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Musical Writerzine #28 - Winter 2015

Newsletter for Writers of New Musicals - Intro

Carol de GiereFrom Carol de Giere

This issue begins with submissions opportunities, some with close deadlines, so check this out soon. For our Growing Stages column in this issue, William Squier writes about the Musical Theatre Factory, a New York City service organization that supports the development of new musicals with volunteer staffing.

To read future issues of our Musical Writerzine newsletter, if you have not already subscribed, please fill out the form on Musical Writerzine. To view back issues, see the links to the left.

Carol de Giere is the website publisher for MusicalWriters.com and author of Defying Gravity: The Creative Career of Stephen Schwartz, from Godspell to Wicked, and The Godspell Experience.

New Musicals Notes

New Musicals Submissions Opportunities

December 30, 2014 Deadline - ASCAP Los Angeles

The annual ASCAP/DreamWorks Musical Theatre workshop lead by Stephen Schwartz has announced the submissions deadline for musical works in progress. Our of all the submissions, several musical writing teams are chosen to present their work and have it critiqued by a panel of pros. See Musicalschwartz.com/ascap - for a link to more information.

When and if the New York City workshop news becomes available, I will post it on the MusicalSchwartz.com ASCAP page.

January 2015 Deadline for NAMT

If your musical is finished and needs a showcase, submitting it for National Alliance for Musical Theatre festivals may be worth considering. Presentations at NAMT are a good stepping stone for further action with the musical. However submissions require endorsement. This means you need to work with a local theatre, theatrical literary agent, producer, or NAMT member. From their guidelines: "...Endorsing organizations should only endorse shows that they have fully read, listened to and are willing to advocate for as a show on par with the best shows they have ever seen at the Festival." See Namt.org/festival-submission-2015

Ongoing - New Musicals Inc in Los Angeles

We congratulate several of our Musical Writerzine subscribers whose musicals have been selected for a workshop in 2015 by New Musicals Inc (formerly the Academy for New Musical Theatre). Visit nmi.org/ for information on classes and other programs. Go to nmi.org - search-for-new-musicals/ page for specific instructions on submissions.

Writers Retreat for Musical Writing Teams

The Rhinebeck Writers Retreat website states that submissions will open in January for the summer of 2015. Spend a week in the country with your musical writing team, funded by the retreat center. It includes a stipend. Rhinebeck writers

Show Off Your Musical - A Facebook Group

Consider joining the Facebook group ShowOffYourNewMusical/ where submission opportunities are sometimes posted.

TRU events in NYC

TRU in NYC has been hosting some informative panel discussions. Keep up with Theatre Resources Unlimited at Truonline

Composers wanted; lyricist wanted

Several playwrights have asked if I knew of composers interested in working on spec on a project. And one funded project is looking for a lyricist.

In the future, I'd like to post website links of composers who are open to hearing from playwrights, especially if those sites include a sample of music.

Please contact me if you have an interest in any of the above. Write to Carol de Giere: carol@musicalschwartz.com

Music Licensing Opportunity - New Deadline January 3rd

Have you written songs for musicals that might work on television, movies, or websites? Aaron Davison has organized "The 180 Day Music Licensing Challenge." The program provides a framework and support system for getting started, or furthering your success with licensing music. It includes such things as consultations and coaching, leads, training videos, and much more.

If you sign up for this program by December 31, 2014, you will also be helping MusicalWriters.com fund our efforts. Please click on this link www.180daymusiclicensingchallenge.com to find out all the details. Once you're on the site, wait for the video to load.

And More

How many of the essential books for musical writers do you have? Even if you already know how to write a musical, you may find useful advice in these books. Read our suggestions and reviews. Your purchases through these links help fund this newsletter.

Stephen Schwartz and Musical Writers

Stephen SchwartzComposer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Pippin, Wicked) continues to help musical writers in his capacity as the director of ASCAP workshops, as the president of the Dramatists Guild, and as a friend of many people in the business with whom he shares his ideas and feedback on their projects.

