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      Music. It’s part of how I see the world…or hear the world.

      Music. It’s part of how I see the world…or hear the world. I grew up surrounded by music. Every morning I woke up to Clair de Lune as my sister practiced on our baby grand downstairs. (It was years before I realized that I only thought I could play that; I had heard it so much it seemed like I ought to be able to play it.) And after school my brothers practiced. And my parents vocalized throughout the week getting ready for a solo on Sunday. I knew much of the Bible simply because I heard Handel’s Messiah I could sing it all before I could read. Cello, piano, voice. Symphony concerts. Choral concerts. Great organ music every Sunday. Songs in the car. Rounds on the front porch.

      I begin hearing the music of a play when I first read it, usually. There is music in every play. Sometimes it’s most clear in references in the script; either the playwright suggests music or a character refers to music. Sometimes it’s not mentioned at all, but the characters themselves or the situations breathe a melody or a chord or a sense of major or minor or a measure of rest.

      In PROOF much contributed to my choice of music between scenes. One of the characters is a drummer in a band; he leaves a scene to go play and in the next scene the band is actually in the next room. So, I began with percussion. Then as we explored the mental illness in the father and the possible illness of the main character, it seemed all too clear that all the music was primarily percussive and often harshly rhythmic and often discordant and syncopated and jarring. I think it worked.

      In CALANDAR GIRLS there’s a musical theme of one particular hymn tune that threads through the play: Jerusalem. You’ll recognize it from the film CHARIOTS OF FIRE, or if you’ve seen royal weddings or been to England. It’s about as British as Amazing Grace is American (which of course it isn’t, but is now identified with American folk thanks to Judy Collins.) The characters in the play all know this tune, it’s clear. The whole country knows this tune. So, not only will the characters sing it, but we’ll hear it between some scenes…and riff on it. Also, one of the characters is the church organist. So, let’s stick with a bit of church pipe organ…and the rest is piano based. There is also reference to religion and jazz and New Orleans. So let’s work all that in somehow.

      I also see this play as a huge testament to the power of friendship and the strength that can be found in the time of grief. Annie loses her beloved husband. Somehow she’s got to sing through that grief; and she does that partly through the strength she finds in this group of women. So any vocal music should be in her voice.

      And then the hillside of sunflowers. What music is there in golden yellow slowly imperceptively turning face to the warmth of the sun before it begins to slowly sag with the weight of the seed? What do you hear?

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