Now that Care Enough has had its first read through, we’ve been busy casting Night of New Works for July. Company member Candace Bilyk gives us a taste of what she’s been up to in California.
“How’s it coming along?” is perhaps the most dreaded question a composer can face. Or, at least, that’s how it seems to me. I think the reason behind this is that sharing unfinished music can be a really dangerous prospect: you have to trust in the other person’s ability to imagine what you’re imagining (which, really, is a ridiculous idea), and you have to trust in their trust in you to do a good job at finishing whatever it is you’re showing off. That’s an awful lot of trust for the kind of person who stereotypically sits in a little room working alone all day.
When there’s too much fear for trust, the stock answer tends to be, “it’s not ready yet!” Thankfully, that isn’t really what happens with a Savage Umbrella show, where we’re all sticking our spoons and spices in a pot of soup at weird times. It can be a little scary, but it’s also wonderfully freeing. When everybody expects a work in progress and comes to the table wanting to help it move forward, telling people how things are going and getting their input is much less scary and much more exciting.
Answering the question for people outside of our warm little kitchen can still be a little tricky - they often expect some progress point in a magically linear process. Showing part of an opera before you’ve really even finished the whole story is admittedly a bit like putting the cart before the horse, but I prefer to think of it like making that pot of soup in a way. It doesn’t always matter what order you throw things in the water, as long as it’s all there in the end. (Admittedly, I am a kindof terrible cook, but stay with me here, okay?)
So what have we been up to? Here’s a sip of what’s already simmering:
In December, Amber, Laura, and I spent some time making common head space for visuals (which really helps with that whole “imagining what other people are imagining” thing) by wandering through the plethora of antique shops in Stillwater, pointing at things we liked or didn’t like, and of course getting distracted by fortune telling machines.
Is the mystic swami trying to tell us that no one can actually see the future?
Some things we liked were just of nautical influence, like a velvet covered book with a decorative anchor; some of fairy influence, like a painting of a woman in a swimsuit with a flowing, sheer cloth behind her reminiscent of wings. As we got deeper into the nooks and crannies of the weird maze of a building, we started getting a little more abstract. One image that still really strikes me is of a woman in a 1920s formal dress. The print itself is not really anything special, but something about the way her green dress shines and slithers makes me think both of the grandeur of magical creatures and the slippery, dangerous feeling of seaweed grabbing at your ankles.
Since then we’ve decided what scenes and arias are going to be in the July 2012 production, put together lists of various arias or musical theater pieces we’re inspired by for each (again - shared head space is a blessing), and started sketching out lyrics and melodies. Want to know what the Carp’s big song is going to be like? Well, something between the worlds of Pirates of Penzance and Beauty and the Beast.
And the puppets? Oh, the puppets. I can’t wait for you all to see the puppets. I can’t wait to see the puppets. We’ve talked about them a lot. The thing is, though, they’re not ready just yet. That’s our next big thing. But I, for one, trust Amber Davis implicitly to do something crazy amazing, and I imagine they’ll be everything I could have ever wanted.