Artist in Babylon

Check this out:

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

Now look at this:

anything-helps

I’m trying to make a point here.   Between Thanksgiving Day of last year and March 4th of this year, I wrote a complete 135-page script to a new musical.   I then naturally proceeded to try and round up singers for a demo for this project, only to find that nobody wanted to work for free.  And what was I to expect?  This music is fancy progressive Broadway show tune material.  Even quick studies would have to put a lot of work into it to make it sound right.   Such talent deserves to be paid.  

So I went about trying to raise funds for this leg of the project: $1000, to be exact.  In the past three months, I have raised exactly $100 – in three donations of $5, $20, and $75 respectively.   I could have raised more than that by flying a sign on the sidewalk.  However, to fly a sign on the sidewalk (aside from being illegal where I live), would be dangerous, as I described in the poem on this post. 

Three months and ten days have past since I finished the script.  I would very much like to move forward with the next leg of this project.  It irks me that money should be my object.  So, if you are person with some wherewithal, and if you believe in my work, please consider making a contribution to this project, so that I can move forward once again.

Just one catch.  Because I am an Artist, and I’m passionate about my themes, I tend to be a little sensitive.   At least glance at the script and give half a listen to my tunes before you make a donation.   I want to receive support from people who believe my project is worth their money.   This project means something to me.  It’s about something I believe in.  It involves a message that is not often heard, if at all, in our society.  So please believe in me before you click on donate.  I don’t want to receive money from people who don’t. 

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Forward Motion

Things have actually progressed remarkably smoothly since my last update.  There has not been a moment throughout the past week when I have felt that “life” was getting in the way of my artistic progress.   To the contrary, I finished scoring all the parts for the other players tonight, and we’ve arranged a time and place to practice this Sunday for the upcoming show the following Saturday.   One more practice after that, and I think we’ll be in pretty good shape.

As I might have mentioned, I agreed to continue to accompany the Wednesday evening Taize services on a volunteer basis, while no longer being on salary at my church.  I understand that the woman who is replacing me for the next two months is very capable, and I’m looking forward to sitting in the pews on Sunday, soaking in the sermon and all aspects of the service, and no longer having to concern myself with the strange conflicts that would rear their heads whenever I tried to play piano or organ properly for the occasion.

It would seem that my background in Musical Theatre somehow interfered with my ability to grasp the worshipful context.  Although I identify as a Christian, it was unusually difficult for me to shake the idea that my playing was a “performance” rather than an “offering” or a “presentation” before God.  I would constantly refer to the chancel as the “stage,” to the prelude as an “overture,” and to the postlude as “exit music.”  I am certain that a period of observation, without mandatory participation, will help me to shed these conflicts.   It’s entirely possible that when the four months are over, and both of my replacements have served their terms, I might regain some kind of paid position with the music ministry.  But I’m neither banking on it, nor shunning the prospect.   To paraphrase John the Baptist: “God must increase, and I must decrease.”

Along with this transformation, my zeal for the production possibilities of my own musical has skyrocketed.  Of the five originals that we will be performing on Saturday the 6th, three of them will be from Eden in Babylon.   If you want to look at the lyrics I will be singing, here are the links thereof:

Heart Song

Ode to the Universe

The Very Same World

I’ve decided on four theatre companies where I have worked in the past, or where I know people with whom I’ve worked, where I will submit the musical immediately upon completing my demo.  Then I think I’ll relax and see what we can do about producing the show on a regional level here in the Palouse Empire, where I have chanced upon a community of like-minded Artists who believe in me.   I’ve been here only nine months as of yesterday, and I never cease to marvel at the miracle of it all.

I didn’t have to let an entire lifetime go by without seeing the city where I was born — where I had only lived for the first year of my life.   When I first saw this city, I saw that it seemed custom-designed for me — right to the point of their being a running shoe store conveniently placed on the lower floor of the very apartment building in which I live:

friendship square

There also turned out to be a Conservatory of Music that I didn’t even know about in this town, sponsoring an annual jazz festival.  Moreover, Idaho Repertory Theatre was founded in this city in the year I was born.  And when I went to see the house where I was born, the cross street as I approached said: “Home Street.”

