Making Musical Theatre for The Gaiety Lockdown Channel
When The Gaiety decided to move their community work online during the UK lockdown we jumped at the chance to bring some Musical Theatre writing workshops to the community of Ayrshire.
We were asked to deliver two one hour long workshops. We wanted to show how accessible the writing of musical theatre can be, to share how you find the story, create the structure and write a song that would work in a real musical using the words of our participants to create it. We took what would usually take weeks and figured out how to break it down into an hour long session - Oh did we mention we also had to deliver it via zoom. It was a challenge!
Our first workshop was very exciting! We had a great group who gave us the most incredible stories. We started by asking the participants to use items in their own home for inspiration, we then created a story and characters from their ideas. Our musical ended up being based on 3 items, a camper-van ornament, a piece of wood with a camper-van painted on it and a signed Jimmy Hendrix record - you really can make a musical out of anything!
Our musical synopsis:
Dave and Joan, an older man and woman, meet at an auction where magical time-travelling camper-vans are being sold. They have worked their whole lives and never had the chance to do or see what they would like and regret never striking out to change that. The duo bond over their dreams of owning a magical camper-van and imagine what they would do if they could go anywhere in the world and to any time. The show would follow the duo as they travel the world and finally fulfil all of their dreams.
Next we talked about story structure and the kinds of songs you usually find in a musical. We offered them a choice of three:
The 'Opening Number'
Where we set the scene of the story and establish the status quo.
The 'I Want Song'
The lead character shares what they most want and how they will get it.
The 'Darkest Hour'
A turning point for the lead character where they must overcome their biggest challenge.
They chose an 'I Want' song where Dave and Joan imagine what they would do if they had the freedom to go anywhere in the world with no limits to the when’s and how’s.
We completed a number of writing exercises and fervently scrawled down every line they gave us. Then we went away and and used their story, characters and words to create the final song 'Wings of Wheels'.
One of our main aims was to show that writing musical theatre was for everyone and judging by the response of the participants that aim was achieved. Our own secret aim was to make sure we had at least one line or idea from each participant so that when they heard it back they could say "I wrote that!". We were lucky enough to not just have a line from each writer but whole chunks of text to adapt to the music.
So it turns out you can write a song in an hour using zoom! Who knew?!
Check it out: