Musical theatre workshops and productions

Inspiration from a cat?

GIRLHOOD, my most recent project, is a song cycle musical that tells the stories of middle school girls as they experience the challenges of daily life from middle school through high school.  Through interviews with girls, I have developed seven central characters that will be featured in the show along with a large ensemble.

Recently, I was stuck on two characters.  I knew what they were about, how they looked, what mattered to them, what drove them, how they treated others, etc. But, I could not figure out how they connected or how to bring them into the larger story.

I sat with this dilemma for a while, then, I started telling others – asking about their thoughts.  Really, I was looking for inspiration.  Looking for plausible examples of what would drive these characters’ actions.  What was I missing?

I volunteer at my local yoga center – I do their bookkeeping and monthly reconciliations – and at lunch, the Swami asked about the new musicals I am developing.  I shared with her the outline of GIRLHOOD and then took a deep breath and asked her opinion about these two characters.   Without hesitating, she said, “they both are full of fear.” I was taken back.  She was able to quickly find a common denominator.

Again, I sat with this and let it mull in my head.  Hmmmm, if they are both full of fear, how do we connect that in a song or in a scene.  Nothing was coming to mind.  Then, as I was reading a novel that I’m in the middle of, looking outside for a sliver of an idea, something came to mind.  Quietly I worked out how the characters can “come together” and connect in song.

Bang – there it was.

Inspiration can come from anywhere.  It can come when you are looking for it – but mostly it comes to me when I am not looking for it.  When I have identified the problem, sat with it and then asked for help.  I remember getting a brilliant idea for a book chapter I was writing by looking at my cat!

Whether it is a cat or a Swami – inspiration, imagination and creativity sometimes come in the most surprising of places.

Larry Little

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