Sure beats being hit on the head with guns by gangbangers and having four laptops full of costly music production software stolen in a three-year period of time! I still have the same laptop I had when I moved here — in fact, I even have a back-up, in case this one should fail me.  Once again — there is a God.

Highs and Lows

A while back, in my post The Creative Process, I wrote these words:

There is a theory, most notably espoused by Graham Wallas, that once a creator is fully committed to their creation, the creative act continues constantly, even when nothing is being considered consciously.  This process of unconscious creation is known as incubation.  Then, in conjunction with a moment of illumination, the creative process is consciously resumed.   Arguably, this is what took place during the week when it seemed that nothing was accomplished.  Suddenly, much was accomplished on a single day.   Of course, there are other theories as to why this could have come about. 

At the risk of being stigmatized or stereotyped, I’m going to open up about one such theory.  It is said that some very creative people have Bipolar Disorder; and it is also quite possible that I might be one of those people.  If so, it is possible that, for me, the stage of “incubation” corresponds to the low end of the bipolar mood swing, commonly referred to as depression.  Then, the stage of “illumination,” – and all the satisfying work that follows – may correspond to the high end of the swing, commonly referred to as mania  I’ve noticed that ever since I’ve been writing this play, I’ve been cycling back and forth between these two stages — whatever they’re to be called – and that the cycling has been occurring like clockwork.

However, when I read the symptoms of the disorder, they seemed to me to be much more extreme in general than what I was experiencing.  It may surprise you, for example, that I wasn’t so concerned about the low end of the ebb.   Sure I was depressed when my sister died.  Of course I was depressed when, three days later, we in America elected a reckless and unscrupulous, inexperienced buffoon to be our chief political officer.   I was also more than a little depressed whenever I was first trying to break through my three-year Writer’s Block, and could not get my mind off how my failure to make progress with this piece seemed inextricably linked to a failed 45 year friendship.  But as far as depression that would be experienced as part of a cyclic mood swing — no, I did not experience depression at any level nearly commensurate with the awful accounts I read about.  If anything, I felt a bit annoyed that I seemed creatively dry, and I was eager for the situation to change. 

It was what happened when the situation changed that concerned me.  True, I would have incredibly satisfying bursts of long-winded creative accomplishment, such as the day when I wrote for sixteen hours.  It’s also true that I would sometimes enter into elation, and feel that I needed neither sleep nor food, on the premise that my soul was being fed.  While excessive goal orientation and loss of interest in food or sleep are both known symptoms of a bipolar “manic episode,” I still wasn’t concerned.  What concerned me was that I became so happy that I was finally getting into my script again, after an infuriating three year Writer’s Block, I could barely sleep at night for excitement.  All I could do was lay awake in bed at night fantasizing about who was going to be playing what part on Broadway, and what my acceptance speech would look like when I picked up my Tony Award.

So I went to the clinic and saw a doctor, who had me fill out a simple questionnaire.  He wound up diagnosing me as “mildly bipolar,” and put me on a low dosage of a bipolar medication.   This turn of events seemed reasonable to me.  My level of bipolarity, so to speak, is not so huge as to cause gross disruptions in my personal, social, and professional relationships.  However, it is pronounced enough to have caused me to become concerned and seek medical attention, before the situation should worsen.

It has now been ten days since I began taking the medication.   Although at first I didn’t enjoy its effects at all, I’ve begun to notice some things that I can’t help but interpret as positive.   Let me list a few:

  1. If a problem is solved during Writers Guild meetings as a result of intelligent feedback from the other Writers, I don’t become so excited about it that I can’t focus on applying the solution.
  2. I no longer lay awake in bed all night fantasizing about future successes, but rather wind down normally, do some light reading, and drift off into sleep.
  3. I’m more relaxed in my work situation, and less anxious about missing my cues.
  4. Probably most significantly, the amount of time spent in what I’ve been calling the “incubation” or “depressed” period is significantly reduced – at no expense whatsoever to the amount of time spent in the highly productive period.  The only difference is that I am now more inclined to stop the production, get some food or rest, and continue the high level of productivity the next day.