If you haven't already met him and would like to, consider subscribing to my other newsletter, The Schwartz Scene, which I update with concerts and other public events that he's involved with (a new issue is coming out soon). This spring, he'll be meeting with a group I'm taking to The Hunchback of Notre Dame new stage musical east coast premiere at the Paper Mill Playhouse (he wrote the show's lyrics). I still have tickets left for that mid March matinee performance. Contact me for details at carol@musicalschwartz.com

Defying GravityIn my new book The Godspell Experience, I included numerous comments about his approach to writing the Godspell score. And as many of you know, my Stephen Schwartz biography, Defying Gravity, includes many tips and ideas that have proven helpful to musical writers. I recently received this comment about the book from composer Scott W: "There is a wealth of helpful information I can relate to in many ways.... This was an education in the ups and down of writing for musical theater and the creative process for musical theater. Your writing made me feel like I was sitting in my living room with Stephen giving me advice. I particularly liked how he shares his 'failures' and has turned them into assets."

"Growing Stages" by William Squier

Bill SquierJust Show Up and Hang out

The Musical Theatre Factory

Shakina Nayfack, Founding Artist Director of NYC's Musical Theatre Factory (mtf.nyc), remembers being about four years old when she fell under the spell of the musical theater. "My aunt, Marilee Bradford, was a performer-director-choreographer in Los Angeles," Nayfack recalls. "When I was very young, she directed and produced the jazz performance group String of Pearls and I would go to see her shows. She also did a lot of musical revues, like Let's Call the Whole Thing Gershwin and At Long Last Cole. My whole life has been driven by musical theater."

Music Theatre Factory NYCPHOTO: Music Theatre Factory participants. Photo by Frank Manda

So, it's hardly a surprise that Nayfack chose to travel a similar route by starting out as a performer, then deciding to become a director in college and exploring choreography. She went on to earn both an MFA in Experimental Choreography and a PhD in Critical Dance Studies from the University of California before being awarded a Director's Project musical theater fellowship by the Drama League in 2011 that brought her to the East Coast and Barrington Stage Company. There she served as an associate producer for two seasons and worked closely with William Finn on programming for BSC's Musical Theatre Lab, including Songs by Ridiculously Talented Composers and Lyricists You Probably Don't Know but Should.

Nayfack says that she initially came up with the name Musical Theatre Factory to serve as an "umbrella" for a slate of personal projects she was developing. "When I lived in Los Angeles, I'd drive around and see all of these abandoned warehouses in the old manufacturing district and think, 'One day I want a factory that makes nothing but musicals," she says. But, when Nayfack was working at BSC she began to think of MTF in broader terms and, this past March, put her ideas into effect.

"I realized that there was a whole range of development work that artists needed access to before they would be ready for something like the Musical Theatre Lab," Nayfack explains. "When you're working in a professional company model, you need things to be profitable. But, development is by its very nature not a profitable venture. Musical Theatre Factory is a service organization that provides the ability to develop new work with volunteer staffing across the board." We recently caught up with Nayfack to get all the details.

MUSICAL WRITERZINE: Am I correct that the move to New York is a fairly recent one for you?

NAYFACK: "I've only been here for three years, but New York was always the dream. So, when the Drama League Director's Project musical theater directing fellowship brought me to the Barrington Stage Company, I bought a one-way ticket and knew that, from there, I would move to the city. It was a three-buck-two-bags-one-me kind of arrival!"

MW: What inspired you to expand the mission of MTF this year?

NAYFACK: "A friend who rents space in midtown Manhattan was downsizing his company. And I'd been talking with him about what I would do if I were in that space. And he turned to me and said, 'How about if I get you a key and you can do whatever you want in the back room?' He gave a gift to the Musical Theatre Factory of a rent-free space for a year to build the organization and he provided the financing for the renovation of the space. We provided the volunteer labor. We were on our hands and knees laying the new floor, hanging lights and painting the walls. As of last week we'd raised enough money through our programming to pay back the initial investment."

MW: One of the most unique aspects of the Musical Theatre Factory is that it is volunteer-based. How you hit on that as a concept?

NAYFACK: "It evolved out of the needs of the space. For the construction of the room, I just announced to my friends that we were having work parties for anyone who wanted to come. I decided early on that if I was going to be responsible for this space and providing a resource, that I didn't want to be making decisions in a vacuum. So, I started inviting my professional contacts and friends to a series of what we called Community Brainstorms – open meeting that anyone who was interested could attend. And the people who showed up helped to define what the organization became.

