Friday, July 25, 2008

Music for the Muses

It may come as no surprise to Miri, but I love musicals. To date, I've been in 8 musicals, including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which is more of a rock opera than a musical anyway. I grew up in musical in theater. I eat, sleep and breathe musical theater. But what do musicals have to do with writing?

I went to see Mamma Mia with some friends last week, and it got me to thinking. There seems to be a recent trend to turning musicals into movies (think Sweeny Todd), and making musicals out of the body of work of a single band. Mamma Mia is all music from ABBA, Leader of the Pack is a musical about songwriter Ellie Greenwich told through her songs, and Across the Universe is a musical-movie with all Beatles songs.

So I'm going to try something and post the results here on the blog for the world to judge. I'm going to write a synopsis of a (nonexistent) play with the music of one of my favorite bands, Matchbox 20. Y'all are welcome to try it as well if you have an hour or two to spare.

I'm going with basic "boy meets girl" plot, because an inordinate number of Matchbox 20 songs are about breaking up with someone.

Our main character (henceforth known as John) is a college student and black civil rights activist in the 60's. In the first scene, John, his friend Robert, and a group of fellow activists sing "Black and White People."

While participating in a sit-in in Ohio, he meets Sylvia, a white waitress at the diner and they promptly fall in love in the song (a duet) "Real World."

In the next scene, Sylvia's father, the town sheriff, is revealed to be a bigot in the song "Push." (Stereotypical, I know. There goes my Pulitzer.)

John and Robert make plans to attend the March on Washington. Sylvia worries for John's safety and tries to dissuade him from leaving in the song "Can't Let You Go."

In the next scene, John is torn between supporting the civil rights movement and Sylvia in the song "Argue," but decides to go.

Sylvia talks to her friend Renee about her concerns the day before John and Robert plan to leave. Renee tells Sylvia's ex-boyfriend, Peter. Peter speaks of his remaining affection for Sylvia in "Crutch."

The next day, Peter calls the police while John and Robert are sitting at the diner. Sylvia's father arrests them. John mistakenly believes Sylvia framed them. Peter sings a verse from "Busted" and John sings a verse from "Last Beautiful Girl" as he's being led away. The two go back and forth until each song is finished.


John and Robert lament their position in "Shame." Robert tries to cheer John up with a refrain of "Black and White People", but John is inconsolable.

Sylvia sings "If You're Gone" to herself. Renee overhears and apologizes for Peter's actions. She agrees to help Sylvia sneak into the jail to visit John.

They sneak into the jail. After explaining that Peter called the police, not her, she and John sing a duet of "Hand Me Down." The sheriff stumbles in on the last refrain. He is so moved by the depth of his daughter's love that he frees John and Robert and agrees to drive all four of them to Washington.

The whole cast sings "How Far We've Come" in the March on Washington.

The director has the choice of using "Mad Season" or "I Believe You When" for the curtain call music.

Obviously, there are a couple of problems with this little tale. For one, interracial relationships were a very touchy subject in 1963 and if the sheriff was a real bigot, letting his daughter's black boyfriend out of the slammer would be a bit unlikely. But, hey, it's an exercise, not an outline.

I recommend using only two or three albums of your band or artist of choice. I can't imagine how the writers of Across the Universe sorted through all of the Beatles's songs and strung them together into something resembling a plot.

Also, try to pick a band that writes about a wide variety of topics. I had all kinds of trouble with the first act because Matchbox 20 has no songs about falling in love. "Real World" has nothing to do with falling in love, but it was the closest I could get. :P

So, dear readers, astound us with your literary brilliance! I'm really interested to see what y'all come up with. (And how does listening to music effect your writing? Do you use it as ambient noise, or do you use it for inspiration when you're feeling stuck?)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Not Writing

I'm trying to solidify my thoughts before starting on my second draft of my NaNo from this past year, so let's take a look at what I'm doing when I'm not writing, because I've been doing a lot of it lately.

Since Dragon*Con 2007, I've been an avid cosplayer. Cosplay is simply dressing up and acting like a favorite character, usually at a convention, though I would randomly announce "informal cosplay" days at school where we'd dress it a character's signature colors and have a go at their hairstyle. Maybe as a procastination technique for writing, most of my free time the past week or so has been dedicated to my first serious costume in several months, a variation on Belle from Beauty and the Beast and, more to the point, the gorgeous Disney-Square Enix video game Kingdom Hearts II.

The variation I'm doing is an original design and I'm pretty sure it hasn't been done before (I call it the "What if?" that went insane), but basically it's a cross between this:

And this:

Interesting, yes? Yes.

I've made a lot of progress on it, but it's not to the point where it's wearable (or recognizable as clothing). See:

There's almost two yards of fabric in twelve pieces in each of those large, funny-looking shapes.

And here's a little detail I'm adding to the inside of the jacket once it's hemmed:

It's kind of the logo for Organization XIII, the people who typically wear the black coats seen above. That piece of pretty white fabric, smaller than a piece of computer paper, has four feet of edges that need hemming. Four. Feet.

But it'll so be worth it during the costume contest judging at AWA.

Yes, I'm a dork. In so many ways. And yes, that is a stripey beach towel. I use it on my ping pong table when the ironing board's too small.