Saturday 23 February 2019

Possible Breakthrough

Anyone who has read this far knows that "story" is what we, as audience, seek from a musical theatre piece. I know it's true but have resisted or, as I prefer to imagine it, have tried to adjust the concept of story until it includes what Oak Floors! is doing. (Or would, were it ever produced.) 
The story belongs to a group of people and the building that houses them. We might observe that with both, the adversary is time passing. We might claim love in a time of loneliness.
But that might not be story enough. So as soon as I finish this entry--and head over the gym to watch Scotties curling on TSN--I'm going try giving it all to Patty, a university student on the delayed-degree plan, who after all (or before all) was the image that got me going on the musical in the first place--Patty locked out and buzzing names to buzz her in and chatting for two seconds with five or six other tenants until the door just opens, a slow click, and Patty walks in.
What I mean is, maybe loneliness, if that's what it is, will resonate more widely if expressed through a single character rather than scattered like dust over everything in the play. 

Monday 4 February 2019


Musicals rhyme. As you know, dear Reader, I've been packing a rhyming dictionary for two years working on Oak Floors! 
When it works, rhyme is beautiful, not to mention necessary for audience satisfaction. As when Eliza sings

I only know when he
began to dance with me
I could have danced, danced, danced all night. 

in My Fair Lady, or when Adelaide laments both her cold and her reluctant boyfriend in Guys and Dolls:

You can spray her wherever you figure
The streptococci lurk
You can give her a shot
For whatever she's got
But it just won't work
If she's tired of getting the fish-eye
From the hotel clerk
A person
Can develop a cold

Let's add this playful but cannibalistic exchange between Sweeney Tood and Mrs. Lovett (best heard and seen, as here in a West End revival):

TODD: What is that?
It's priest. Have a little priest.
Is it really good? 
Sir, it's too good, at least! 
Then again, they don't commit sins of the flesh, 
So it's pretty fresh.
Awful lot of fat.
Only where it sat.
Haven't you got poet, or something like that? 
No, y'see, the trouble with poet is
'Ow do you know it's deceased? 
Try the priest!
But for budding poets, like the 14 in my Creative Writing class, my advice is to avoid it. If there's anything to the equation I've been pitching--material (one's store of stories, experiences, desires, fears, etc.) + craft = art--the problem with rhyme is that it's a craft issue that diverts beginning writers from going for the heart(s) of their material. For these writers, rhyme is one of those things--like "poetic language," beginning lines with caps, elevated imagery--more to be cleared away than encouraged. 
I suppose that sounds pedantic. It is!