Wow! Where did Monday go?! I really wanted to have this post done by this morning. *Sigh* One of these weeks...
Anyhoo, here we go!
This week, my theft is more direct. Previously, I think they have been all inspirational, but this week, I’m stealing: straight out.
I was driving home from St. Catharines on Sunday evening with Q107 cranked in the car and a song I haven’t heard in quite a while came on the radio. I listened and was overjoyed because it fit perfectly into the show that is currently ruminating in my mind called Eve of Destruction. The song: Sky Pilot by Eric Burdon & The Animals.
Now, when I write shows, by the time they actually get put onto the computer, I’ve spent a lot of time with it. My Mother’s Daughters: I’ve been thinking about and it has been growing in my mind for the past 7 years. Only now has it started taking enough shape to actually come out.
Eve of Destruction is like that. The premise: it is a musical that uses existing songs to tell the story of a country that begins a war for profit and how the media manipulates the population to support the war and the effects of the war after it begins. Over the years, I have been compiling songs that I would like to use and my thought is that when I have all the songs I need to tell the story, I will be able to write the show. (It’s been a slow going process and it is not often I find a song that pops out.)
This weekend I added one more. When it comes time to do the show, I know that I will have to see if I can get the rights to use the songs, or I may have a composing partner by then and we may write our own music. Either way, the songs on my list help me tell the story and give the plot shape and arc in my mind. Also, there are things about the rhythms of the song that produce the feel I want on stage and I can actually see some of the choreography in my mind.
Sky Pilot has given me another character for the show: The military chaplain; a man in conflict about the current war. His duty is to the soldiers and his country, but he sees a land that is being ravaged by war that is full of regular people and he empathizes with them. He sees the boys he lives with, knows and cares for go out each day, many to face their death and wonders if it is really worth it? He is a juicy addition to my story and will relate well to the main character (the soldier that falls in love with a local girl and is being forced to hunt down her brothers) and can even be a friend to the Unknown Soldier (the narrator).
It is hard to come up with all the characters you need to tell a well-rounded fully developed story. It’s always great when something comes along and you can say: YES!!! THAT’S IT!!!! And suddenly, there you are; a whole new person in your story and that person brings with them their own plot and fills in some of the blanks that have been plaguing the process. It’s like magic. You realize: Oh! That’s how this happens, this person comes along and does it! That’s what this chaplain is for me. I have the last scene in Eve of Destruciton written, but I had no idea how to get my characters to that place or what it was that made the scene occur, but now, with the chaplain, it has all become clear in my mind and I can now see the last half of Act 2 clearly in my head. It’s awesome. It is like a fog lifting over the city and you can see the place you have been searching for is right in front of you.
If Sky Pilot does get used in the show, I think it would be split up (much like it was on the original album release) and used as a reprise later. The lyrics are really what struck me. It perfectly encapsulates the feelings of the chaplain (since the song inspired the character, I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise). The part that stands out is:
May God give you strength
Do your job real well
If it all was worth it
Only time it will tell
“Is it worth it?” is one of the main theme through the show. What is the cost of war? Is the price really worth the reward? Who sees the reward? Do the people who pay the price truly know what they are paying for? Is there another way?
War is a subject that is extremely close to my heart. The theory that war is necessary in some cases is one that I can understand and even support, but there is always something in the back of my mind that says: was it? When you look at World War II: yes, that war was necessary. There was injustice being done and we had to fight to stop it. We can say: we didn’t start it, bad things we happening and we had to make them stop and violence was the only way to stop violence. If someone is beating you with a stick, find bigger people to beat them with a bigger stick and they will stop. Makes sense, but still, you have to wonder; where were those people with the bigger stick before you started getting beaten? How could this war have been prevented? Did we do all we could to make sure it didn’t happen? Or did we sit there and think to ourselves, well, at least it’s not us?
Also, it is important to remember the people who are on the ground fighting our wars. Almost never is it the people who started the war that you find in the trenches. They are not the ones with their lives at risk. To them, they get reports with numbers: statistics. They don’t see the faces of each of the soldiers that give up their lives for their country. Eve of Destruction looks at those people. Who are the people on the ground? What do they face? They are not nameless. They have family and friends who love and care about them. They laugh and cry and are afraid before heading out on a mission. They suffer unimaginable horrors. For me, it is important to show that side of war as well. The fact is that war is still fought by human beings. As someone without family or friends in active military service, it can be hard to remember the people on the ground when you see news reports or read articles about some of the conflicts happening around the world. I often fall into the “at least it’s not us” group. As a writer, it is my responsibility to find a way to say, this is not okay. To do my part to stop being part of that group and say: it is all us! I cannot be free from oppression if there are others who are not free from oppression.
So, stay tuned for Eve of Destruction. It is still a few years away from hitting the stage, but it’s getting bigger in my mind. Soon, it will be ready to burst forth like Athena from my head.
Here are the other songs that are currently influencing this show:
Eve of Destruction – Barry McGuire
Bombs Over Baghdad – OutKast
One Foot – Fun.
For full lyrics to Sky Pilot, check out: http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/zodiac/skypilot.htm