One of the most difficult aspects of making new plays is the division of labor within the ensemble. Starting from nebulous ideas of characters, text, themes and sets can make it a challenge early on to determine who works on what and when. When Queens Director Theo Langason and I sat down in my living room to talk about music for our show, we scratched our heads a bit. As a company, we do all our sound and music live. We’ve been doing that for ten years. We’re fortunate to have an artist like Tim Donahue in Sandbox who creates soundscapes and scores as a part of the creation ensemble, so the music is as integral and natural for each show as can be. But what do we do when Tim isn’t available, or, more so in the case of Queens, not right for this play?
To build music from scratch with a play being built from scratch requires patience and time. Loads of it. So we needed to find a musician – a songwriter – who could rehearse with us from day one, have the patience to collaborate, embrace the unknown and have the artistic malleability to hold on tightly and let go lightly. It was a tall order. I had someone in mind, all I had to do was convince Theo this person was right for the job. It went something like this:
Theo: I know some people, they’d be hard to get.
Me: Well…you play the guitar and you can sing. And you’ll be there in the room creating from day one…
I’m not gonna lie, I’m selfish about our group. Greedy even. I’ll grab on to any chance to make something with one of my friends. But now we get back to the division of labor thing — Theo is already directing this play. So we’re all going to have to share the load. It’s not the first time for us, won’t be the last. After a few weeks, he started to warm up to the idea. He sent me this:
“I was sitting in my living room, thinking about Queens; and all at once, like a punch in the gut, this song came rushing out of me. I’m really looking forward to making this show!”
You and me both, my friend.