. It's a delightful mystery, at this point.

Personally - as in what kind of show I would like to see myself - I think I would also prefer something that's more loosely connected. Different semi-related scenes, maybe centered around a theme, overlapping events, chronological jumps, etc. Something where you, as an audience, would have to make your own connections and "fill in the blanks" a little bit - rather than a conventional, narrative story.


Follow your artistic instincts. With care, a little disorientation can  be workable. If the audience relates to a main character, they'll remain with the flow of events and not get too lost. Alan Ayckbourn writes excellent stageplays that play games with time and space. One of his plays opens with two people sitting on a couch. It only becomes apparent after a while that this is two couches, in two different apartments. I've seen his Taking Steps and also Communicating Doors.

'Theme' may be best if discovered by serendipity, rather than planned. 

For practical reasons, I'm thinking it might be wise to aim for a one-act show that's not too expensive (in terms of cast and orchestra size, scenography, costumes, etc).

Very good idea. This can be a challenging tabula rasa experimental piece at modest cost and effort.

Currently I'm working on some other projects, so I probably wouldn't start with this until, say, the beginning of next year. I'm thinking I would compose the music, and if it turns out well then record it, so there would be a demo album of the whole thing. Then, if
that turns out well, start sending the demo/script around and try to find someone who wants to produce it.

A good plan and good timing. I should be finished with my screenplay by then and, if you wish, could assist with playbook development based on your concept.

Sure, send me anything that you think might be of interest! I'll PM my address.

Got it! Thanks. I'll send along a copy of the script in two to four weeks. I think Isis will serve as a talking point, though it's too long for what you have in mind as a first project. I'll email you a few poems so you can get an idea of the breadth of my work. I also have a 30 minute play, Call of a Distant Song, that might amuse you, though it's not on target for your initial opus. I'll email that one after you've seen the poems.

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 Posted: Thu Aug 9th, 2012 08:06 pm
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EvaDestruction
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Mana: 
I am not familiar with the reconstructions of Ancient Roman Instruments, but would be willing to do some research on the subject to see that they were done properly.
I find that there is a predominate amount of Directors that do not realize that they are there to direct what you write as you have written it. If you feel that your script lends itself to a musical as opposed to a straight stage play, that is your work & your choice. I would be more than happy to help you prove her wrong.
I would need to see the script to come up with some ideas for you as far as whether or not an edgy composition would be the way to go or possibly take it and blend the edgy script with an unexpected classical composition.
I would love to work with you on this and I am disabled so have a ton of time on my hands to try to find a new feel for your Musical production.
PM me if you would like to send me a script to look over & I will try several different approaches to it musically.
Eva

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 Posted: Tue Oct 16th, 2012 10:35 pm
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Jeccasdad
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MelodyMan,

Interesting project goals but the key to a musical is indeed the music. Music, as you know, evokes an emotional response; we are wired for that. What you're suggesting might best work by incorporating the old bait and switch approach. promising to be one thing then delivering another. Although one would need to be careful in constructing this as every once in a while you would need to break rule but NOT always or breaking the rules becomes the norm and the expected or you have nothing but noise and air declaring itself to be revolutionary but leaving the audience unfulfilled. I would think that in storyline as well you might want to center it into a base of reality since the music itself is a character fighting for its own place in the sun. There are many mythic themes here that can be blended into the scheme of things. Would I be wrong in assuming your storyline might be instead of A REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE you're shooting more for A CAUSE IN SEARCH OF A REBEL? My own works tend to be more reality based in nature but I do have one work that toys with linear dimension from a psychological point of view (RANDOM ACTS). If you're interested in looking at a sampling of my work feel free to check out my website http://www.directinghamlet.com. If you're interested in looking at talking further, let me know.

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 Posted: Fri Jan 4th, 2013 02:25 pm
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johndavid
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Hello MelodyMan

I enjoyed the description of what you are looking for : off kilter- expressive-dark abstract raw surreal etc.

I have written a play ( The Trial of Olav Oaf ) which takes place on the top floor of a tower located in the Carpathian Mountains , Moldavia. Circa 1900.

It is about domination/ cruelty / stupidity and it is ( in my opinion) somewhat surreal.

I can discuss further should you wish.

The play was finished ( 4th draft) about a year ago. I can email the play if you reply. contact details follow.

email: dj_interface@yahoo.com
Tel: 00 33 (0)2 53 68 01 06

johndavid

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 Posted: Sun Jun 23rd, 2013 04:57 am
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AnythingProse
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Are there people still dancing? Just was sort of directed to this from a friend of a friend...lyricist here with a passion for Musical theatre. Send me a hello if you want to chat about collaborating with the written word. :-)
MJ

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 Posted: Sun Jun 23rd, 2013 04:57 am
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AnythingProse
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Ooooops: anythingprose@gmail.com

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 Posted: Wed Jul 17th, 2013 12:06 am
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Whitney
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I'm wary of any project that starts with ideas for the sets and the costumes.  I'd much rather see the audience enthralled by the characters and story. 

Last edited on Wed Jul 17th, 2013 12:06 am by Whitney

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 Posted: Thu Aug 8th, 2013 06:34 pm
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sschloming
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What you describe is what I am looking for in terms of a unique, new musical style for a musical, though whether my project fits your ideas is unclear. I have written the book and lyrics for a musical based on the Emperor’s New Clothes retold for adults. It's definitely NOT a children's musical. It reinvents one of the most satiric of folk tales at an adult level. It needs a unique musical style to reflect an odd and bizarre little empire somewhere in which fashion-consciousness is above everything else. And then, of course, an unusual fashion designer comes to town. It has a tragicomic quality, as not all works out well for everyone. To see what (I would say) has been cleverly done with this classic tale, check out the website http://www.thatfoolsemperor.com for many more details: synopsis, song list, about the musical, composer needs, etc. I'm in Boston, MA. If interested, email me and I will send you the full script: skore@comcast.net.
http://www.thatfoolsemperor.com/

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 Posted: Mon Dec 16th, 2013 09:49 am
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D.T.Rolleston
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Mana: 
Hi, I'm a lyricist and librettist, experienced at writing for musicals. I'm sure I can write to your requirements. Feel free to PM me or contact me at ezlyrix@gmail.com
Thanks, David

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 Posted: Sat Aug 22nd, 2015 01:11 am
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John Gehl
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Hi. Are you still shopping? I have a piece that you might like. I certainly like the composers you mention. Send me an email please. john.gehl@comcast.net.

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 Posted: Wed Nov 25th, 2015 12:04 am
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offyougo@gmail.com
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Love to help. I'm a produced playwright and produced screenwriter. Respectfully, I'd have to know if there is pay before I could jump in and go crazy with you!
All the best,
Richard Lasser

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 Posted: Sat Dec 19th, 2015 08:51 am
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CCJON4
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I have been wanting to write a musical parody of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. I wanted to call it "CHAINSAW: A MUSICAL MASSACRE." It's like EVIL DEAD: THE MUSICAL. I think it would be a new fun out there musical with loads of laughs, jumps and toe tapping songs.

My name is Colby Jones
I am a playwright who has written a musical called "THE LAST APOCALYPTICAL MUSICAL EVER TOLD" about a trailer park family surviving the apocalypse. If you are interested in teaming up, please get back to me.

Thank you

Colby

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 Posted: Tue Dec 22nd, 2015 12:52 pm
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CCJON4
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Hello. Would you be interested in teaming up on a new project? I'm looking for a lyricist. 7069724440 if you text. I will be at work all day tomorrow and text is the best way to get a gold of me.

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