10 Minute Musicals / Open Space, in the first week of July and is run by Leeway Productions, a new company set up by director at The Other Room, Cardiff, will be the sharing of work and discussions about the art form. It will provide a supportive “safe space” for artists to explore and development their own practice.
What a question? I don’t know. Who does? I guess this is what we are aiming to unravel during our week of exploration. There are some fundamentals of course. Songs that drive narrative. Songs that are born from action and wants. Songs that reveal really really really boring expositional stuff in a fun and undeniably cleverly and hidden way. Songs you can hum when leaving the auditorium. Music that propels us forward and is anchored by the needs of the characters. Theme, Plot. Story structure. Characters. Setting. Tone. A musical motif that weaves its way through the action subliminally. So many rules to learn, so that we can then basically smash them out of the park.
I honestly don’t feel I can answer the question. What I do know is that the outcome of a musical depends on the team that is fuelling it. Only as a collective can we honestly answer this question. Assembling the right team to help a writer discover their ideas true meaning cannot be underestimated. Isn’t a fulfilling life about relationships? There is an ongoing Harvard study on it. Life is that simple. Any true engagement begins and ends with a sincere relationship, between the artists, between the artists and production team, between artists and critics, between artists and audiences, between the performers and their given circumstances.
So many musicals these days entice the audience back again and again. Usually because they have had a meaningful and emotional experience, which is more often than not directly linked to the protagonist (the main character). This is great and valid. Personally, I am up for feeling uncomfortable, awkward and highly embarrassed when watching a production. I want my boundaries tested, my moral judgments provoked and a reason to question all that I think I believe or all I think that I want to believe. That, for me at least, will be the hall-mark of a good Welsh Musical.
Judging quality is nigh on impossible. When we are familiar with something, we find it beautiful or good. When we do not the judgments set in. So what I will be looking at more so than quality, or making something ‘good’, is ascertaining the musicals role and that begins with the artists in the room, the team we have assembled.
Imagine a musical without any set at all. No lights. No costumes. Just you, the audience, them, the performers and musicians, and it, the story and music. Nothing to get in the way of your emotional connection to the performers on stage and to draw you into the sounds of that World in which they exist. Perfect formula for a good Wales musical.
Image: Geraint Todd Photography