Published on July 18th, 2013 | by Miranda0
This past October, an incredible team of 4 performers (including myself), three musicians (including Jeff) and a developmental director came together to explore the show through music, physicality, dialogue and rhyming verse. The alchemy among this group of artist was something incredibly special and the growth of the show through this short workshop was profound. I feel now, more than ever, the potential of this piece for greatness and am inspired to continue to develop it on a once/week basis with this team over the next seven months, with a goal of having a finished script — clear in story, complex in character, and riveting in music and dance by the end of July.
The musical trio was pulled together by Jeff. Both the bassist and drummer were musicians he had worked with on the jazz scene years ago, before he got involved with all things Grateful Dead. They are top notch players and great guys. The drummer, Deszon, especially was exactly the right vibe for the show. Through the use of non traditional percussive toys and trinkets, in addition to the drum kit, he created a theatrical atmosphere that became a storytelling mechanism all its own.
I brought on board a young and very talented director, Allison Combs, the protege of celebrated San Francisco director, Mark Jackson. Our collaboration as creator and director — which can be a challenging one — was immediately natural, productive and joyful! Allison is well-versed in a dance/directorial approach founded by Anne Bogart, called Viewpoints. Viewpoints allowed us to develop physical leitmotifs or character themes to align with the musical leitmotifs that have always been the basis of this jazz-opera.
In addition to me, there were three other performers. All incredible vocalists, good movers, open collaborators and brilliant theatrical minds. They were able to sing the hard music that is The Precipice, to develop wonderful physicality, and to get down and dirty with dramaturgical discussions that helped me to make major changes to the script — adding a great amount of depth to the characters and clarity to the story.
Everybody had such a positive experience and felt so nourished by the collaboration, that the idea of continuing collaboration was on everyone’s minds. And so, I proposed the idea of forming a ‘Temporary Developmental Company’ to work together on a once a week basis over the next seven months, as I get The Precipice script to a final version that will be clear in story, complex in character and powerful in both music and physicality. Everyone is excited about the idea and has offered to work for incredibly minimal pay. When Jeff is not on tour he will be there to improvise with us and work music. At the end of July we will have a private staged and sung performance of The Precipice in its entirety; something that has not happened since the very first version of the show back in 2011!
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