As to point #4 above, I’m in the process of getting the first Scene of Act two prepared, which will include the musical number I call Hunted.  I wrote this in 2012, when I first conceived of this musical, as described on this page.   I’m eager to finish the lyrics, and apply its dynamics to the current incarnation of Eden in Babylon.   In the meantime, I’ve linked to a instrumental recording of it below.  It is my hope, like that of any other Artist, that you will take a few minutes to enjoy and appreciate my work.

Hunted

from Eden in Babylon
Copyright © 2012, 2o17 by Andrew Michael Pope.
All Rights Reserved.

The Kiss of the Muse

On Tuesday evening, I left the all-night restaurant alluded to in my most recent post, convinced that I’d somehow managed to hook up with a very talented batch of like-minded Writers.  I gave each of the six other participants a copy of my Scene One, and received from each of them a chapter of the novels they’re currently writing.

My main reservation is that I’m the only playwright in the bunch.  Also, since I’m a musical playwright, there are song lyrics as well as dialogue and stage directions strewn about my manuscript.   This differentiates me even further from the novelists in my midst.   Moreover, they all seem to be writing fantasy or science fiction–which of course is to be expected.  But my work is intended to deal with social issues such as classism, and to paint a picture not often seen of the Homeless Phenomenon in America

However, this doesn’t mean that their feedback will be of no value to me.  It only means that I’m afraid to receive it.   After all, our commonalities are greater than our differences.  I look forward to receiving input on plot, character development, clarity of content, and the like.  What I dread is that someone might object to some of my lyrics, without being aware of the type of music that accompanies them, since they won’t be hearing the music, but only reading the words.   This has happened before in the past, and it has put me in an awkward position.

kissofthemuse

Still, they’re all very intelligent, highly motivated people.   I’m sure that whatever happens at our next meeting, the fact that I’m finally convening with others of my ilk, and no longer hiding from the public world in stubborn isolation, is bound to reap more benefits than detriments in my creative life.

Otherwise, I’ve been busy with work and church (which in my case are very closely related, since I work at a church).   I’ve also been engrossed in some personal matters for the past few days.  So, while I did succeed in finishing Scene Four, as reported in this post, I’ve not yet begun to take a stab at Scene Five.   But I can feel it starting to simmer within me, somewhere down there. It’s a vague but very real sensation: an undeniable sense that I’m about to burst into another creative binge.   It feels as though something inside me is “percolating” — or, more accurately, incubating.  It’s almost as though I can feel the Muse approaching.  If I’m lucky, maybe she’ll kiss me, as she did the similarly exhausted Writer in the charming little picture up above.  Well — here’s hoping.

About to Advertise

So I finished the fix-its earlier alluded to, and am reasonably satisfied with all the music you can now hear on these links:

Ode to the Universe – 4:40

Urban Pathos – 17:52

Berkeley Playlist

But let’s face it.  I’m not ever going to get either of these scripts written.  All I’m ever going to do is keep writing music.  My mind is going to continue to generate new music, despite myself, no matter what else I set about to do.

So this is what I should do.  I should advertise for a lyricist and a librettist.  Somebody to write the lyrics, and somebody to write the scripts.  Maybe two different people.  But they need to be competent.  They can’t be only in it for the money.   Probably, there should be no money involved.  I want somebody who resonates with my music.  Who recognizes that these are show tunes – they’re Musical Theatre.  They suggest witty lyrics with sophisticated internal rhymes.  They suggest movement and dance.  They suggest more than mere mood.  They suggest dramatic action.  They suggest scenario.

Either I advertise on someplace like Craigslist, or I go to the nearby University music departments and drama departments, and post notices.  Or both.  But it’s got to be done, otherwise all this music will go to waste.

And there’s  too much of it to go to waste.  Also – it’s not worthy of being wasted.  There’s decent music here – but like I said, it’s show music.  It suggests a certain kind of lyrics, along a certain kind of theme – and it suggests action. 

