The Importance of Field Work in Writing Musicals

cgcrop8I have always wondered whether field research in a writing a new musical was ultimately warranted?  I know the great American musical theatre songwriter, Stephen Schwartz, swears by the benefits of doing so – and it certainly seems to have worked for the great man himself.

Therefore, it should come as no little surprise I have decided that, at least for this project, a research trip to areas of Ireland is a necessity. So I am heading off to do just that in the middle of June after I have fulfilled my requisite obligations in the UK for this year.

The imperative for this trip comes from finishing reading two quite disparate approaches to the societal history of Ireland.  The two books in question are ‘In Search of Ireland’ (1930) by H. V. Morton, and the far better known ‘Ireland – A Novel’ (2004) by that truly marvellous storyteller – Frank Delaney.

Undoubtedly new musicals, based on existing novels – or for that matter any new creative work – can be created without recourse to immersing oneself in-situ into histories and ethnographies of a cultural race and its geographies.  For example, one doesn’t need to visit the Antarctic in order to get a feel for eviscertaing cold to write a stage adaptation of Scott’s fateful expedition!  Nonetheless, there is something about the language, the music, the humour; to say nothing of the political and social undercurrents of this never-quite-understood country, which invites a search for the elusive and the ineffable – which is ‘Ireland’.

More soon, take care,

Kevin

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