Friday, October 1st, 2010
Some things worth noting about our first handoff:
1) We ultimately decided against naming our characters. That’s a long (and at times conflicted) story worth telling at another point.
2) The song needed to communicate that the child is an orphan. This is the mother’s dying request or so it seems.
3) Brian simplified the many ideas I sent, and turned them into a single focused request: to provide the infant with a father’s love. Given the story we’re beginning, it seemed spot on to present “a father’s love” as an important factor right away.
4) For song form, Brian chose a simple A B approach (or throughsung, as some call it), with A serving as an intro, and B being the main body of the song. As is often the case in this song form, the title is sung as the final words.
A couple of subsequent changes worth noting:
1) Fully satisfied with this lyric for years, we later began to think about how far away a theatre audience would be from the letter itself. It would be a very small prop indeed. And a familiar one. How many stories open with the reading of a letter? So we began to play with more vivid sensory images for the opening line. We agreed on the seal because it sets a historical context, and because it offers a visceral metaphor for the Young Woman’s demise: a spoiled seal, one which can’t be used again but would need to be remade. The word “doorway” also seemed to create a picture for the listener with The Messenger pounding on a door and hoping that the doorway of love will be likewise opened.
2) The letter was originally addressed to the Younger Son (note the change from “our love” to “my love”). We decided to address the letter instead to the master of the house.
3) Originally, we repeated the last line so that, true to form, the song ends with the sung title. Another idea was to restate the child’s need less abstractly (“a father’s love”) and more concretely (“a father”). That “interruption” of what’s expected seemed to work best musically too so we went with it.
Wonder what it will be like in the movie? Or the stage show?
(That’s a problem with being living writers – we can always make it better, or so we think!)
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