August 26. . . Madness Music

August 26. . . Madness Music

I’m madly rewriting Madness after my conversation with dramaturg Dana Lynn Formby. Digging into questions of fathers you want to be like and fathers you don’t, and The Flying Man’s connection to our dancers.

I’m glad to tackle the script’s darker undercurrents of loss and longing, since otherwise the play is just too funny. Funny’s good, but better when there’s something underneath it. I keep thinking about descriptions of abstract art like Matisse, where bright vibrant color can be balanced by a single dark line.

I talk with Matt and Tom Sivak about the music that they’ll improvise for the Madness workshop – music to accompany the dancers’ actions and spur the varied dance numbers, and sound effects for objects onstage.

Tom is a musical theatre composer and terrific piano player – and piano tuner. Matt’s a drummer who plays every style and does stage sound design, including live sound effects for The Radio Theatre Project at The Studio@620.

They both ask excellent questions about how, why and when the music is part of the play. Since it’s a workshop, they decide to focus on one signature Dance Contraption tune – one they can play straight or “broken,” as The Machine evolves during the script. They’ll provide a glimpse of the many different songs mentioned in the script by letting Matt change the rhythm to swing, salsa, a Paso Doble and the final mambo breakdown.

Tom suggests using the technique of a “prepared piano” – altering the sound by placing objects on or under certain strings. We’ve seen this a jazz concert, which surprises Tom. He’s never done it on an upright piano before, but since that’s what 620 has, he’s going to try.

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