|Performers are more than just vessels to carry out other people’s words. We are artists and creators with our own personal stories to tell.|
Currently, I am in consideration to be a costume character in zoos across the country, and I really want the gig because I need it to pay my bills. (I am barely making ends meet with my day job.) It’s been too hot to get out of bed, yet I do get up because there is something I am compelled to work on: “The Passion Project.” I am not the first performer who has turned to writing during a career lull in order to experience artistic fulfillment. Sometimes, for others to hear our voices, we (performers) must take matters into our own hands.
A good friend once told me, “Rori, I think you were meant to write something that illuminates love in a new way.” In hopes of carrying out this ambitious prophecy, I have been working quietly and steadily on a rock musical in which I also intend to perform. I previously wrote a play called Down This Road, that received various staged readings around the city. The result was my proudest achievement to date. Nothing can beat sitting in the audience and hearing a dedicated cast bring the words you have written to life. It was euphoric to watch an audience laugh, cry, and relate to a work that previously existed only in my head.
|Rosa Rodriguez and Lindsey Ireland as Jett and Chloe in Down This Road at Shetler Studios|
The moments in the play when the characters briefly sang to each other were the most effective, so I decided to expand the piece into a full-blown rock musical entitled, Fan Girl. I hope the dark, edgy, tragically romantic nature of the show will appeal to the Bare, Spring Awakening, Rent and Once generation of theater-goers.
The premise is as follows: America is a culture obsessed with fame and celebrities. Rock stars, especially, have a responsibility to use their power wisely and be good role models. However, when rock star Skylar Cole abuses her power and misleads some of the impressionable young fan girl “vultures” who idolize her, the consequences are dire for her and her fans.
This is an especially relevant topic today considering our worship of pop idols who are constantly arrested for reckless and scandalous behavior. Still, they manage to enthrall the masses with their endless charm and beauty.
|Stars are nothing without their fans, but sometimes they get adoration when they don’t deserve it.–credit|
While many celebrities seem to have the world on a silver platter, they may feel empty on the inside. Too many young talents are taken far too soon because we ignore their cries for help. Yet, even after stars burn out, the love for them still burns on. I hope to highlight that phenomenon with my writing.
After I complete the final draft, an exciting chain of events can take place.
1. I will send my rough garage band recordings of the songs (in which I currently harmonize with myself) to an arranger who will transcribe the music for a full rock band.
2. Next, I will assemble a trusted team including a director, stage manager, choreographer, and musical director. Once the team and music are set, I will place a casting call seeking quadruple-threat actors who can sing, dance, act, and perhaps even play some instruments.
3. Then, I will rent a rehearsal studio, in which a performance will culminate for friends and family. I will ask the audience to give honest feedback.
4. Taking the feedback into account, I will do some rewrites, and finally, submit for the NYC Fringe, Midtown International Theater Festival (MITF), and New York Musical Theater Festival (NYMF). Each of these festivals has a lengthy application process, but if chosen, the rewards can be great. The shows attract reviewers and sometimes get the attention of producers who help the show move on to bigger venues.
|Altar Boyz and Title of Show ended up off Broadway and on Broadway after both debuting in NYMF.|
Obviously, before opening in a full-blown production, I need to raise money for sets, costumes, lights, paychecks, etc. The Kickstarter campaign is a great way for independent artists to get funding. Sebastian LaCause, former Broadway star and now the creator of the successful web series, “Hustling,” used Kickstarter to reach his goal of $30,600 in just over a month. When he began the project, he was funding it out of his own pocket because “it was a means of creative expression.” Now, the show is in its third season and going strong.
|Sebastian LaCause serves as writer, director, producer, production designer and co-editor on his web series, Hustling.|
Many other renowned actors have experienced success with a similar means of self-starting. Singer/songwriter Declan Bennett from Broadway’s American Idiot and the West End’s Once, often squeezed in live gigs at small venues “continually pushing the hours in a day to find an audience for his music.” He needed to get out and play his tunes on the guitar, even in the midst of his busy eight-show-a-week schedule. Eventually, he was able to record his songs onto the album, Record Break Up.
|Declan’s songs come from within, but have universal appeal. His song “Bang” is my favorite of all time.|
We all have personal stories to tell, not just for our own cathartic release, but with hope that we can inspire and enlighten others with our experiences. The good news is, I don’t have to give private readings only for my cat. Luckily, I live in the greatest city in the world that thrives on new, indie works and emerging artists. New York City provides the outlet. All I need is a little bit of entrepreneurial spirit, a lot of nerve, and to finish writing it.