Brendan Milburn is the composer of Sleeping Beauty Wakes and a member of GrooveLily, a pop/rock band. The post below is published with permission from Brendan, and courtesy of GrooveLily’s website. For details, visit:
Never even made it to rehearsal today—long writing session in our apartment with Rachel. Our Orderly, Bryce Ryness, and his wife Meredith and daughter Mercy came by as I was winding down with Mose at the end of the day with some Paper Mario. They knocked on the door and Mercy’s happy 18-month-old face was grinning through at us. Mercy was saying “Mose! Mose! Mose!” and Mose came up to give her a hug at the doorway.
Bryce reported that the bridge of “Still Small Hours” has gone over like gangbusters with the patients, and they’re having a BLAST with it—and he seems to also really dig the new Patients’ bridge to “Ready For This,” the song that opens Act 2.
It’s funny how sometimes the things that come the most easily—like these two bits in the middle of pre-existing songs—are the parts that are the most effective. It’s a little like tricking yourself into doing a good job by getting your mind out of the way; if you think “this isn’t a big deal. I can see how to get this job done,” then you can simply do it. And these discrete pieces, where Val and I could see point A and point B and imagine a fun way to get between them—these pieces are the ones that are so easy to bring to life, and so fun. And it’s the vast, open expanses of open blank canvas that scare the crap out of us. (Or me, at least. I shouldn’t presume to say what scares the crap out of my wife, creatively. Though after nearly 17 years together I think I have some idea of what’s going on in her head.)
We wrote up a storm—Rachel re-did approximately 35 pages worth of Act 2, and I sent out piece after piece of updated sheet music in the direction of Emilia LaPenta, our wonderful Literary Intern who is in charge of changes to script and score, and making sure everyone who needs it gets a copy of same.
In addition, it was terrific to have us all in the room together—Rachel lounged on the couch with her macbook air, frowning at it for ages at a time, refusing my offers of hot beverages or snacks, and occasionally asking piercing questions about dialogue and character. Val would interrupt me every 10 minutes with another alternate version of a particularly tricky quatrain. And I would, maybe once an hour, ask them to come listen to a computer-generated playback of something while I pressed the “play” button in finale and they followed the bouncing ball of the on-screen sheet music. Whenever any of us had anything to present, the other two would have differing, strongly-held opinions, forcing all three of us to evaluate our own positions and frequently change sides. And by the end of each of these evaluating moments, we were all, at least tentatively, on the same path and the same side.
And that, my friends, is the end result of NINE YEARS OF WRITING TOGETHER. We’ve been lucky enough, since Val and I moved to LA, that McCarter has made it possible for Rachel to come out and stay either with us or in a nearby hotel for a week at a time three times in the past year and a half, and there’s really no question in any of our minds—we do better (and more) writing when we’re in the same building and can bounce ideas off each other immediately. We make so much more progress.
Tomorrow morning, we hire a sitter for Mose so we can hear the actors read through this two-thirds of Act 2 and see where we are. Wish us luck.