I was stacking up some old New York Times recently, planning to send them to the recycle bin and one reached out and grabbed me. I noticed a story from November 27, “Switched at Rebirth.”
It’s an account of the re-imagining of the Sixties musical “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.” The director and playwright who are working on it call it more than a revival. And the article states that: “…the original script, characterizations, sets and choreography have been scrapped as reference points.” So it seems like what is left is the music and lyrics…maybe… I’m not sure.
But what struck me was the notion of keeping a set of songs and inventing a whole new kind of story to go with them. And I wondered if that might be the beginning of a fun exercise for writers–take characters we’re familiar with, our own or from history or folktales and give them a different setting, different motivation, but keep one part. Keep the magic goose that lays the golden eggs but make the giant a nice guy, beset by this kid who keeps dropping by.
I’m putting it on my list for some day when I have time just to mess around.
Jackie, I remember your talk at a residency about using folk and fairy tales as the basis for new stories in new settings. Marvelous idea and still is. Anne Ursu credits your lecture for the inspiration for Breadcrumbs.
This is similar, isn't it? But there's something about the fixed pole of the music and building a different story around it that made me want to think how that would work with what we do.