We discussed the needs of emerging musical theater writers and performers and the types of programming that we could create that would meet those needs – how we could do it all at low cost, but in a way that was fair to the artists and honored their creative work. Writing can be an isolating, lonely and, sometimes, terrifying process. We're trying to create an environment that's less about working alone and more about working in a vibrant community where everyone is developing their own material.

We can help the creators of musical theater who are members of our organization find directors, choreographers, music directors and performers. There's the peer evaluation, feedback, and camaraderie that you need to keep going!

MW: Is MTF a non-profit organization?

NAYFACK: "We're currently fiscally sponsored, so we are able to receive tax-deductible donations. We plan to have non-profit status as a public charity within the coming year."

MW: What kinds of programs do you have in place?

NAYFACK: "Our programming is, obviously, focused on development. I facilitate a Bi-Weekly Writers Group that currently has 7 projects in development, being written by both teams and solo writers. The writers originally signed on for the summer to see if it was a good system. A lot of great work got done, so it will be continued through the fall. And in 2015 every piece is guaranteed a one-week residency for either a reading, a concert or some kind of staging workshop.

From there, we hope to start another Writers Group. We have a Developmental Reading Series where the shows get a week of rehearsal for a minimally staged or music stand reading. We have a Workshop Series that allows pieces to do a chore-lab or movement/staging workshop where, rather than presenting a whole piece, the creative team put sections of a work up on it's feet.

We have another development program that's sort of our entry level: 4 x 15. We take submissions quarterly from member writers and choose four shows a month. Each show gets 5 hours of rehearsal to present a 15-minute excerpt staged and off-book. It's a wonderful challenge. Then, we put all 4 excerpts up in one evening for an audience and a panel of industry professionals. And the writers and director get feedback from the panel. We often choose pieces from 4 x 15 for a full reading or workshop.

And we have a Monthly Salon – another great way to get involved – that features a couple of composers every month who play a few songs from a show that they're writing. It's an open mike from 8:00 pm until midnight where anyone can come and play something that they're working on. In the coming year we'll produce our first Equity Showcase."

MW: What's the MTF space like?

NAYFACK: "It's a black box studio theater that's 780 square feet (28' x 28') with flexible seating for 60 and 2 4'x4' staging platforms that can be moved around. There are 8 lights, a baby grand piano, drum kit, a couple of amps, 12 music stands and 4 folding tables."

MW: Is there a philosophy that decides the work MTF develops?

NAYFACK: "We're interested in a wide range of storytelling and steer away from begin too homogenous in our programming. I not only look at what the content of the story is, but what the sound of it is. We have folk operas, contemporary musical theater, pieces that harken back to a legit sound, and rock. We also have pieces that are trying something innovative in the way they tell their story. We have one musical in the Writer's Group titled Nikola Tesla Drops the Beat (Music by Nikko Benson, Book and Lyrics by Benjamin Halstead) that's envisioned as an immersive techno dance party."

MW: How can musical theater writers get involved?

NAYFACK: "Just show up and hang out! We don't accept blind submissions. But, if you become part of the community of Musical Theatre Factory, you can submit your work. We do 4 x 15 submissions every three months for quarterly seasons. It's really easy to become a member– it's based on event attendance and volunteerism. If you attend a single event and volunteer four hours of time, you become a member. It can be anything from working the bar, box office, stage managing, being a rehearsal pianist – there are a lot of different ways to get involved."

Music Theatre Factory 2Musical Theatre Factory is located at 250 West 40th Street, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10018. To volunteer your time visit WEBSITE: mtf.nyc, click "Get Involved" and sign up for an available job.

PHOTO: Workshop session in the Musical Theatre Factory. Photo by Danny Abosch.

Want to learn how to license your music in tv and films? Take the 180 Day Music Licensing Challenge and start making money from your music! 

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To send suggestions, comments, or questions write to carol@musicalschwartz.com

 

Above: Beating Broadway by Steve Cuden

 

Above: The Musical Theatre Writers Survival Guide by David Spencer

 

Above: How Musicals Work: And How to Write Your Own

 

 

 


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