Graduate Music Theatre Writing
Crafts of Musical Theatre: Songwriting for Cabaret
THEA-UT.283.1.001.FA11 & THEA-UT.284.1.001.SP12
The Cabaret Song
Focuses on the art and craft of the Cabaret Song from the perspective of both the writer and the performer.
A new class on the art and craft of the Cabaret Song from the perspective of both the writer and the performer has been added to the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing curriculum for students in Cycle 21. Led by Artistic Director Kent Gash and Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Chair Sarah Schlesinger, students in their second year of Undergraduate Drama will be collaborating with writers and composers from Cycle 21.
Gash said the idea for the class came about through collaboration itself: “Sarah Schlesinger and I were talking about the infinite and wonderful possibilities presented by our two programs working together. I wanted to begin to introduce the New Studio students to new work, and specifically new work that might be written for them or tailored to the unique individual performance characteristics that each of them brings to the work--our programs offered a unique opportunity for this kind of collaborative training. A bulk of what these young artists in New Studio know and have done is established music theatre repertoire. We all felt the songwriting collaborative class would allow us to keep evolving the performance and interpretive skills of the actors, while the Graduate Music Theatre writers and composers got to know the talents of each performer. Then we would evolve working on new songs and songwriting that will lead to four cabaret performances in the spring term of 2012.”
The first class began with New Studio students performing a prepared comedic song from a musical of their choosing. Carver Duncan, 18, from Michigan said he is “excited to bring his voice to new material,” and Megan Offtermatt, 20, from Ohio said she hopes “to really gain knowledge regarding how composers/lyricists create work, what their perspective is, and how their creation of music affects the performers playing the piece.” While the students are excited to perform their pieces, Gash has specific things in mind he hopes they will get out of the experience: “I'd like the New Studio students to have a clearer sense of what it is to fully inhabit a song and deliver an indelible performance--unique to each of them, but also grounded in fully honoring the intentions of the composer and lyricist. I'd like the Graduate Music Theatre Writing students to feel that they've gained insight into how an actor must approach the learning and performing of material, how a song ‘lives’ off the page and in the voice, body and being of the performer.” Gash said one of the goals is to build a sense of collaboration between New Studio students and Graduate Musical Theatre Writing students. “Sarah and I felt that we'd like to introduce our New Studio students to the unique collaborative possibilities with lyricist/librettist/composer teams, and see how they can serve and inspire their collaborators while allowing them to fully hear whatever their compositions/songs might be. We hope the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing composer-lyricist teams will capitalize on the unique possibility of having an ensemble of singing actors for whom to write, and build material that they can use to immediately give voice to ideas and further develop their work. We’re also hoping that the composer/lyricist teams really get to focus on writing self-contained songs, which is a slightly different goal than a complete score. What is the art of a truly great song, and how must the singer serve that and recognize its components?” The class consists of four different sections that include sixteen students from the New Studio and eight from Graduate Musical Theatre Writing. The groups will be working together through the 2011-2012 school year.