We know that these last few days have been tough on everyone in our community. We're all pitching in to do our part to socially distance and flatten the curve of COVID-19.
As part of that effort, we're indefinitely postponing our most recent work-in-progress, The Yellow Wallpaper, which was set to debut at Theatre Unbound's Girl Shorts Festival this coming weekend. Theatre Unbound will be working with festival ticket holders to issue refunds.
However, we know that art and creativity is essential, and the work continues... even if it looks a little different!
We took a moment to gather on the interwebs (!!) to hear new songs, and chat with Emily and Leslie about their process. We've had such a wonderful time digging into the story, and we look forward to sharing more with you very soon!
Lights up on a stage cut in half. On one side, a woman sits huddled on the floor, scrawling into a notebook. On the other, a woman sits with her guitar. Both wear long white nightgowns. Lights are dim.
Can you tell us about your process creating The Yellow Wallpaper?
Leslie Vincent: I had written some songs [for the October 2019 house concert], so I knew I had kind of an idea. And then Emily and I talked. We made a skeleton of the story, and assigned each other parts. So I was like, I want to start it; Emily wanted to finish it. Then we just we met every Friday for a couple hours.
Emily Dussault: I feel like we have a system now since we've done this for a few different projects where we want to create new content, and we try to each take the lead on one (or more) songs, so we have something to bring. And then we kind of help each other shape. A lot of times we come and we say, "Okay, I have most of it, but I'm really struggling with this part" or "I have a lot of it, but I don't know if I like the words." That kind of thing. Then we'll talk through it together.
Leslie: We had homework assignments and we would send each other stuff, but we mostly just met every Friday to practice, and that's how we -- we just make stuff like harmonies together on repeat.
Emily: With the song I wrote, I was being really fussy about it. I brought it mostly done to her, but I was like, "Okay, I need better lyrics for this part. And I need these parts to rhyme," and I just was really, really stuck. We spent a lot of time on it, and it was mostly me shooting down all of the ideas that Leslie had, and Leslie was was like, "does it have to rhyme?" The next day, I sat down with it for an hour, and I completely had a breakthrough and finished it. It was mostly me just listening to her be like, "I don't think you need to worry about that."
Three months ago I was trapped inside my head
What new discoveries have you made?
Emily: I really liked the idea that we've come up with regarding not defining who is the actual woman and who is the woman in the wallpaper. We were like, "What if each of us are both of them, and what if they're both just as real as the other?" which I think is such a cool way to tell the story on stage.
My thoughts spill out and I can’t hold them all
Emily: I re-read the story, and first of all... it's so good. And then I wrote down all of lines that referenced the "woman in the wallpaper," and I started just using those words. Most of the song is actually directly taken -- not, you know, word for word, but all of the big, visual words -- from the story when she's talking about seeing the woman. I liked having that that sort of restriction. I think helped me make it more specific.
Have you found any other inspirations throughout the process?
Leslie: Yeah, you know The Hazards of Love [by the Decemberists]? It's a concept album with a story. So I listened to that a lot; I wanted to do something like that. My dream is one day to have a band do these songs.
Emily: It feels like a folk opera almost.
Leslie: Yeah, that's a good way to describe it.
Emily: And there are just certain chords and sounds that they use. I thought about that a lot when I was trying to find new chords to play on the uke.
What are you excited to explore in the future?
Leslie: Well, we never really got to physicalize it.
Emily: I don't think it would have needed much. I mean, I like the idea of this being a song cycle or a concert performance as opposed to a fully staged play. We've talked about it being, like, alternate universes where every everything looks similar except for some details are off.
Leslie: The way that we had talked about staging was basically everything we do is a mirror of each other. So, if we hear the door knock, we both look the opposite way. And everything is the same, but not the same, you know?
Emily: Yeah, something really simple and like a concert, but with those visual elements. Yeah.
What kind of person would design
Emily: I think what we've come up with is really cool. As usual, collaborating with Leslie has been really fun. And, I was just thinking about how when we first started on this, we were like, "We need someone else. We need a man to play the man part, and someone who can play other instruments to help us out." And it didn't work out finding someone, so we thought, I guess it'll just be the two of us. Now I'm like, "Why didn't we just plan on doing it this way from the start?"