Why I’m writing a new musical
Because doing a degree isn’t time consuming enough
This is a term of many ‘firsts’ for me: my first original musical to be staged at the ADC (coming soon, on the 3rd November). And secondly, my first Tab article. Now I just need to try Quidditch and I’ll be ready to leave…
Having heard the sound of our incredible cast singing the songs that were, until a few weeks ago, only in my head is truly one of highlights of my time at Cambridge. Katie, the script writer, and I had had an idea that we would write and put on a musical, but it never occurred to me what the reality would look like. And to be honest, I’ve caught the bug.
I first decided that I wanted to write this musical just after the end of finishing my score for the Footlights Panto in 2014. I had done little bits of composing here and there for other shows at the ADC, stemming from my desire to be an all-conquering pop-star aged 15 (‘Ryan “Je Suis Un Rockstar” Rodrigues’) as my head of sixth-form put it. After the end of Panto however, I realised that I wanted more- not only to write entire scores, but to create entire worlds, words and characters.
And it just so happens that Katie was looking for the same thing when I confessed this to her almost a year ago.
Skip forwards a few months and we had our idea. I find that a lot of people like to complain about things, and to be honest, we aren’t any different. But more than that, we wanted to put our views out there, for all to enjoy or destroy at their pleasure. From there, the world of our show quickly formed- and we built on characters and story-line with a fluidity that had previously only belonged to the ease of putting off an essay. I suppose this was to some extent…
Our inspiration stemmed, initially, from a TV interview we had seen with members of a gang that had taken part in the London Riots in 2011. We both live in South London and even to this day live amongst the aftermath of these events. However, whilst we don’t necessarily want to condone the actions of the rioters, we were moved by the testimony of these young men who felt that although they had ‘put on suits, spoken as politely as [we] could’ the world just wasn’t taking them seriously because of where they came from, how they spoke, their upbringing, and the colour of their skin. And despite outward appearances (yes, I go to Cambridge, but that’s not all that’s happened in my life) that really resonated with me personally.
Now although I wouldn’t take the step to then go and loot shops, my obvious conclusion was to write a musical about it. Naturally.
My greatest pleasure, creatively speaking, comes from two things; making an audience laugh and making an audience cry. I’ve been lucky in the past that my work has done both, and I pray that the luck doesn’t run out this time. And of course, I need the help of other highly skilled creatives to do this. However, these emotional extremities are both an instant indication that your work has actually landed and connected in some way. And theatre, in these terms, is the most rewarding medium- it happens here and now.
More than that though, it means that the audience is sharing the same experience, at the same time, and that’s ultimately what we’re trying to do- connect.
On some level, I hope people enjoy my songs- that they can help uplift, move or inspire, but I don’t see them as mine anymore: they’re the director’s, or the actor’s, but most importantly the audience’s. So for that reason, it would be wonderful to see you on the 3rd November.
It’s gonna be one helluva show.
‘A New Musical’ is being performed at the ADC on November 3rd.