One of the many things that makes working on a show that has a digital story world is the writing journey. It’s exciting to have a story that remains in a certain amount of flux throughout the production. As the actors explore their characters they can draw on the material from our transmedia web content, but they also help us create new storylines and details within that world.
A great example of this has been the character of Vee. Originally her relationship with pianist Della was somewhat vague, but as we got into the rehearsals we saw two of their online character details overlapped. This allowed us to create a deeper connection between the characters than merely colleagues in a bar. Through a third character (who isn’t part of the show, but sits in the story deeper world) the two actors are able to add a whole new relationship and dimension to their live performances. This relationship includes part of the history of their songwriting past.
As the composer and digital storyteller it has been so rewarding to help the actors connect in the space and find more. Not all musicals go as deep into character and backstory during such a short rehearsal process, but what it does to the performance is magical. It changes phrase intonation, motive and intention. For me as the composer it’s really changed my involvement. I’ve been part of creating the story for the live show, particularly the shape and arc, but on the whole that’s John’s world. But when we knew the production was headed to the King’s Head we knew we wanted to do something to connect our audience beyond the stage. As my day job is storytelling on the page and online it made sense that I get to lead on the digital content.
This has been great for me. I’ve felt so much more connected to the story and process. It’s allowed me to step back from the music and hand over most of the interpretation to our MD Daisy and the actors. I’ve had something else to focus on: building a world. I’ve helped to carry the story forward and provide some of the background to John’s brilliant book. It’s meant that in the rehearsal room I can just as easily answer a story question as a musical one – which for a writer/composer (who didn’t write the book or lyrics for this show) is kind of exciting.
I think this is the way I always want to contribute to a show.