So I was set to meet with Kari Kraakevik- composer, genius, and friend who I have agreed to write a musical with. The meeting is at Starbucks, and we're going to sit down and I'm going to tell her my basic ideas for the plot. The show is based on Rose Red and Snow White, an old Norske legend immortalized by the Brothers Grimm. We've talked a bit about the basics- two main characters are sisters who are very different. There's a cranky Imp, and a bear who comes in from the cold. We want to make it all about Rose and being different, being something other than what your parents want you to be- in her case, being wild and needing to go out into the world and find whatever she finds. We've talked about making the bear a wolf- a Wolf Prince, and giving him an older brother- a Wolf King. Now we need a basic structure, with places for songs and over 20 characters.

And go!

Okay- let's start by giving the Imp a back story. Why is he so mean? How about: once, the Imp was your run of the mill human, but got turned into the Imp by an evil wizard? Yeah, and not just any normal human, but the father of Rose and Snow. Now that sounds good. Explains the absent father, creates all sorts of possibilities down the road. So, what happened? Long ago, while looking for food, he followed a deer deep into the mountains. Now in those very same mountains lived a very powerful wizard- no, a witch- no, an enchantress who used her power for good. Yeah, I like that. And this enchantress' heart was a huge ruby which she kept safe in those mountains. And the man- let's call him the Hunter, comes upon the ruby, and not knowing any better, breaks it into little pieces in the hopes of selling them. Which is a bad idea, as the enchantress is now upset about her heart being broken, and is now without a heart, and therefore incapable of mercy. She zaps the hunter, turns him into the Imp, and is now all messed up, evil, bad- now she's a bad witch. And she needs a name. I take Endorra for the Witch of Endor from the Bible, and Belle from the Bell Witch legend, and now she has a name: Endorra Belle.

So that will all be in a prelude, sort of like in Disney's Beauty and the Beast- a quick set up leading us to Rose Red and Snow White living with their mom. The village has been living in fear ever since Endorra went bad. And we'll have a song introducing most of the characters. In the first draft of the plot, this takes place in the forest, and I make a note to create some forest creatures as characters. The song will have to be about the differences between Rose and Snow- wild vs. domestic, yin and yang and all that. And we'll call it "Red and White".

Okay, next we can have Rose and Snow go into the woods picking berries- always trouble. They meet the Imp like in the fairy tale, help him out of a jam, and he's a jerk. After he leaves, the sisters can sing a duet about domesticity vs. freedom. Excellent. Next, back home, they can meet the Wolf Prince. And to fill out the cast, let's give the Wolf Prince a side-kick. A black sheep called Night, who can turn out to be a bad guy/spy. Later on, after the first read through, I will change the Wolf Prince's name to the Timberwolf because it's a little confusing having a Wolf Prince and a Wolf King. On top of that, there was a DC superhero named Timberwolf who was a member of  the Legion of Superheroes.

I like to put weird, obscure references in my work. Sometimes they're cultural, sometimes they're historical, sometimes they're personal. I figure, if it doesn't hamper the story, makes sense on its own, and will make those who get it feel extra smart, why not? If nothing else, it keeps me amused, and invested in the story- and often, what starts as a goofy allusion to some book I read leads to a great moment.

So Timberwolf shows up, and turns out to be a lost prince, trapped in another form. This is good- see, everyone wants Rose to be something she's not. And in the story, there are other characters who have been forced to be things they are not. And none of them are better for it. That's a theme, or something.

And if there's a missing prince, then there have to be people looking for him. Knights. And I sense a chance for some comic relief. What is the knights are sort of goofy? Yes. It's all coming together. And here's the weird thing. There's this point for me when I'm making up a story where it all clicks, and I can't really explain it, but somehow, I no longer really have to think all that much about what should happen. I just sort of see it in my mind. The characters, the scenery, the whole thing- and it's like I'm just writing down what I see in my head. There might be a little snag here and there, a moment I need to tweak- but that's all mechanics. Sometimes, scenes I see end up getting cut from the show. Doesn't mean they aren't part of the whole story, they're just a part we don't need to see on stage. Once I hit that point, writing the play becomes nothing more or less than the story showing itself to me.

At least, that's how it feels. More on all that next time. By the way, the amazing costume sketches you see are the work of Sherry McClure, who is designing sets and costumes for our production at Actors Academy of the Performing Arts. Tickets are now on sale for our December 14, 15, and 16 performances in Boulder. Go here to buy some.

Also, my short play Lovers, Lunatics, and Poets will be available very soon from Playscripts, inc. Go here for more info.

And last but not least, two things on Burning the Old Man. If you are in the city of Pardubice in the Czech Republic, go see it performed in Czech under the title Putovani S Urnou at Divadlo Exil. And, I just got the Portuguese translation, As Cinzas do Velho, for a production going up in Sao Paolo in March. If you are in that part of the world, I hope you can see it. Of course, if you'd like to read an English version of the play, you can always buy your very own copy at the fantastic web site Indie Theater Now. Go here for more info.

That's all for today- now go out there and get your theatre on!


Wil Whimsey said…
I found myself ordering a copy of The Wolf King after your last post! I look forward to checking it out. Thanks for sharing your process! Sounds like a lot of fun.
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wil aka Paul! Outstanding! Let me know how it stands up to the test of time!

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