There’s no sense in postponing “action.”  Now’s the time.

 

Coming Together: Scene One

One of the concepts in my theory of Thought Processing is that thoughts are either of value or they are not.  If they are not of value, their application is obvious.  They ought to be immediately sent into the “recycle bin” and ultimately trashed.  If they are value, then they ought not to be dismissed, but given some attention as to where they might best be applied.   The thought I wish to  express in this entry is definitely of value, for it affirms for me the sanctity of the Artistic-Creative Process.  Had something phenomenal not happened this very evening, during a full rewrite of Scene One of Wintone Greene, I would not be placing the words of this thought on this page tonight. It has to do with the creative process.  It has to do with the phenomenon of incubation, as introduced by Graham Wallas in his famous treatise, The Art of Thought.  

guyer-photography-graham-wallas
Graham Wallas

How I love it when two things come together, in the same place, at the same time, unexpectedly!  This is what affirms for me that I am somehow on the right track.  The two things were these:

1.  I knew that there had to be more evidence of “police brutality” in the scene, as well as more evidence of a naively idealistic spirituality on the part of the Street Kids — the main followers of  Winston Greene.   I knew that there needed to be a climactic moment in the scene where the Street Kids and the cops would be at odds with each other.  But I didn’t know where that moment should be.

2. I knew that in the music of the Opening Number, Intervention, there was a certain spot that seemed extremely anticlimactic.  I also knew that the Kids and the Cops were singing toward each other at the moment of said anticlimax.   But I didn’t know what to do about it.

How intriguing that the two were solved at once, as though they had been intended for each other!  In a rush, I added about 24 measures of increasingly dynamic music and lyrics, to expand the interaction between the Kids and the Cops in such a way that what was once musically anticlimactic was now a musical pinnacle, and what was once textually incomplete was now full, rich, and powerful.  The music built up and up, the lyrics of transcendent wisdom from the East blossoming into a mantra of liberty, while the vulgar threats of the unenlightened police rose up to meet inspiration with fury.   Only Winston Greene had the wisdom and courage to intervene, and to offer himself willfully to the Powers That Be, in order for his finest followers to be spared.

I guess you’d have had to have been there.   But the upshot is that a relatively lackluster Opening Number has this day been transformed into a profound and powerful affirmation of faith.  

 

A Piece of One’s Passion

When I first got the idea to write a musical called Eden in Babylon, it was because I wanted to write a musical about a guy who had written a musical called The Burden of Eden.  That guy, of course, was me.  Only I called him David.

I later got the idea that the musical should be an opera.   This came about when two pieces from The Burden of Eden were performed at Peninsula Teen Opera, where they were well-received, and where I got the funny idea that Opera people take care of their own, whereas Musical Theatre people don’t.  (Like I said, a funny idea.)

A few years later, not quite having completed the opera, a certain director convinced me to turn it back into a musical.  By that time, incidentally, the protagonist was no longer called David, but by the enigmatic name of Winston Greene.

A few years later, not quite having completed the musical, I sought support from a friend who responded by seeming to disdain the whole project.  Though the keyword here is “seeming,” my reaction to this seeming dissing of my soul was not to be able to open the script up for a good year and a half without thinking about how much my friend hated it.

And now – a few short months later, I have noticed that when I open up the script, not only is this a vast improvement from all previous versions – but an even vaster improvement is in the works.  And certain, God willing, to come.

Not to mention, by this time there is not a single song from the original version that remains in the version I see today!  So I might even have a third show in the works — again, God willing.  His will, not mine, be done.

There is something to putting a piece of one’s passion aside for a season – and picking it up again.  As Rocky Balboa said: “It’s not how many times you get knocked down that count, but how many times you get back up.”  

And as the Good Book says:

A good man falls seven times a day – and rises again.”
Proverbs 24:16

As Anthony Newley wrote:

Stand well back – I’m comin’ through –
Nothing can stop me now!
Watch out, world – I’m warning you –
Nothing can stop me now!

And as I wrote on my Facebook just the other morning:

I’m comin’ back with a vengeance.
Nothing can stop me now.