Tuesday, August 23, 2011

We're Whimsy Magpies (Jillian)

Ravens afoot in Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell; Portia Rosenberg, artist.

Writers are never bored - at least they have no excuse to be. We're whimsy magpies, after all, collecting all the shiny objects we can find. I am living proof. Things are the things I've sought out a'wiki-ing and a'lexicon-ing, this summer:
  • The constellation Virgo and other stars.
  • Life cycles (and colors) of stars.
  • Supernovae and black holes.
  • Theories behind faster-than-light travel.
  • Theory of Relativity (for dummies).
  • What happens when a person falls into a coma.
  • Parts of the brain.
  • Hypothermia.
  • Saint Radegund.
  • Making up hybrid names like Tristopher and Cambrose.
  • Eye-shine (cats have it, people don't).
  • Formula to convert temperatures from Fahrenheit to Celsius (because evidently, the space age is too cool for Fahrenheit).
  • Demon possession and exorcism.
  • Greek legend of Ariadne and Theseus.
  • Ominous bird imagery and mythology: crows, ravens, magpies, etc.
  • Difference between clairvoyance and telepathy under the psychic umbrella.
  • Beatles songs and the inspirations behind them.
I find these little intellectual treasure hunts keep my brain awake, and inevitably feed into my creative projects. Try it!

Monday, August 22, 2011

In Praise of Backyard Theatre (Jillian)

It is still in my head. The scene opens on a perfect August evening on a plywood set. Tree-people are trembling in terror as a "terrible thing" rushes about on stage, and a man smoking a cigarette begins an ominous opening number. The trees continue "Oh no! There's something out there... look to the skies! That's where the truth lies!" A space ship brilliantly fashioned with eerie lights rises out of the ether behind the stage (with the help of a forklift), the audience goes wild and Mulder and Scully appear on the scene. This was X-Files: the Musical, a Colonel Mustard production - an awesome experience of ad-libs, off-color jokes, and hilarious singing, all in tribute to the cultural icon of the 90s.

Last year we witnessed the awkward shenanigans of Doctor Quinn: the Musical, and the year before that was Jurassic Park: the Musical. All backyard, amateur performances - hardly professional, but wonderful. I've found myself fortunate to have been a witness to these productions, these creative explosions of song, laughter, sometimes gak, sometimes kazoos, sometimes fake blood.

What I admire about Colonel Mustard, which began as a band of friends putting on plays in the attic, is that drive to create, to laugh, to tell familiar stories from new and hilarious angles. A musical is the perfect venue for that. Why not have the X-Files' Agent Mulder belt out "I want to believe!" Story telling isn't always a polished affair. It thrives on spontaneity and a collective creative drive. I witnessed so much energy in X-Files: the Musical, that I was about ready to jump on stage and sing along with them.

Colonel Mustard and its musicals are a wonderful reminder that inspiration knows no bounds, and that there is energy in this good, healthy madness.


to a blog by three people who write, for anyone else who wants to write. It's a cruel world for creators, and here we promise support, whimsy, and curiosity that will hopefully keep your pen moving and keyboard tapping!

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