Always Greener is a 2019 Map Fund Recipient

Our musical keeps making a commotion!

Check out our page and the other exciting recipients here!

“MAP supports original live performance projects that embody a spirit of deep inquiry, particularly works created by artists who question, disrupt, complicate, and challenge inherited notions of social and cultural hierarchy across the United States.”

Retrieved from https://mapfundblog.org/the-program/

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Thank you to the Map Fund for helping us shake up the musical theatre landscape.

INTRODUCING THE TRIO BEHIND BOOK, LYRICS AND MUSIC


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To say our artistic team for Always Greener is unique is an understatement. First of all, unlike the usual musical theatre team of two, there are three primary artists: two bookwriters (Tekki and Erin) and one composer/lyricist (Noa/h).

While many musical theatre writing teams went to college together, our team has at least ten years of age difference between each of us. Additionally, we all come from very different educational and theatrical backgrounds, and two of us have a disability while one of us does not. Together, we are creating a musical that:
• Subverts archetypal tropes, making characters with disabilities the heroes, villains and love interests of their own stories
• Leaves behind the confines of realism to imagine a completely accessible world
• Reimagines musical theatre tropes to foreground the female and queer perspective

For example, in the traditional musical theatre structure there is a pinnacle “I Want” song. We were inspired by the “I Want song,” for sure, but our spin on it is different: “I Need More” is sung by the character of Raven, a transplant to a new community who is very aware of their needs:

 

“I NEED SOMEONE TO OPEN DOORS

TO HELP WITH THE CHORES I SLOGGED THROUGH BEFORE  

I NEED SOMEONE TO FOLD MY CHAIR

TO CARRY MY BAGS AND STEER ME UPSTAIRS”

 

Speaking of more, you can find out more about Always Greener and our exciting artistic team by following us on Twitter and Facebook. Learn more about our fantastic composer & lyricist Noa/h Fields here.

 

Thanks for following our journey!

HEY MR. PRODUCER!

CHECKING IN WITH JACOB WATSON

Jacob Watson


It’s been a busy and exciting month for the Always Greener team as we prepare for our sneak peek events in May. Jacob Watson, Artistic Producer, shares some insight into where we are in the process and what’s to come.

What have you learned in your time as the artistic producer of
Always Greener?
JW: Accessibility breeds creativity because it asks us to think about things in new terms. Nobody has ever done what we are doing, so there's no roadmap. My role on the team is to keep track of a process that is emergent and non-linear. So every time a new direction emerges I have to ask myself: is this an important accommodation we need to make, or should we stay the course with our original plan?

We recently worked with casting director, Laura Alcala Baker, to cast our May performances. What was that experience like?
JW: Working with Laura has been incredible in opening up possibilities for what inclusive casting can look like. So much of what she did with us was naming these easy and obvious ways to lower the barrier to participation -- which, for whatever reason, don't seem obvious when you're somebody who is used to traditional casting processes.

What inclusive practices would you like to see implemented in casting musical theatre shows?
JW: For example, if someone doesn't have a headshot and resume, you're ready to take their photo and performance history onsite. That's a small example that counts big. But there's also big stuff that's gonna take more effort such as training your ear and eye to reconsider what virtuosity looks like. As actors, our bodies are our instruments, and since we all have different bodies, our instruments have different ranges of expression. A good chunk of inclusive casting work, in my opinion, is just learning to expand our notion of what a "good fit" for a particular role might look like: e.g., why can't this character use a wheelchair, or use a walker, or whatever? Does it really disrupt the storytelling, or are you just afraid you won't know how to deal with it?

Anything else you want to share about your experience producing Always Greener?
JW: It's been a really amazing experience so far. We are gonna need lots of support over the next few months. We hope people feel inspired to join in however they can!
 

Our New Musical is Growing!

A new, inclusive musical is in the works and you're invited on the journey

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WELCOME TO THE ALWAYS GREENER BLOG

Always Greener is a groundbreaking new musical that asks what people with disabilities want rather than what they need. All roles that call for people with disabilities will be played by actor/singers with disabilities. You're receiving this newsletter because you've been a part of the process or you're a friend. If you would no longer like to receive updates please unsubscribe at the end of this email (but we'll be sad to see you go)!


How It All Started


In 2016 Tellin' Tales Theatre was one of three companies chosen by the Lyric Opera's Chicago Voices Community Created Performances Program to work with a Lyric team to devise an original musical based on the stories of 11 Tellin' Tales Theatre actors. The result was Freedom Out of Order, performed at the Harris Theater to a sold-out audience. Thanks to that fruitful and exciting first collaboration, many members of the Freedom Out of Order team decided to create a second musical, one that represented the disability experience on a universal level.


The Process


To make sure our new musical was authentic from the perspective of the disability community, bookwriters Tekki Lomnicki and Erin Austin invited a team of disabled writers and actors to help us concept the show. In August of 2018, a new composer and lyricist joined our team. Noa/h Fields, who is non-binary and hard-of-heading, brings a new perspective on the intersectionality of the disability and trans experiences.

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Readings

In December 2018, 16 actors with and without disabilities participated in a reading of our first draft of Always Greener. Based on feedback from the actors, as well as respected playwrights, directors and disability activists, the writing team embarked on draft two. In February 2019, our Artistic Producer Jacob Watson and Director Thrisa Hodits joined us for a workshop of the second draft. Notes were given, ideas were shared, and plans were made.


What's next


The writing team is hard at work on draft three in preparation for a mini performance at the Tellin' Tales Spring Benefit on May 4th at Mayne Stage—discounted early bird tickets go on sale March 24. Casting will take place during the month of April. Stay tuned for a full production and premiere announcement in our upcoming seasons!